How to Write a Great MUN Speech – Guide
Speeches in MUN are one of the most important communication tools in Model United Nations. Speeches are where you make your first impression, how your ideas alive and relevant, and an effective way to send messages to allies, opposing blocks, and chairs all at once.
Our “How to write a great MUN Speech” guide will teach you to avoid speaking in generalizations, maximize your speech time and drive your points home with the desired audience. This guide will start by teaching the CIA method of MUN speech writing, continue with how to write a strong opening speech. Later, we elaborate on strategies for both opening and follow up speeches.
Whether a speech for your opening statement, General Speakers List (GSL), moderated caucus, or any time during a MUN committee session, our guide will help you understand the mechanics to achieve your MUN speech goal!
What makes a great MUN speech?
- Appealing to delegates emotions or a solid clash?
- Impressive collection of facts or relevant information?
- Strong quote with historic significance or a clear call to action?
It’s extremely important to have a structure to your speech. Each and every point mentioned are important for your MUN speech. It’s how you put them together that makes your speech from good to great. Having a strong quote with no clear call to action will not take you far. Having a coherent clash and solid information with a clear call to action will help take your MUN speech to the next level.
Having the floor to give your MUN speech is extremely valuable, so you want to ensure you utilize your time effectively. Sometimes a MUN speech needs to be very exact to achieve its desired goals while others need more nuance. Make sure you have a clear idea of the messages and concepts you want to convey before you start your speech.
If you don’t know where you’re going, you might end up exactly where you started.
The CIA Method for MUN speech writing developed by Daniel Gindis to help delegates around the globe make amazing MUN speeches no matter how long you have been doing MUN.
Writing down our MUN speech word for word is a tried and tested strategy for many MUN veterans. Knowing what to write is where it can get a bit tricky at times. No matter if you are writing your opening speech where you are giving off your first impression to the room with your ideas, concepts, policies and strategies, or your later speeches throughout the MUN conference the CIA method will help you with getting that message across.
Understanding the components which make up the different parts of a MUN speech is what allows a delegate to harness and direct the message how they see fit. When done right, it is not down to ‘luck’, but rather following a method of understanding each of the three components of the CIA speech writing method. Follow this guide for MUN speech writing utilizing the CIA method and your MUNing will never be the same.
CIA stands for Clash, Information and (call to) Action. These three elements are needed for a MUN speech to be maximally effective; missing any of them will significantly weaken a delegate’s speech. A strong CIA speech, combined with proper country representation (See article on ‘How to Effectively Representing your Country’), and good coalition work will lead to the most effective type of delegating.
Clash – A confrontation of ideas, specifically an important two-sided issue within the topic that you want the committee to discuss.
Information – Relevant facts, ideally numbers, that support other parts of your speech. Information can also be facts about your country that justifies your position.
Action – The practical policy you offer to solve the issue you set up in your clash.
A confrontation of ideas.
Example: We cannot censor people who incite violence in a country with complete freedom of speech.
A clash in MUN would be – Two opinions in direct opposition on one idea, therefore clashing with each other.
For something to be a clash, delegates from your committee need to be on either side of it. If there are no two sides it is not something the committee will debate and 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 the debate on the floor.
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 who 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)
How do you select a clash when preparing?
Some topics have many possible clashes. In those cases, you should choose the one you feel will be more relevant to the discussion.
Example - World Health Organization
Committee: World Health Organization
Topic: Combating the Zika Virus
Clash 1: Increase the number of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika.
Clash 2: Remove patent restriction 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.
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.
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.
Information does not exist in a vacuum. There is no such thing as facts for fact’s sake.
Information in a CIA speech always does 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 have a lot going on and the Information should be used and modified on a case by case basis.
Call to Action
Call to Action (CtA) is a statement designed to give instructions for an immediate response.
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 your set up 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 you work
- What will you send
Clash: Sending Teachers to the refugee camps in Ethiopia.
CtA: Hiring 300 teachers who specialize 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 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”).
Example MUN Opening Speech
This MUN speech sample is an opening speech for MUN. It can also work as a first General Speakers List (GSL) speech if your MUN conference doesn’t have mandatory opening statements. See how the Clash is set, Information used and Calls to Action introduced.
TOPIC: CLEAN WATER
Honorable chair, distinguished delegates:
800 million people across the globe are living without access to clean water. Half of them live in Sub-Saharan Africa. The Kingdom of Norway believes that our efforts should focus there, and these efforts should involve the entire international community. Norway has donated over $975 million in aid to sub Saharan countries and invites countries who have not donated to join the effort.
Norway proposes we focus on community-oriented aid in the form of water harvesting devices. A good option is the water harvester developed by the University of Akron in Ohio which produce up to 10 gallons of drinking water per hour from thin air.
To ensure long term success, the United Nations should transfer the funding after there is sufficient training to build and operate the water-gathering device without continued external support.
Community-oriented aid is a big step towards universal access to clean water. Let’s say H2”NO” to the water crisis!!!
Example GSL Speech
This GSL sample speech is comes after the opening speeches are concluded and twenty minutes worth of speakers into the session after the General Speakers list is opened.
TOPIC: CLEAN WATER
Honorable Chair, Distinguished Delegates,
Comoros agrees with Canada, Ecuador, and Tanzania that cleaning water is the top priority and disagrees with Norway and Chad that water creation is an affordable or viable solution.
In small countries like Comoros the largest problem is water so polluted it is fatal to drink. Karthala, our most active volcano, erupted in April 2005 and May 2006. Each time, it destroyed multiple freshwater sources. It also took years to clean the volcanic ash that comes back as acid rain.
