How to write a MUN Opening Speech

With lots of Examples

Writing a MUN opening speech can be a bit challenging.

Common questions we get from delegates before going to a conference.
“What should I say?”
“Should I read out my MUN Positions Paper?”
“How do I take all the research I did up to this point and fit it into a 60-second opening speech?”

You may know the topic well and wrote an amazing Positions Paper. Now how do you take all the research you did and write my opening speech?

Here are the 3 points a MUN opening speech should cover:

  1. Problem
    Establish the issue you feel the committee should focus on solving
  2. Facts/Research
    Backup your views on the issue and solutions with research.
  3. Solution
    Propose the outline of your countries solution to the issue at hand. 

However, there is an important element missing. The Clash. To truly impact the committee it is not enough to bring new ideas. There needs to be engagement between delegates and your ideas need to be discussed by others. You know your idea is important when countries that oppose your idea fight against it while countries who are on your side support it. Other delegates’ ideas clashing with yours is what gives them both life and makes them interesting and relevant. For this reason, a good MUN opening speech needs to have the following three components.

  1. Clash
  2. Information
  3. Action

Clash is your position framed as a two-sided issue which the other side can object to. Information is properly used facts. Call to Action is the policy you want to see implemented. The guide below will explain how the CIA formula works and how to use it to create your influential, informative and rhetorically sound opening speech. Let’s get to it!

Introducing CIA

CIA is the foundation for any MUN opening speech. A strong CIA speech, will convey a clear and consistent message to your fellow delegates that you know what you are talking about and have a plan. Clear communication is the key to  successful MUNing in your committee. Missing your Clash, Information or Action can result in confusion about where you stand on the matter and your outlook on how to solve the issue at hand. 

Just Remember CIA:

Clash

Information

Action

Clash – Confrontation of ideas, specifically the important two-sided issue within the topic that you want the committee to discuss.

Information – Relevant facts. numbers, that support your speech. Information can also be facts about your country that justify your position.

Call to Action – Actionable and practical policy you propose to solve the issue mentioned in your clash.

Before we explain how each part of CIA works, it is vital to understand clashing with at least a few other delegates is an important litmus test for how relevant your talking points are.

Why 100% Agreement = Irrelevance

A Model United Nations opening speech should present a problem, as you perceive said problem, and give one or more practical policy proposals on how you propose to solve it. However, if everyone agrees with you, no one will talk about your ideas.

When no one talks about your ideas, they will fade from the discussion. This is why your framing of the problem needs to clash with the world view of other delegates. The debate between you and those who oppose your ideas will keep both ideas alive. Hours later, if you find a compromise with the other side, you will get credit for making the biggest difference. If you cannot find a compromise, you get credit for sticking to your principles. In both cases, if your clash is central to what takes place in the committee, you will get the credit for shaping the discussion and bringing the ideas that led the direction the committee took.

This is why it is not enough to say what is correct, or even important. It needs to arouse some kind of response to remain relevant and important. Ideally, the way you frame the debate will be so relevant and well presented that the committee clashes along the lines you set and the rich and relevant discussion takes up a central place in the committee, or at least is relevant to enough delegates to keep it going as a secondary discussion. For this reason, the first part of your MUN opening speech is called a Clash.

Clash

A confrontation of ideas.

A clash in MUN would be  – Two opinions in direct opposition on one idea, therefore clashing with each other.

Example:

We cannot censor people who incite violence in a country with freedom of speech.
Vs
We must censor people to ensure physical safety from those who successfully incite violence.

You cannot censor and not censor at the same time and there you have a strong clash.

For something to be a clash, delegates from your committee need to be on either side of it. If there are no two sides, the committee won’t debate it. Instead, your ideas will either unanimously go straight to the unimportant clause section of the resolution or fall entirely out of discussion. Either way, it will not be central to determining the direction the committee goes.

Examples of Clash:

Revoking asylum status for anyone who does not agree to get vaccinated at the border.

Advocating for megacities to have their own independent legal system.

The United Nations should fund water filtration in countries that suffer volcanic eruptions.

In all of these examples, there is a clear ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. The answer to these questions will be the main one to divide the committee room. 

