Lessons from MUNI: How to Write an Opening Speech

by Caroline Bello on March 31, 2016

delegate speakingPublic Speaking


Public speaking is a highly valuable skill you have the opportunity to develop through Model United Nations. Knowing how to prepare and deliver well-organized and thoughtful speeches will help you in school, your future career, and the rest of your life.

At an MUN conference, you will have many opportunities to give speeches. As the representative of your assigned country, you will be expected to speak about your country’s policy on the committee topics and your proposed solutions.

There are two main opportunities to make speeches in Model UN:

  • Speakers List: When the committee begins, the chair will create a list of delegates who wish to give speeches. These speeches are typically about the how each country feels about the topic, and range from 1-2 minutes long. The first time you speak on the speakers list is referred to as your opening speech. You should prepare this speech before the conference. After your first speech, you can sent a note to the chair to request to be put on the Speakers List again.
  • Moderated Caucus: Whereas the speakers list is about the topic in general, a moderated caucus is about a specific part of the topic. A moderated caucus has no Speakers List; delegates must raise their placards and wait for the chair to call on them to speak. Each delegate typically gets 30 seconds to 1 minute to speak, and have to focus on the topic of the caucus.

Public Speaking Structure

One of the easiest way to organize your speeches in Model UN, especially for opening speeches, is to use the following three-part formula:

  1. Hook: An engaging way to grab your audience’s attention;
  2. Point: Your country policy on the topic; and,
  3. Call to Action: Your possible solutions to the topic.

1. Hook

The beginning of a speech should grab your audience’s attention. It should give your audience a reason to listen to you – otherwise they won’t. An attention-grabbing introduction is often called a “hook.” There are many different types of hooks, but here are a few common ones that work well in Model UN.

Question: Asking the audience a question is often an easy way to get their attention.

Example: “Do you think it is possible for us to live in a world without poverty? The people of my country think so. We believe we can achieve the end of poverty.”

Quote: A quote engages the audience when they recognize the figure you’re quoting.

Example: “Fifty years ago, United States President John F. Kennedy said, ‘Ask not what your country can do for you, but what you can do for your country.’ Today, ask not what the world can do for you, but what you can do for the world.”

Statistic: A statistic can grab an audience’s attention if it is surprising or interesting.

Example: “Over 1 billion people around the world live on less than US$1.25 a day. Over 1 billion people live in extreme poverty.”

Story: A story is the oldest form of communication and if told well, can certainly grab an audience’s attention. But speeches in MUN are typically very short, so keep the story brief!

Example: “Several years ago, in rural Pakistan, a girl was walking to school when a gunshot rang out – and she was shot in the head. The Taliban any girls to go to school. But that girl survived, and today she fights for girls’ right to education around the world. That girl’s name was Malala.”

2. Point

The point is the purpose of your speech. It is the reason why you’re speaking. Once you have your audience’s attention, you should deliver your point. MUN speeches are often short, so stick to one point. Make it significant but simple to understand. It is better to say one thing well than many things poorly.

In opening speeches in MUN, the “point” is to state your country policy on the topic. Then offer 2-3 reasons explaining why your country had adopted this policy.

Example: “The Republic of Korea believes that education is a human right, and that all people should have access to education. Education is a pathway out of poverty for millions in developing countries, like Korea was just a few decades ago. Education is the driver of change and development in this world, and education is critical for the human race to continue to thrive and grow.

3. Call to Action

Good speeches end with a “call to action,” which is when you tell your audience to go and do something. Your call to action is your specific solution to the problem.
Example: “To provide universal access to education, Korea proposes the creation of an international fund called ‘Education For All’ that will support 3 programs in developing countries: building more schools, training new teachers, and preventing girls from dropping out of school. We call upon the international community to create and donate to this fund, so we can guarantee education as a right globally.”

Want to learn more tips on how to participate in Model UN? Check out the Model United Nations Institute Diplomat Program– hosted across the United States every summer!

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