Our salvation was UNICEF and the European Commission’s Humanitarian Aid Office which give us $1.3 million to clean more than 1,500 reservoirs and bring fresh water to more than 150,000 people.
Comoros is aware that most countries do not have active volcanoes. However, water pollution is a global phenomenon, whether from other natural disasters or corporations who pollute without accountability. Comoros suggest the creation of UN-funded permanent water filtration programs. These can also be funded with proceeds from Canada’s policy to make polluting companies pay for their own cleanup.
Observe how echoing other delegates are used to shout out allies and members of other blocks. Notice how Information is used to offer an alternative issue to focus on instead of the one offered by Norway in the MUN Opening Speech Example. Additionally, observe how the Call to Action offered by Comoros is connected to the policy offered by Canada, showing willingness to work together. Most importantly, see how CIA is central to the speech even though many GSL speeches came before it.
The principles remain consistent. If you don’t fight to keep your clash on the table it could be lost and another takes its place. Information is always needed to support opinions. A Call to Action is introduced or repeated, keeping itself on the table and, where possible, linking back to the delegate’s national interest.
CIA Method – Continued
Defining the terms of the debate generally dictates who’s gonna win it.
How To Find The Clash
A Clash is where two opposing opinions collide on one issue. More specifically, a clash is an issue within the general topic that our research, and MUN instincts, tell us will be central to the discussion and where our country can likely get a majority.
This basic concept is important because two ideas which do not clash mean the two delegates are likely not actually arguing and their ideas may coexist on a resolution.
Tool Tip: Quick way to find the clash
Phrase your statement in the form of a question.
Example: Should we allow countries to freely develop chemical weapons?
If one country says “yes” and the other “no” then you’ve found the clash (or a clash)!
When some countries will say yes and some no we have a clash. This does not mean the two sides need to be equal in size, just that there is resistance and through that discussion.
When everyone agrees there is no debate. Without an impasse, there is no place for creative solutions or innovative ideas. A discussion without clash is also very boring to delegates.
Finding a Strong Clash
For a Clash to work as a Clash it needs to convey the following:
- Which issue within the greater topic which we want to focus on
- Which side of that two-sided issue you are on
Gambia: We should increase the number of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika.
Norway: We should increase the subsidy to develop medicines to counter Zika.
In this example, you can see that the policy proposals don’t actually disagree with each other, and while they could both speak about the limitations of the other proposal, there is no reason not to merge.
Gambia: We should increase the number of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika
Indonesia: We should decrease the number of doctors in the Zika prone area of Peru, as they are also at risk
In this example, we see that there is a direct clash, thus the same resolution, to be sound, cannot include both.
In Model UN, the idea is to solve global issues deemed important by the UN. The ability to improve upon the status quo means overcoming an existing barrier. For this reason, the greatest achievement a resolution can reach is if the sides give ground on something they previously did not and “go where it hurts”. It is these potential points of progress that are most interesting to discuss, and the debate will naturally flow to disagreement, as there is no reason to discuss points everyone agrees on. For this reason, it is important to find a good clash and set it, so that the debate is about what you want it to be about.
If no one sets the clash, it will happen anyway, because the nature of Model United Nations is to discuss issues. However, discussions can easily go in a direction no one wants, or at least some countries aren’t interested in. For this reason, each delegate should present a clear clash in their speech, as well as which side of the clash they are on.
Vietnam: Honorable Chair, Distinguished Delegates, Vietnam believes the best way to keep zika from spreading is to restrict travel from all countries which have Zika, specifically limiting who can use airports.
The speech can continue but after around 12 seconds, we know that:
- Exactly what Vietnam wants to focus on and
- Which side of the clash Vietnam is on (Vietnam is for a travel ban)
Unless someone else directly disagrees with Vietnam’s idea, it can reach the final resolution undisturbed. However, it is likely to get more attention, and even be mentioned in other delegates’ speeches, than a policy to increase funding to develop a cure. What is certain, is that both of these ideas will get more of a response than a speech about how Zika is a terrible virus and a danger to all; something everyone in the room already knows and agrees upon.
The Danger of Being Off Clash
Along with strong clashes, there are also many statements and directions which are off clash. Being off clash is when you say something nobody in the room will disagree with. An off clash speech can be very emotional but, in the end, it takes critical time away from important material and new examples or ideas, which could further a delegate’s case.
Examples of Off Clash statements:
Statement #1: A nuclear holocaust is a horrible thing
Statement #2: Honor killings are bad
Statement #3: The Zika virus endangers lives and spreads fear
Statement #4: Civil wars destroy countries
Off clash statements can be more complex than those above. However, the core issue is the same in that entire speeches can be wasted developing and delivering points that everyone already agrees on. Another issue with off clash speeches is that they are easy to fill emotion and memorable sound bites because the content is so polarized. An experienced delegate will easily see through this, while beginners will often not remember a clear point because of all the bells and whistles.
A MUN speech succeeds when, after it ends, the listener thinks “I agree”, “I disagree”, “I want to hear more”, “I want to work with her/him!”, “I should keep an eye of her/him.” or “I have a question.”
The speech fails when the listener has none of those thoughts. Sometimes, by the first sentence of the following speech, the previous will already be forgotten. As stated above, an even worse response is when all anyone else remember from the speech is a funny or emotional line. Avoid sentences charged with feeling like “think of the children” (unless that is actually the topic) and stick to set a strong clash.
Statement #1: A nuclear holocaust is a horrible thing
Statement #2: Governments should decide their own fate without fear of international pressure or retaliation.