An idea that everyone agrees on is Off Clash. Off Clash statements (Like the Ebola virus is bad or tornados are dangerous) are a waste of precious speech time that could be further used to develop your Clash or Call to Action. (More on Clash and Off Clash in the expanded explanation below)

Which clash should you choose?

 Some topics have many possible clashes. In those cases, you should choose the one you feel will be most relevant to the discussion.

Example:

Committee: World Health Organization

Topic: Combating the Zika Virus

Clashes

Clash 1: Increase the number of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika.

Clash 2: Remove patent restrictions to let countries locally develop medicines to counter Zika.

Clash 3: Suggest countries around the world teach children about the world’s top deadliest diseases.

 The general concept of combating Zika is an Off Clash topic. No one will say the Zika virus is a good thing. To find the Clash you need to go one level deeper and decide what type of discussion will best serve our country’s interests.

It is clear that Clash 3 will save the least leaves and bring the least immediate benefit. It will also likely get little or no discussion time.

When choosing between Clash 1 and Clash 2, Paraguay would open for Clash 2, as creating generic medicines would be cheaper not only for fighting Zika but could also make medical treatment cheaper across the board. This idea would also be of interest to Angola, who faces similar constraints on creating generic medicines, even though they do not have the Zika virus. As a rule of thumb, it is better to choose a clash that is not only relevant to your country but many others can also agree with it.

Information

Information = Hard facts that support your case

A strong MUN speech needs to have relevant facts and numbers that support parts of your speech.

Without information, your fellow delegates can only rely on your word, which might not give enough credibility to what you have to say. Numbers, names, dates and hard facts show what we are saying exists in the real world and is not an opinion. Numbers are the best form of information to use and the hardest to argue with.

Example:

No “Information”

The coral reefs are very important. Huge numbers of people who live near a reef. Corals also protect the shoreline of many countries. Also, many countries, like the US, and make a lot of money from tourism.

vs

With “Information”

The coral reefs are very important. 962 million people (Roughly an eighth of the world’s population) lives within 60 miles of a reef. Additionally, corals protect 100,000 miles of shoreline in over 100 countries from being batters by the ocean’s force. The coral reefs also generating billions of dollars in tourism revenue. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s National Marine Fisheries Service estimates the annual commercial value of U.S. fisheries from coral reefs to be over $100 million.

 

Which sounds smarter?

Information does not exist in a vacuum. There is no such thing as facts for facts sake. 

Information in a CIA speech should always do one of the following:

  • Supports why your Clash is the most relevant
  • Shows why your Call to Action is the most important
  • Shows why your country has the position it does
  • Disproves information brought by another delegate

Information in follow up speeches usually moves between these four. In earlier speeches the “I” focuses more on your own world-building and less on countering other countries. However, MUN simulation has a lot going on and the Information should be used, as deemed appropriate, on a case by case basis.

Action

Call to Action (CtA) is a statement designed to give instructions for an immediate response.

In MUN, your CtA is the practical policy to solve the issue you set up in your clash.

Without a clear CtA other delegates will not know what to do with the Clash and Information you presented. Worse, they can use what you set up in your speech to justify other CtA’s.

A Call to Action needs to be Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Timely (SMART). 

Your CtA needs to be specific as to:

  • Where you will get funding from
  • Which organizations will be involved
  • What you will send
  • Etc.

Example:

Clash: Let’s send teachers to the refugee camps in Ethiopia.

CtA: Hiring 300 teachers who specialize in teaching English and Math, to United Nations run high schools at the 3 refugee camps in the Tigray region in Ethiopia.

We can’t send “teachers” as we don’t know what types how many, where to send them or what they are going to do. However, when we look at the CtA, we can guestimate the cost of 300 teachers who specialize in English and Math and now know where to send them.

A good Call to Action explains the problem, the solution and what it’s going to do.

Specific actionable policy ideas will allow you to direct the discussion, and later take credit for the ideas when everyone else has the same general stance (ex. “humanitarian aid”).

Structure of an opening speech

The opening speeches at most MUN conferences are 60 seconds. 

However, you should ask your conference team if you are unsure about the opening speech times since this could differ. Take into considerations, a delegate could motion to change the opening speeckers time during the course of the conference or a chair could change the time due to other unforeseen reasons …. So  even if the opening speech is as short as 30 seconds, or as long as two minutes, the structure remains the same.