To both of these statements, two very different countries (say, the United States & North Korea) would have the same answer. This is because the statements are too polarized and are thus beyond the clash.
Statement #3: A country should have complete freedom to pursue nuclear ambitions.
To this third statement, the US and DPRK would not agree and thus we find a clear cash. This clash can be seen in a topic with two sides, where progress for one side comes at the “expense” of the other. Clearly, many countries will have a lot to say on the matter.
Choosing the Right Clash
There are many possible clashes, and some will be more in a country’s favor than others.
Gambia: We should increase the number of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika
Norway: We should increase the subsidy to develop medicines to counter Zika
Mexico: We should develop chemicals which kill mosquitoes
Vietnam: Should we impose a travel ban on potential carriers from countries with Zika?
Iceland: We should make abortion laws less restrictive, to prevent the birth of fetuses found with the virus
In this example, El Salvador would not want to discuss the clash set by Iceland. This is because abortions are illegal in El Salvador and allowing the idea of less restrictive abortion laws would show El Salvador, and other countries which are completely against abortion, in a negative light.
Even in cases where the majority of countries in the room are anti-abortion, it is likely that abortion law is not the most important issue when discussing trying to reverse the Zika epidemic.
All of these clashes are possible contention points; progress on any of them will be a strong part of any potential resolution. Off clash speeches and ideas, however, will not get such engagement or echoing (when countries repeat each other). Setting the right clash will give the room a way to align themselves and bring about an excellent Model UN.
A strong clash, is a clash that is relevant to many clashes besides yours. That will give you more allies and make you more relevant to their ideas and discussions, keeping your points in people’s minds even after your speech. For example, finishing clinical trials to release a cure for Zika is more important, and will impact more people than increasing food aid to an inflicted area.
In a nutshell: Choose a relevant clash (clash = topic of debate with two or more clear sides to it)
- Which your country can claim is relevant to them and, preferably (but not always),
- Shows your country in a positive light.
We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.
Information = Relevant information that supports other parts of your speech
Relevant, factual Information is critical for any MUN speech to be persuasive. It shows that your claim is based on facts and is not a vague generalization, which could be made up or inaccurate. Information is the way to show you’ve done research and have strong support for your case. When done correctly, proper use of relevant information will make you look smarter and can give the impression that you have even more research up your sleeve. For information to be most useful in your speech, it needs to specifically support one of the points you are trying to make (whether the justification of the clash or why your Action is going to work). (To better understand how to use the information to support a statement, check out our SEEC method in our article on “How to Structure an Argument”)
The same statement given with the proper use of the information will make it much more persuasive and more sound at the same time.
Norway: We should increase the subsidy to develop medicines to counter Zika
Norway: We should increase the subsidy to Inovio Pharmaceuticals to further develop the GLS-5700. The trial on July 2016 had positive results and further investment of $5,700,000 could give us the best medicine yet to combat Zika.
With tangible examples, opposing countries would need to find counterexamples instead of simply saying “You’re wrong”. Also, if enough information is put into speeches over time, the underpinnings of reality will be built, giving your interpretation of the situation a much stronger case.
“I” Can Be More Than Facts
The information part of the speech doesn’t always need to be factual or example-based. What it does need to do is make the other parts of the speech stronger, fortifying the points made. While hard facts are usually best, the “I” in CIA can also be:
I – Facts (Statistics, names, dates, etc.)
I – Examples
I – Illustrations
I – Allegories
Facts and examples should be the most used device, and each speech must contain at least one of these.
When giving a story that lacks hard facts, you can cite the source of the story, which can give you some hard data to include in your speech.
You can include sources – like the UN Charter – where, instead of stating
“A country is sovereign and the UN cannot interfere in internal affairs..”
You can say
“Article 2 of the UN Charter says that ‘all members shall refrain in their international relations …”
Illustrations can bring color to a dry case and sometimes add a moral justification.
Example of Illustration
Sara woke up this morning to the sound of mortar shells. They landed far enough away that she was able to run. She did, after all, still have both her feet. Her brother was not so lucky, having lost a leg the previous week. Running for shelter, she managed to duck behind a boulder to avoid the ricocheting rocks. The bombardment stopped and Sara is ok, for now. What is happening in Wau Shilluk, South Sudan, we would call horrifying. Sara calls it Tuesday.
Note: The use if an ‘illustration’ should only happen after defining the clash where you explain what is likely to happen if we do not follow the course you suggest (i.e “The UN should NOT send peacekeepers to Myanmar (clash) – ILLUSTRATION – If we were to use peacekeepers (explain what would happen likely).
Emotional stories and tear-jerkers alone will rarely persuade delegates to join your coalition. However, good delivery can get attention, which is very important when everyone wants their speech to be listened to. You can obtain their full focus and attention, following shortly after with the point you want to get across. Everyone will be listening, it will not be missed.
Rule of “I”: Use Numbers (and Names) in Every Speech
The Information rule of thumb is that every MUN speech should have at least one number. A number is harder to argue with and makes your speech stronger and more credible.
“Their New York police force is large.”
“There are 38,422 full time police officers in New York.”
The second one clearly sounds stronger. It is more credible and also gives the listeners a general idea that can be easily understood.
Your opening speech should have three to five numbers. Later speeches should have 1-3 numbers per speech. Unique name dropping works as well. The name of the current president / prime minister, a city or region, an important treaty or some other specific name can be just as strong as a number in that it shows research and knowledge.
Remember, don’t use too many facts/numbers because then your message can get lost. Use facts to justify things / explain precedent but the bulk of your speech should be persuasion/logic/ support your own Call to Action.
“Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action.”
(Call to) Action = Your Policy = An Actionable Practical Solution
Action, as in a Call to Action, is the policy you want on the MUN resolution that will pass with a majority. This focus on actionable/practical solutions is what makes MUN different from other extracurriculars which involve speech and debate. In almost every other extracurricular, it is enough to convince others (or the judges) that one idea is better than the other. This idea can be a philosophical concept with no detail or real-world impact. In Model UN, all of the committee sessions are focused on deciding what to do about a given situation. When a resolution passes, those same actionable ideas change something in the real world. The only way for you to impact this change is if your ideas are in the resolution. This is why it is critical to have your actionable policy introduced in your first speech.
Remember that a MUN resolution is an executive order to a bureaucrat somewhere in the giant UN machine. In the real world, this official takes the instructions from the UN resolution and turns the operative clauses into a real UN operation, or mission, in the physical world.
For this reason, the Call to Action needs to be:
- Empirically measurable
To be a ‘proper’ Call to Action, you need to be able to measure it, touch it and buy it. You need to be able to clearly explain how it works to others. While MUN is a simulation, it is a realistic one; we are dealing with real world problems. As such, if you aren’t offering a change in the physical world, you offer nothing. Without a Call to Action, the point of your speech can easily be lost. Even worse, someone else can make use of your clash to justify their policy proposals.
On the other hand, a good Call to Action can be passed in a resolution without a clear Clash or Information behind it. While the lack of a Clash or influencing the debate might not get a diplomacy award, the Call to Action may still reach the final resolution.
In a nutshell – A Call to Action is telling others what to do with the information you provided in the form of a detailed, practical plan.
Why is the Call to Action so important?
The goal of a MUN simulation is to solve a problem and, most of the time, make the world a better place. However, talk is cheap; only a real action plan, measured in expected real world results, will actually change anything. It is these expected results that turn our idea into a reality and are the motivation behind all of the speeches, lobbying and negotiations we do throughout the simulation.
Call to Action I: Commission 100 mile sweeping units to operate in the newly taken village around Mosul
Problem it’s solving: Mines hidden by ISIS fighters before they withdrew from the territory
Outcome of policy: The homes can be used again and lives no longer in danger
Call to Action II: Neutral observers should supervise, secure and count the ballots from all polling stations in East Ukraine after next election
Problem it’s solving: Vote tampering of some sort
Outcome of policy: A more transparent reflection of the actual will of the people
1, 2, 3’s of a Call to Action
For a Call to Action to work, it needs to meet the following three criteria. It must:
- Solve the problem
- Fit your country’s views
- Be simple / passable
The CTA Triangle
An easy way to remember the three criteria is to use the CTA Triangle. It is a useful visual to help you remember to check if your Call to Action is sound. A good Call to Action needs to hit each of the corners.
1. Solves the Issue
After the policy is implemented, the status quo should be changed in some quantifiable way. The only exception is when a country benefits from the status quo, in which case, their Call to Action should attempt to perpetuate the issue or at least minimize the damage to it.
Austria is against using chemicals to create artificial rain during times of drought (A process called Cloud Seeding to create Enhanced Rain) because it feels this would artificially tamper with the environment. They see that 70% of the room are countries who would use Enhanced Rain to increase crop yield and do not care enough about the environment to not use it. In such a case, Austria should not take up a position completely against Cloud Seeding, as this would not get a majority. Instead, Austria should opt for a policy of a testing zone to “make sure Cloud Seeding is safe”. This Call to Action could be limited to use in a small area for five years to assess environmental impact. If this passed, as a compromise, there would be much less use of Cloud Seeding technology. Also, there are now five years to overturn this policy in the future. With 30% of the room strongly supporting limiting the use, such a compromise could be reached. As we can see, a practical policy is offered which can be quantified, and voted on, that also serves Austria’s interest, even if they don’t get everything they want.
2. Fit your country’s views
Representing your country’s interests is a very important part of the Model UN, that many delegates fail to do properly. This happens because one can give a good CIA without, inherently, representing their country. If you ignore what your country would want, you can be much more flexible regarding policy, hence many delegates falling into this trap.
True Fact: It is easier to be completely fluid, in the name of compromise and consensus, if you ignore the actual policies that were implemented and your national interest.
When you present a Call to Action, it needs to be clear to the delegates, as well as the chair, that your policy is something your country would sign off on.
Hungary cannot sponsor, or support, a policy of subsidised modified wheat and corn to those who live below the poverty line in Hungary because it has banned the cultivation and sale of GMOs.
Hungary can give tax breaks to firms who can reach minimal quota targets for organic crops to use for the same purpose.
(If you are unsure how to represent your country, or fit the representation into your CIA speech, you can find all that and more in our article on How to Effectively Represent Your Country!)
3. Be simple / passable
Your Call to Action needs to be a policy which will not get lost due to over complexity. Also, even if the minor details are somewhat complex, the main idea should be clear enough to deliver in one to three lines.
For this reason, the third criteria is called “Simple/passable”. A simple Call to Action will not be enough for a good policy. However, it is a reminder that the idea needs to be simple enough, and relevant to enough countries, to pass. If the idea is too complex and cannot obtain a majority, it does not matter how great said idea was. The balance must be perfect.
A good Call to Action must be (1) unique, (2) specific and (3) attributable to you. For that reason, you should make your policy fulfill these three criteria as much as possible, keeping in mind that you also need to stop before you risk losing your audience. Again, it is about getting the right balance.
Call to Action Rule of Thumb:
A good Call to Action needs to be as unique and detailed as possible, while being simple enough for the room to understand and relevant enough to obtain a majority.