  1. Clash
  2. Information – Sprinkled throughout
  3. Call to Action

Clash

Clash breaks into two parts, clashline and explanation.

How to start an MUN opening speech

A good MUN opening speech goes straight to the point. The longer you take the more of a risk you run that they’ll find someone else to focus on like passing a note, writing an opening speech of their own, chatting to the delegate next to them, etc. Your strong opener is your Clashline.

Clashline – Your first few lines. It tells the listener what clash you want to focus on. Shouldn’t be more than 10 seconds.

Examples of Clashlines:

Syrian refugees who spent over three years in refugee camps should get work visas
Countries should be responsible for their own epidemics
The UN should send food aid to the people of North Korea

Clash explanation – Your next few seconds should explain why what you are speaking about is important by showing why your clash is the correct one.

Example:

Examples of Explanation:
Clashline: “The UN should send unconditional food aid to the people of North Korea.”
Explanation: “The leadership is stable and not looking to change any time soon. Life will continue the same for the elites as the people are starving. This is why the food should be sent now.”

This is a good example of getting straight to the point. Within four sentences we have a clear idea that human rights come second to the leadership of the DPRK. This clarity of Clashline and Explanation can be used in any MUN committee from the General Assembly, ECOSOC, DISEC, SOCHUM and WHO to the Security Council and even a crisis committee.

Information
Facts in your speech always have a purpose. That purpose is almost always one of the following:
– Show why your Clash is the most relevant
– Show why your Call to Action will make the biggest difference
– Explain why your country has the position it does
– Disprove information brought by another delegate

Use of information to strengthen a speech

Clash: The UN should send unconditional food aid to the people of North Korea. Kim Jong Un is 35 years old. He’s not going anywhere anytime soon. At the same time, 10.5 million people, which is 41% of the total population, are undernourished. Life will continue the same for the elites as the people are starving.

Call to Action

You should describe your policy / solution halfway through your speech at the latest. This is because you need time to elaborate on your solution. No idea is clear in one sentence. You will need time to explain why it is important and why it is going to work.

Example:

Use of Call to Action

The United Nations should send 240 million tons of food aid to the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea. This food should be sent over two years. 30 million should be sent every three months as long as Kim Jong Un abides by the following.

  1. Regular scheduled UN inspections every six months.
  2. Surprise inspections are accommodated.

This text can be turned into clauses for a draft resolution. The main idea is clear.

Closing your Opening Speech

After your Call to Action, a summary sentence can be a nice way to close your speech.

However, this should not come at the expense of your content or important details of your Call to Action. Style should never trump substance.

What if you have extra time in my opening speech?

If you find yourself with extra time in your opening speech, and you used the CIA format in your speech.

Do the following:

  1. Elaborate on additional points you didn’t get enough time to introduce.
  2. Set up ideas that you can follow up in your next speech.
  3. Reinforce your main points.
  4. End your speech early if you really have nothing to add.

It should be rare to have extra time in your opening speech if you planned wisely, when you happen to find yourself with extra time use it strategically.

Types of MUN Topics

How it Impacts your Opening Speech

There are three types of MUN topics, Open, Semi-Open and Closed.

Types of MUN Topics:

Open
Open topics are very broad and should be significantly narrowed to create the clash in an opening speech.

Example – Combatting the Slave Trade

This topic is very broad and could be about anything that has to do with slavery in the world today.  What does slave trade mean? It could be child slavery, forced labor or the sex trade. It could be placed in the developed world or developing world. It could be about countries of origin, transit countries or destinations. To be debatable the opening speech needs to move from the topic to something specific to set the Clash.

Semi-Open
Semi-Open topics are similar to open topics and should be narrowed and focused. They have more direction than open topics but you are still required to choose from a few directions to set the clash.

Example – The right to the internet of children in developing countries

There is an understanding of what types of countries and populations that we’re focusing on but there is still work needed to set a Clash. What ages are the children? Who is providing the internet, government, the UN or an NGO? What about the devices to use the internet?

Closed

Closed topics have a clear main clash. Most, or all, of the countries in the committee will fall onto one side or the other. For closed topics, countries without a clear point of view still need to pick a side before they can begin discussing the issue.