Coming Up With a Good Call to Action
The first step to finding your Call to Action is to quantify the issue(s) you are addressing. If you do not know what you are focusing on, you cannot solve anything. There can be a few issues to discuss within each topic and many directions to take, once chosen. Some can be more strategic for a country’s interest than others. In all cases, when you set the clash, have in mind the direction you want to take the discussion, to lead it towards your desired Call to Action. The key is to make the issue-specific and then solve it.
General topic Solvable topic
Global hunger Malnutrition of children in Uttar Pradesh
Combating the Zika virus Mosquitoes who transfer Zika
Preventing domestic violence Lack of safe houses for victims
(To better understand what to do with bad study guides and topics that are too general, check out our article on What to do when your Study Guide Sucks)
You should choose no more than three issues within a given topic, though one is usually enough. Memories are short and sometimes there will be tens of delegates who need to give an opening speech. The more non-related, different ideas you give in a speech, the less likely other delegates are to follow or remember them.
Finding Inspiration For Our CtA6
There are many ways to come up with a Call to Action. It can be from:
S 1. Original thinking
S 2. Look to your country’s past in this situation
S 3. Look at what other countries have done in this situation
S 4. Look at similar situations in your country, or similar ones
S 5. Look at completely different situations and try to find inspiration
There is no wrong answer here, with many ways to find the right Call to Action for the topic your committee will be discussing.
Have an Idea before you look for one
Once you choose your issues and have quantified them into something you can solve, don’t jump back into the research; take a few minutes to think. See what ‘common sense’ solutions you can come up with, then write them down. They might even be better solutions than what was implemented by the UN. Once you have a few ideas that make sense outside of the ocean of information, continue your research. As you now have something, the material you find will either complement, or supplement what you have found. It can even replace what you originally had, but only if you find something of better value. The key is to come up with the best policy for our specific committee that we can. Having our own direction before we start looking for solutions will keep us from getting lost. Also, sometimes, our own ideas can be the missing element to a very strong Call to Action.
Final Words on Call to Action: When we finish the A of our CIA speech and know what we want to do and how we want to do it, we can be very emotionally connected to our policy. This is great! However, this emotional connection does not mean other policies cannot exist alongside it, or also be relevant, even extremely relevant.
When it comes to a Call to Action, remember that there can be many solutions to the same problem!
Even if your Call to Action is objectively the best one you know, not everyone will agree. You need to be ready to fight for why your Call to Action is extremely relevant and the best course of action to take. Also, if we don’t want to work with someone, make sure you have a Call to Action which clashes with something on the other resolution.
MUN Speech Format
While many MUN beginner delegates look for formatting instructions as they try to figure out how to prepare a GSL speech, the truth is that there is no required format for a MUN speech. CIA, country ownership and proper use of research will influence the content, but the only one who will see the speech itself is you. As long as you can clearly read the text, don’t get lost and are able to deliver it well, that is really all that matters. So format the speech in a way that suits your style.
MUN Opening Speech Strategy
When it comes to MUN speech strategy, how we start our speeches is very important. Many things can influence our first speeches, from the nature of the topic (Some topics can be more Clash or Call to Action heavy) to what letter of the alphabet our country starts with. The following strategies should be taken into account to make sure you nail your opening speech.
How to Start Your Opening Speech
The first rule of a MUN opening speech is to be interesting to your audience. This is especially important in a large committee, where they might not see you and will only hear your voice, potentially over a screechy microphone!
First Letter Of Your Country = Different Speech Strategy
Before you give your speech, look at what letter of the alphabet your country starts with.
If your country starts with an A or B, you might be able to give a speech introducing the topic as a whole. However, if you are Turkmenistan, it is very likely that your clash has been touched on, as have some of the policies you might want to state. Remember, saying it first does not mean saying it best. As Turkmenistan, much of what you would say will already be said, even if in a less clear or focused way. For this reason, write your speech with the end of the list in mind. Avoid spending time introducing concepts and make sure that as much of your speech as possible is unique to you, and detailed enough to get you the credit for presenting the idea best, even if not first. (More on strategies to adapt your speech to the discussion in the committee are in the next section of this article.)
Intelligent Use of Soundbites
Whether you are 1 out of 15, or one out of 200, your fellow delegates actually listening to your speech is essential in getting your ideas out there. Your first and last sentences should aim to be attention grabbers, but not so much so that the rest of your speech won’t be taken seriously. After you have their attention, try and get to your CIA as quickly and clearly as possible. Starting strong is more important than ending strong, but both are important if you want future listeners. Make it worth their while.
Opening: Do you hate mosquitoes? Honorable Chair, distinguished delegates, the delegate of Namibia hate mosquitoes, and that’s when they bite me without a fatal virus! The Zika virus must be stopped…
Ending: … those mosquitoes may bite us today, but now it’s time for the World Health Organization to bite back!
Echo and Name Drop Strategically
Unless you are the first to speak, you will be able to use the names, and words of delegates who came before you in your speech.
Saying other delegates’ names in your speech, whether allies or members of other blocks, will usually have them perk up and listen to what you are saying, because you used their name. Echoing also makes other delegates feel that you speak for a block and not just yourself. Often, echoing is reciprocal. If you use other countries’ names, they will use yours.
You can also respond to other delegates’ Calls to Action in your speech. This can be to support, refute or connect your ideas to theirs. Just make sure their ideas aren’t hugely popular. This will make you more relevant in the debate.
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Topics “Without a Clash”
Not all topics have a clear clash to start with. Some topics can be very principled. In those, the majority of the debate is spent setting the clash and, once decided, the Call to Action falls into place. On the other hand, some topics are off clash and result in battles of Calls to Action to decide which policy to choose from (Example: Helping flood victims). In those cases, mini clashes need to be created to kickstart the debate. However, it will still usually come down to measuring the effectiveness of policies against each other, rather than deciding if to be for or against a course of action.
Clash Heavy Topics
Requiring an international military presence remain in Syria
Phasing out the mining and use of coal for energy
Minimizing conflict in the South China Sea
Off Clash Topics / Call to Action Heavy Topics
Tackling and treating STIs and HIV/AIDS
Access to clean water
Combatting honor killings
Repair and resettlement after an earthquake
In the Clash heavy topics, countries can be on either side of the clash. Calls to Action heavy topics are also called Battles of Calls to Action. They are situations where everyone agrees on the macro clash (no one will say they support the idea that honor killings are good because the world is overpopulated) and the debate will focus on how best to solve the problem / which policies are the most important and central.
(To learn about other ways to interpret MUN topics, check out the “Identifying Types of MUN Topics” in the second part of this article).
Macro Clash and Micro Clash
When the study guides give us a clash that has two clear sides, for example, giving illegal migrants from a warzone refugee status, all countries should have an opinion on the larger issue. An issue which starts the committee off by dividing the delegates into two groups is called a Macro Clash. It is the initial clash which requires a yes or no opinion from almost every country. The “Clash heavy topics” in the section above are all topics with a Macro Clash.
Identifying a Macro Clash
- It is obvious in the study guides
- Most countries will have an opinion
- There is only one of them per topic
- Everything else you do or think is a direct result of your position on the Macro Clash
Just because a topic has a Macro clash, it does not mean that both sides will be of equal size. If the topic is around child marriage, for example, it is likely that the majority of the countries would be against. The same applies for topics discussing the proliferation of nuclear weapons. This means that once the Macro Clash is set (and this can become clear by the middle of opening statements), the discussion moves from getting a majority on the Macro Clash to setting new clashes within what has become the new topic of discussion. This new clash, within the side of the Macro Clash that is chosen, is called a Micro Clash. It is a Clash within a Clash and is the new point of contention, once the majority reaches a consensus on the previous clash.
Identifying a Micro Clash
- It is an important question that will need to be answered on one side of the Macro Clash
- Most countries on that side of the Clash will have a particular opinion
- This discussion can become central, once the Macro Clash has a majority to one side
The CIA Method for MUN speech writing developed by Daniel Gindis to help delegates around the globe make amazing MUN speeches no matter how long you have been doing MUN.
A Macro Clash can have many Micro Clashes within it. Furthermore, a Micro Clash can become the new Macro Clash, if enough of the committee agree on the next level of debate. The following example will show how this may occur.
Committee: United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)
Topic: Child Marriage
By the end of opening statements, 85% of the 60 delegates are strongly against child marriage. Allowing child marriage to continue undisturbed is no longer on the table. The remaining 15% can try to get some form of moral high ground, but it is clear that no resolution can pass with the pro child marriage countries continuing as they have so far.
However, even though they have a clear majority, the 85% could now go into the following Micro Clashes:
- Should the UN take collective action, or is child marriage an issue which countries should respond to individually?
- Should nations who condone child marriage be given warnings first?
- If married children emigrate, to a country where the practice is illegal, should they retroactively be annulled?
All of these Micro Clashes are yes or no questions, which could easily split the 85% majority into two groups of equal size. If that happens, neither of them will have a majority.
The discussion continues and a 75% majority is in favor of discussing the first Micro Clash. This now transforms the question “Should the UN take collective action, or is child marriage an issue which countries should respond to individually?” into the new Macro Clash.
The debate continues and a clear majority say that they believe the United Nations, as a whole, should take action. Now that the committee have agreed that the UN should be the one to take action, this clash too has been moved beyond and new Micro Clashes may arise. These could be:
- Should countries who have reduced the number, but still legally allow it, be punished as harshly?
- What should the punishment be? Should economic sanctions be used?
And so the debate continues.
As seen in the example above, the debate will continue to move from Micro Clash to Micro Clash until the committee decides, intentionally or otherwise, which clashes they want to discuss. This usually happens when one side no longer has a clear majority and realize they need to start working to retain what they have. Some beginner committees will have the entire room agree the entire time. This usually upsets chairs, who will have chosen the topic with some debate in mind, and is often not representative of reality. If an entire room agrees, it usually means some of the countries are acting off policy, which as discussed earlier in this article, is not representative of the people within that country.
Start From The Relevant Clash
When you are confident that the majority of the room will go in a certain direction, start your speech about where the topic is going to be headed, instead of echoing the majority opinion.
Sometimes, the majority going overwhelmingly to one side of the Clash may sometimes come as a surprise. However, for many topics (like the examples above) it is fairly obvious that the entire committee will agree on the Macro Clash and quickly go to one of the Micro Clashes. As the Macro Clash will quickly become off clash (because no one will condone honor killings) your research and your speech itself speech should be already aimed at winning the Micro Clash; particularly the micro clash you anticipate to be where the debate actually starts. Don’t talk about why child marriage is immoral or wrong; even if your country starts with the letter A, do not give a speech that will be repeated by many others in the room. Go straight to the Micro Clash that you want to set as the main focus; by the time the rest of the committee gets there, you will be ahead of the curve and could be giving follow-up speeches on the Micro Clash before most delegates give their first. Sometimes, this early start on a discussion you know will happen, can be the difference in leading the debate in the direction that will pass your draft resolution with a clear majority.