Example – Sending aid to the people of North Korea.

While you still need to decide what types of aid, how much and what conditions, the question of “should we send aid” is a yes or no question that each country should have an opinion on and which strongly influences their starting point in the discussion.

You can learn more about the three types of MUN topics here.

Below are MUN opening speech samples for an open and closed topic.

MUN Opening Speech Examples

The following MUN speech examples show both good and bad opening speeches.
After the speech, there will be a breakdown according to CIA and an analysis of the speech evaluating what worked, what didn’t and why.

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MUN Opening Speech Example – Open Topic

Committee: World Food Program

Topic: Eradicating Global Hunger

Country: Norway

Honorable chair distinguished delegates,

The first step to stopping starvation is improving access to clean water, critical for food growth. Half of the 800 million people without access to clean water live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kingdom of Norway believes that the WFP’s efforts should focus on community-oriented aid to promote self-sufficient living. Norway thinks self-operated water harvesting devices are a good way to do this. The University of Akron in Ohio developed a water harvester that produces 10 gallons of drinking water per hour from thin air. The UN should purchase, and distribute, water harvesters to the countries most in need such as Niger, Burundi and Mozambique. For the UN to ensure long term success, the WFP should transfer harvesters and not funds to the countries in need.

The Breakdown

Clash

Information

Call to Action

The first step to stopping starvation is improving access to clean water, critical for food growth. Half of the 800 million people without access to clean water live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kingdom of Norway believes that the WFP’s efforts should focus on community-oriented aid to promote self-sufficient living. Norway thinks self-operated water harvesting devices are a good way to do this. The University of Akron in Ohio developed a water harvester that produces 10 gallons of drinking water per hour from thin air. The UN should purchase, and distribute, water harvesters to the countries most in need such as Niger, Burundi and Mozambique. For the UN to ensure long term success, the WFP should transfer harvesters and not funds to the countries in need.

Clash – Improving access to clean water is how we tackle global hunger.

When asked in a question, “Does stopping starvation means providing access to clean water as the first priority?” Some countries will agree and some will not.

Information – 400 million people don’t have access to water in sub-Saharan Africa. (Numbers) Water harvester in the University of Akron produced 10 gallons of water per hour. (Numbers and names) Niger, Burundi and Mozambique are countries that could use this. (Names)

Call to Action – The UN should replace cash with water harvesters and give them directly to the people in need.

This Call to Action has two parts. In a follow-up speech, Norway can say that they give $975 million in aid to sub-Saharan countries. This can support why they want to make sure their investment is spent correctly. Also, even if the committee doesn’t go for water harvesters, or even water, the idea of not sending cash to the countries in need can still be central to the discussion.

Speech Analysis

Norway is hedging her bets and, while going in strong, leaves room to maneuver. The subtext of her case is countries should use whatever they are given responsibly and handing cash to governments is not an effective means. As long as whatever policy is chosen is done more responsibly (by what Norway considers responsible) she can still have a strong impact on the committee even if none of her policies go through.

MUN Opening Speech Example – Closed topic

Committee: International Organization for Migration (IOM)

Topic: Changing visa policy to combat illegal migration

Country: United Kingdom

Honorable chair distinguished delegates, 

The United Kingdom is strongly against making visa access easier. While the death of the 39 Chinese found inside a refrigerated lorry from Bulgaria on October 23rd, 2019 is regrettable, our only option is informing potential migrants of the danger to themselves.

Illegal migration into Britain is around 650,000—give or take a couple hundred thousand. Many of these enter countries on tourist visas and then stay. Changing the laws will only give smugglers more opportunities.

Britain proposes the UN create translated online platforms to apply for legal visas, while also showing the dangers of illegal migration. The UN should invest in the proliferation, so this information reaches the right people. The smugglers who get past our x-ray machines, canine units, heartbeat monitors and carbon-dioxide sniffers are extremely resourceful. If we loosen visa laws, they will adapt and continue to take money from the poor but now with the white hats, we handed to them.