CIA Structure Is Not Concrete
The order of CIA is not set/fixed. You can start with the C, I or the A. You can switch the order if you believe it will make a stronger impact, will sound better or for many other reasons.
If you’re starting out, it is recommended that you try to use the C, I and A in their intended order. A clear clash lets everyone know how to categorize the rest of your speech. After that, the rest should fall into place. If you are unsure how to start a MUN speech, always start with the clash. However, if some other order works better, remember that there is no single right way to do
Follow Up Speech Strategies
Before you even start the first word of your opening speech, please keep in mind that you will need to follow up on your main point. Many, many times over. The following strategies will help you prepare for the speeches following up on your opening speech, to keep everything consistent and continue to be hard-hitting throughout the MUN.
Repeat Your Main Points. Always.
Repetition is key in MUN speeches. While CIA is the core of your MUN opening speech, one excellent speech is not enough. Furthermore, even if you give the best MUN speech in the history of MUN speeches after you are done, someone else will speak and eventually, your brilliant oration will be old news. You must keep the high quality of your speeches consistent throughout.
It is important that each following speech repeats the core ideas of your case and links back to your original clashes and policies. This must continue over the span of the simulation. The focus of the debate can change, and you might need to change the clash or even your practical policy. However, your core interest must remain consistent, and that needs to continue to shine through.
You can use the occasional speech to reframe/clean up the debate (“To recap, this is what we have heard so far…”) or refute the other side (“They said X, however, this is clearly incorrect and here’s why..”). However, even these should come back to your core case and show “Why (my) Call to Action is the best way to solve issue X!”.
Continue to Echo and Name Drop
Just because you got their attention the first time does not mean that you will have it the next time without work. You should get used to mentioning 1-3 allies and 2-3 opponents in each speech. You should try and quote another delegate at least once in every other speech.
When you say their name they will listen. Do this well and your allies will mention you in their speeches. Your opposing blocks may mention you as well. Being mentioned by other countries in their speeches will not only make your country name more known but also make it more likely for your ideas to stay on the table.
Adapting your Speech for Success
After the opening speeches are given, we can sometimes find ourselves ‘less unique’ than we expected. Below is a list of strategies to keep your policy on the table, while still being unique to you and your country.
Details Can Make a Call to Action Yours
Sometimes, we have a country with a letter from the end of the alphabet and when the room finally reaches our speech, our clash and/or Call to Action has already been said, potentially multiple times. Chairs write Model UN study guides with some sort of discussion in mind, meaning they expect that some delegates will come up with similar ideas. Remember, other delegates saying your Clash or Call to Action before you do, DOES NOT MAKE IT THEIRS. It could be a one-off speech, or they might not have been aware they even said it. So many excellent ideas are lost because a delegate planned for just one speech or they simply did not realize what a great idea they have.
If someone else states your Call to Action, whether in a one-liner or as the focus of an entire speech, YOU SAY IT BETTER! Drill your points down in detail and give a more in-depth explanation of why it’s going to work. Show everyone in the room that it is your explanation which makes it a revolutionary policy. Go into the speech treating the idea as your own. The previous speaker was simply headlining it for you.
Turkey: We need to build desalination plants to help Kuwait increase water supply.
Moldova: We agree that desalination is the best course of action. However, for this to work, we need to specifically build Vapor Compression Distillation plants; these only require electricity to operate and Kuwait is energy rich.
You Can Drill Down For Any Policy
We don’t always choose the winning policy. Sometimes, no matter how hard we try, a different policy ends up more central to the Clash than the one we planned for or predicted. In such a case, it could be strategic to drop your policy and use your speech to build on the more central idea, using the same method of describing a policy in more depth. It might not make you the main sponsor of the idea, but your place as a constructive partner could get you a central position in the coalition. Sometimes, compromise is better than having no input at all in the final resolution.
Flexibility is key in MUN and most chairs will give the credit to the delegate who was the main champion of the idea, not the person who said it first. For this reason, you can be the main proponent of the idea, and a major contributor, even if you didn’t come up with the original Call to Action. The key is reading the room and making sure the policy works with your country’s interest.
Strategically Choose When Policies Can or Can’t Coexist
A resolution is not limited to one Call to Action. Most resolutions will have a few different practical solutions in one document. Sometimes, they are complementary, while other times they are disconnected and simply co-exist on the resolution. If you are an experienced delegate, you should already be practiced at adopting your policies to the room you are in. You should also know when you see a block, or delegate, you do not want on your side; you need to make sure to have a policy that clashes with something in their speech or resolution.
In the end, the better solution PLUS the better coalition will win out. What is certain is that no solution, or a bad one, won’t stick. As we stated before, the work doesn’t stop when you find a good Call to Action, you need to be ready to defend it. You will defend it in your speeches, get it echoed by your coalition allies and use all the MUN tools at your disposal to get it on that final draft of the resolution.
In a Battle of Calls to Action – Yours Comes First
Sometimes you reach that point in a battle of Calls to Action where the policies are being measured against each other. In those cases, a way to bring yours to the top is to say that theirs is a good idea, but it can only come after yours is implemented.
We agree with Malta that we should build schools for the children in the refugee camp. However, without a regular supply of food aid, they will not be able to truly benefit from the classes.
Delivery Tips – Putting the Public in “Public Speech”
While some are more relevant to beginners, all of these tips are important in getting your speech heard, understood and agreed with by the rest of your MUN committee.
Practice Your Opening Speech Out Loud
Specifically for your opening statement. Speak it out, see what flows and naturally rolls off your tongue. While later speeches are no less important, this is the your first impression and you want to do it right!