The Breakdown

Clash

Information

Call to Action

Honorable chair distinguished delegates, 
The United Kingdom is strongly against making visa access easier. While the death of the 39 Chinese found inside a refrigerated lorry from Bulgaria on October 23rd, 2019 is regrettable, our only option is informing potential migrants of the danger to themselves.
Illegal migration into Britain is around 650,000—give or take a couple hundred thousand. Many of these enter countries on tourist visas and then stay. Changing the laws will only give smugglers more opportunities.

Britain proposes the UN create translated online platforms to apply for legal visas, while also showing the dangers of illegal migration. The UN should invest in the proliferation, so this information reaches the right people. The smugglers who get past our x-ray machines, canine units, heartbeat monitors and carbon-dioxide sniffers are extremely resourceful. If we loosen visa laws, they will adapt and continue to taking money from the poor but now with the white hats, we handed to them.

Clash – Do not change the visa laws. Like at all.

Information – 39 victims inside a lorry from Bulgaria (numbers and names), Illegal migration into Britain + – 650,000 (number), x-ray machines, canine units, heartbeat monitors and carbon-dioxide sniffers (specific names of detection methods.)

Call to Action – UN online platform in local languages explaining the visa process and warning of dangers. UN should create a mechanism to make sure the platform reaches relevant people. (How to reach people needs elaboration in later speeches) 

Speech Analysis

This speech starts with the UK clearly stating that they are against changing visa status, which shows which side of the main clash he is on. He brings information which he knows those who want to change visa status to save lives will bring up and says, despite that, he is against.

The UK brings many new stakeholders into the discussion such as the resourceful smugglers and how most illegal migrants come with tourist visas and stay.

As draft resolutions are practical policies, it isn’t enough to be against changing visas. The UK also needs to propose something proactive. The online resource is a good policy proposal in that it gives the IOM sometimes to advocate for which does not require a change in visa law. All countries that don’t want to change their immigration policy can get behind this idea that does not really change anything. It’s a position that many countries could back and might even get a majority. By putting the focus on resourceful smugglers, the UK is moving away from the danger to human life by saying the real enemy is the smugglers, who will be empowered by changing visa law.

Examples of Bad MUN Opening Speeches

Example Bad Opening Opening Speech - #1

Committee: ECOSOC

Country: Egypt

TOPIC:  Rebuilding the Middle East

We, the Arab Republic of Egypt believe that we should help rebuild the Middle East and specifically Syria.

While the 580,000 casualties of the civil war in Syria are extremely regrettable, the real victims are the people trying to stay alive in the conflict zone that is modern Syria. More than 6.2 million people are displaced. 13.1 million are still in need of humanitarian assistance. The estimated unemployment rate stands at 54 percent. Also, 83.5 percent of the 19,454,263 Syrians live below the poverty line. Cities have been engulfed in crime, police stations closed down and the overall police personal dropped from 100,000 officers to 20,000. Rates of theft increased, with criminals looting houses and stores. To fix this problem we need to rebuild the Middle East by rebuilding Syria!

The Breakdown

Clash – Rebuilding the Middle East = Rebuilding Syria 

Information – A lot of facts about how difficult life is in Syria.

Call to Action – There is none.

Speech Analysis

This speech starts with the clash going half way. It focuses the rebuilding efforts on Syria. This excludes Iraq, and other candidate states, but is also a fairly predictable option which could be expected from a majority of delegates (at least if the committee takes place late 2019).

After the place setting in Syria, the speech brings many facts. This shows research but a clear lack of focus. The facts shows life in Syria is difficult, but the knowledge that life is difficult for Syrians is something everyone in the committee probably knows. The information is scattered between those who need aid, those who are unemployed and the information about dropping police forces. There is no Call to Action to make use of the data so the listener is left with the conclusion that life in Syria is hard, which they knew before the committee began.

Furthermore, the information in this speech can be used to support almost any Call to Action, from sending emergency humanitarian aid workers throughout the country to giving 100% support to Bashar Assad to reassert full control. This is the danger in giving a speech with a sort of Clash, Information and no Call to Action. Anyone can use your facts to support their own agenda.

Example Bad Opening Opening Speech #2

Committee: ECOSOC

Country: Ireland

TOPIC:  Rebuilding the Middle East

The Republic of Ireland declares that we need to rebuild the Middle East! Ireland believes that we should take action against the war and apply sanctions against the rebel terrorists in Syria and even resort to military action if necessary to stop the war. Syria is in such a poor condition because of the west’s irresponsible behavior regarding the war. The millions who died and fled are directly our fault. This is the same level of neglect seen after the Vietnam war in 1975, when we left over 2 million as the casualty count and fled to lick our wounds and rebuild ourselves. Once the war is over, we should send financial aid to rebuild Syria again and prevent any future wars from happening. 

The Breakdown

Clash – Unclear. 1) Rebuild the Middle East (off clash), 2) Apply Sanctions against rebel terrorists in Syria, 3) Resort to military action.

Information – Vietnam war ended in 1975. Casualty count of over 2 million.

Call to Action – Send financial aid.

Speech Analysis

This speech is a mess of mixed messages. The Clashline is Off Clash, as there likely isn’t a country who would say they do not support the idea of rebuilding the Middle East (whatever that means). We then hear “we should apply sanctions against the terrorists in Syria” with no further explanation of how this will work or who they are. We then hear “resort to military action to stop the war” with no explanation about who we are taking action against. It could be the undefined terrorists mentioned before. It could be the Syrian army. It could be someone else.

The information in this speech is about the Vietnam war. The example is extremely dated, and the numbers undefined and possibly incorrect. However, the larger issue with the information is that it doesn’t serve a purpose. The west abandoning the Middle East is never even hinted at in the beginning of the clash. It also has nothing to do with the one liner Call to Action that comes later.

The Call to Action, if we can even call it that, has nothing to do with any previous part of the speech. If anything, sending aid is the opposite of sanctions and war, both of which have nothing to do with the American withdrawal from Vietnam in 1975.

Overall, this is a confusing speech where each part sends a different message from the other parts. This speech is very open to highjacking by another delegate who will say that this speech supports their ideas. Another option is this speech is ignored. What is clear is the direction the committee takes will likely not be set by this speech.

Example Bad Opening Opening Speech - #3

Committee: ECOFIN

Country: Peru

Topic: Responsible Usage of Arctic Resources

 

Peru believes that every Arctic country has the sovereignty to use their resources.

However, because of the climate changes, we should create a special committee that will discuss this subject and find ways to decrease the ecological damage. The Arctic region contains major reserves of uranium, copper, tungsten, gold, diamonds and most importantly gas and oil. In addition, it’s one of the largest freshwater reservoirs in the world. Climate changes and release of contaminants in the Arctic have potential to affect European and global weather patterns. The Arctic is particularly sensitive to the effects of global warming, and icebergs are melting at a rapid rate. Scientists fear that it will cause a significant rise in sea levels around the world, and that in the 20th of the 21 century there will be no ice zone at all during the summer.

 

The Breakdown

 

Clash – Countries can use resources within their territory.

Information – Names of resources in the arctic and some more scattered data.

Call to Action – Create a special committee.

 

Speech Analysis

This speech starts with a pretty clear Clash, that countries who have access to the arctic can use their resources as they please. The next line contradicts the first and presents either an alternative Clash or a Call to Action in the form of creating a “special committee” to find ways to decrease egonolical damage (first time this is mentioned).  The rest of the speech is an array of information that doesn’t really point at anything. Some of it counts as Information in the form of new facts but most of what is said doesn’t really serve a purpose. At the end of the speech we are left wondering what was the point. From the third sentence the speech rambles on with no connection to the Clash or Call to Action which end up forgotten by the end of the speech..

Example Bad Opening Opening speech - #4

Committee: ECOFIN

Country: Cuba

Topic: Responsible Usage of Arctic Resources

 

The Arctic states are completed and integrated by customary international sea law and several treaties. The Arctic includes areas of the national sovereignty. Cuba fully respects these sovereign rights and will be ready to play their role to confront global challenges with its scientific and technological expertise and leading companies to contribute to a sustainable Arctic development while respecting the ecosystem and indigenous people.

In this frame, Cuba expects the extending bilateral and multilateral cooperation in the Arctic, in the framework of international law to create a committee to cooperate in the following subjects: wider access of geo- strategic interest, scientific cooperation on climate change and environmental protection, economic expertise in the use of mineral resources, cooperation on human lives in extreme climate conditions.