WRITE YOUR SPEECH DOWN
When we speak off the cuff, we naturally leave out specific names, dates and numbers. The same happens when we speak from memory. To convey a general idea is natural, but it’s the last thing we want to do in Model UN. Our goal in our speeches is to establish ourselves as knowledgeable, competent and worth working with. The desire to collaborate from other delegates will not come from generalizations and vague descriptions.
To ensure you do not forget any important facts, or the sentences you so carefully crafted, you should do the following:
- Have your entire speech, or selected bullet points in front of you, printed on paper.
- Use a large enough font to read from a distance, so you do not disengage the audience trying to read small text.
- You can also bold/italicize words that you want to emphasize. There are other markings you can use to modify speed, volume, gestures and more.
Particularly when in a large room, it is much better to read straight from the paper. One should always prefer to be clearly heard and understood, than to miss words, facts and fail to deliver your point.
Practice with a Stopwatch
Ideally, you want to finish your 60-second speech at 0:58:5 seconds. You do not want your chair to cut you off. Practice your speech to make sure if it meets the time. Don’t be afraid to remove words and rephrase. Keep working on it until it does.
Slow and Clear Beats Fast and Crammed
Your goal is to be understood by everyone in the room. It is better to take out words and speak slowly, than to rush and get everything in. You will not properly hear or remember other rushed delegates, so don’t be part of that club.
(Again, Delivery Cues can help your speech and they’re right here!)
Bring the Right Amount of Information
Make sure the number of facts in your speech is digestible. It is the arguments you use which will persuade, not the long list of names and numbers that no one else found on the internet. Avoid information overload; it is best to use 2-5 facts in a one-minute speech, to be decided based on the content. Information can go a long way, but it needs to come as support, not as the main substance.
Put Your Most Important Points at the Beginning
Do not try to end with a strong punchline that will magically bring it all together. Most delegates will likely lose attention by that point. You want to introduce your Clash the second your opening soundbite ends. Even better, your Clash may be part of the opening sound byte.
Canada believes the only way to stop domestic violence is to throw anyone who is reported to be violent into a holding cell for 72 hours immediately after the call!
As seen here, Canada (1) set the clash, (2) showed what side they were on and (3) eluded to their Call to Action all in one sentence. Now, no matter what they say next, everyone knows where they stand. The other delegates can listen as you develop your plan / bring examples, etc. but even if they stop listening at that very moment, they know where Canada stands in the room.
Choose Effectiveness Over Emotional Attachment
We sometimes write lines in our first draft that we can’t seem to let go of. It is even harder when we write a speech by hand. We might want to keep this line because we researched for many hours to find that particular fact, or for some strange reason, the line sounds too good to us to pass up. Our goal is to be understood by others and get the desired outcome, everything we do is geared towards that goal. For those who find it especially hard, know that the ability to let go of lines will come with time and practice.
While CIA is very important, as a rule of thumb, it is ALWAYS better to give an imperfect speech than to say nothing. Speaking regularly and frequently raising your placard shows the chairs and other delegates that you are someone active, serious about the issues at hand and worth taking into consideration.
Some things to do when you are not sure what to say:
- Paraphrase one of your previous speeches.
- Write down a line from another delegate’s speech. In your speech, direct quote them and disagree.
- Summarize the past few speeches and say that you agree or disagree and why.
- Mention the names of countries in a block with their main points. If it’s your block, you can agree. If it’s another block, do the opposite.
Confidence, name dropping and rhetorical ability will grow with time, but being perceived as active is just as important. The delegates taken most seriously are those who are active and have impressive content and strategy. The one certainty is that imperfect action will always be better than smart and silent.
For more tips about delivery and public speaking, check out our guide on Public Speaking for MUN.
Use a Fact Sheet for Follow Up Speeches
You will not have space in your opening CIA speech for everything important that you find during your research. For this reason, it is good to keep a second document to put all the important facts and figures on, which could not appear in the opening speech. Keep this Quick Reference Fact Sheet with you during committee session. If you did a good job with your research to predict the direction of the debate, your fact sheet will likely be useful in a follow-up speech, or to answer a Point of Information. Copying over these numbers, names and dates while researching will take little effort at the time, yet having them for reference later can be anything from helpful, to life-saving. Also if it is a multi-day conference, doing some research on your main opponents’ policies and countries can be useful
A MUN speech does not exist in a vacuum from everything else that happens in the room. It is part of a larger strategy looking to influence the policy outcome however it can. The right Clashes, Information and Calls to Action will not only guide your opening speech, but also the clauses you write, the allies you work with and the compromises you are willing to make. Being off clash can result in time and opportunity wasted and other blocks gaining ground on the floor. We should not expect to be perfect, it is practice and experience that brings about greater speeches. So, on the bright side, you can expect your MUN speeches to improve as you gain MUN experience.
Whether a beginner, intermediate or veteran, the power of a good speech is universal at all MUN conferences. To be able to set the Clash, strategically and constantly use relevant Information and get your Call to Action a central spot on the resolution, is what will distinguish the top delegates from the rest.
In a Nutshell
When writing a MUN opening speech / GSL speech, or any later speech, make sure you have your CIA threaded throughout your speeches and guiding them.
For the opening speech, clearly, state which clash you’re talking about and on what side of it you’re on. Bring information/facts and research which strengthens your speech and position.
Present / connect them to an actionable, practical solution that you want to implement.
As you continue throughout the committee session, repeat your main ideas in your follow up speeches. Connect your ideas to others when you can, and connect them to others in the room.