 

The Breakdown

 

Clash – None.

Information – None.

Call to Action – Create a committee to do basically everything.

 

Speech Analysis

This speech opening with what is clearly not a clashline. Cuba then says they “fully respect sovereign rights” and continue with a run on sentence (specifically how they will “play their role to confront global challenges” using “scientific and technological expertise and leading companies” to “contribute to a sustainable Arctic development” while “respecting the ecosystem and indigenous people.”)

This delegate’s opening speech, unknowingly, tries to cover everything. The same can be seen in their call to action where the committee is created to do 5 separate things, which could each be an entire Call to Action in its own right.

This speech is hard to follow and tries to commit to so many different things. As a result, almost any other delegate can say that Cuba supports them. There are buzzwords like terms that have no clear link between them such as “sustainable Arctic development”,  “ecosystem”, “indigenous people” and more. Overall, it is a difficult speech to follow where the listener is left without a clear idea of what the delegate wants, unless if what they want is absolutely everything.

Example Bad Opening Opening Speech - #4

Committee: ECOFIN

Country: Dominican Republic

Topic: Responsible Usage of Arctic Resources

The Dominican Republic says we have to take care of the arctic. It is important because there are many resources there which the world will be sad to lose. It also has endangered species.

We have not been careful with the arctic. Countries could also go to war over it. We need to be responsible. This means setting up mechanisms to protect the environment. We should also create treaties to protect nature and the natural resources there.

We owe it to our children and their children to take care of the arctic. We will have failed them if they ask us “why were you not responsible”. We need to be able to have an answer. As ECOFIN, we need to make sure the United Nations ensures that its member states use the arctic responsibly or do not use it at all. If we want an arctic when we are older we need to protect it today!

The Breakdown

Clash – The clash in this speech is off clash.

Information – There are zero facts in this speech.

Call to Action – “take care of the arctic” which could mean anything.

Speech Analysis

This speech could have been written by someone who only read the name of the topic. Everything in it is general. No fact is present and no original idea is presented.

The only merit of this speech is that it can be read dramatically but even then there is nothing to remember except for lines like “we owe it to our children and their children to take care of the arctic.” At best, this speech shows eloquence and a knack for drama. What it does not do is set or drive debate in any way. Coming away from this you can assume no research was done and there is possibly a lack of understanding of how a MUN works.

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Adapting Your Opening Speech in Real Time 

At this point, you should be able to understand the different parts of a MUN opening speech and how they work together. Inspired by the examples and opening speech analysis, the patterns and characteristics of a good MUN opening speech should be clear. The final part of the opening speech process is the modifications you will sometimes need to do to adapt your speech to the previous speeches that came before yours.

MUN RULE:
Always ready to adapt in real-time.
This rule applies to your opening speech.

Just because it’s your first speech, doesn’t mean it’s the first speech in the committee room. 

Ideas will come up from the very first opening speech in the committee. Once a delegate utters the words,“Honorable chair distinguished delegate” you should be ready to make a few modifications to your opening speech. Adapting  to the room and the ideas is key to success in MUN.

Factor in the speaking order

Opening speeches are usually heard alphabetically.
Other options are reverse alphabetical, in order of seating or completely at random

Write your speech to build on top of others

Take note of the first letter of your country, write your speech with your place in the speaking order in mind.
Countries with the letters A through C often give the first speeches, since not every committee has interviews countries with every letter in the alphabet. : )

(Remember although most conferences have opening speeches in alphabetical order, this is not a guarantee) 

The countries who start their opening speech have first crack at defining the terms, setting the Clash and introducing the first Calls to Action.

More delegates on your Clash = Better

If you are not the first delegate making an opening speech, it is very possible you will join an existing Clash. Joining other delegates with the same idea is not a bad thing. The more delegates who subscribe to your world view the better chance you have to get a majority.

Hearing your Clash by another delegate in previous speeches is a very good thing. This lays the foundation to start building your coalition already during the opening speech stage through a tactic called echoing .

If you are not the first delegate making an opening speech, think what is likely to have been said and add to it. It is very possible you will join an existing Clash. This is not a bad thing. The more delegates there are who subscribe to your world view the better chance you have to get a majority.

As long as it isn’t Off Clash, hearing your Clash in some of the previous speeches is a very good thing. This means you can start building your coalition already during the opening speech stage through a tactic called echoing.

Echo others

Echoing is mentioning another country by name in your speech. You can echo that you agree with them or disagree. You can directly quote or paraphrase. Echoing is not limited to opening speeches but it is a very potent strategy to use when you aren’t the first speaker.

How to Echo:

Echoing in an opening speech is usually best done right before your clash. You can also echo a country in the middle of your speech but it has a larger chance of getting missed.

Echoing in an opening speech can look something like this:

“Portugal agrees with Denmake, France and Haiti and disagreed with Russia and Pakistan.”

When you mention another country by name their ears perk up and they listen. You want allies and the opposing bloc to listen. You definitely want the countries you mention by name to listen.

Echoing in an opening speech needs to have a purpose. The purpose is usually to start putting your coalition together. Mentioning someone else in your speech grants you street credit with them. On a secondary level echoing helps set the Clash. Other countries will see that a number of delegates see your Clash as the issue to discuss and can choose to come on board, or at least acknowledge the Clash as something to be addressed.

Echo Tip

If you are not one of the first speakers echoing it is also a way to show other delegates that you’re listening. If you mention countries who spoke at the beginning when you’re one of the later delages to speak, it sounds like your stopped listening at the beginning. It’s better to echo a country from the beginning, middle and a few speakers before you. This way the delegates in the room know your are attentive. 

Echoing other delegates as a way to communicate with them from within your opening speech. Those extra words can help you start building coalitions, and agreeing on what reality the committee is taking place in, before the opening speeches end.

Finally, remember that echoing is part of your word count. If you’re going to echo, factor that into your speech time. A strategy some delegates use is writing their opening speech with 10 words less than fits a minute to leave room for echoing.

Saying CtA Best > Saying CtA First

Some MUN topics have a limited number of policies that can be implemented. If you’re a further down the opening speech list it is very likely someone said your policy, or something like it. This too is a good thing. When the topic has only three or four viable policies, it should be expected that some ideas will repeat themselves.

Example:

If you’re dealing with an earthquake there are only so many ways to rescue people from under the rubble.

If you’re dealing with a virus, there are only so many ways to vaccinate and research an antidote.

This is why would should not worry about saying the Call to Action first. On some topics, if you’re the only one to say it, you likely have a much larger problem

This is where going into detail and SMART policy come into play. You can echo the other countries who mentioned your policy idea in one line and develop it. If they gave one line at the end of their speech but you take 25 seconds to explain, the credit will go to you.

Remember that your opening speech is not the end, it’s a beginning. The delegate who best develops the idea, and pushes it the furthest over time, is the one who gets the credit. Also, you don’t need to do it alone. Having one or two strong allies will make a big difference when it comes to getting your Call to Action a central place of the draft resolution. MUN is a team activity and there is no promise of an easy ride to a majority. That is also part of the fun and the magic that is MUN. Be open to working with others and see the other delegates who try to set your Clash or introduce your Call to Action as an opportunity. CIA alone is more work for you. Others joining and supporting  your CIA is the essence of cooperation and leveling up in Model United Nations.

Conclusion

There you have it. The secret to writing a great MUN opening speech. Remember, a speech alone is not though. You need to combine it with proper country representation, good coalition work, and resolution writing. However, if you give a bad opening speech you will need to work extra hard to catch up afterward. This can potentially be especially hard in an expert room.

You will also have to give other speeches after the first one. There are all types of follow up speeches that are needed to keep your CIA going. Once the ideas are out, their repetition is key to keeping your ideas on the table and yourself relevant. However, now that you gave a great opening speech, you have a much better chance to influence the direction the committee takes.

You should also use the tools of CIA speech writing to critically listen to others. Listen to hear what they are missing, whether it’s a Clash, a Call to Action or data to back it up. Write notes on their speeches and factor that into your general strategy.

The tools you gained here are relevant for high school MUN, college or university MUN as well as for other platforms that involve public speech. More importantly, these tools can also be used outside of MUN. After all, being relevant, interesting and driving conversation are even more important outside of a Model UN committee simulation. Make these tools second nature and they should serve you well for a long time.