Public speaking is a matter which comes in very handy during an MUN conference. Knowing how to make your opinion heared in a convincing way – preferably in 60 seconds or under – is key to winning the hearts and minds of your fellow delegates and to get the appreciation of your chairs. Did we mention that they have awards?
Speaking in public can seem scary at first.
Rule number one would therefore be to remain calm and composed at all times, or to at least look like it. A person who seems unsure, unprepared or trembling is less likely to catch the attention of other delegates. You should therefore look composed, or at least pretend to be on the outside.
Secondly, it always helps if your speech follows a certain structure. In an MUN your most likely opening sentence is “Thank you honourable chair”, followed by the point you’re trying to make. Do cut straight to the chase, since you’ll only have a strictly-defined number of seconds in which you’ll be speaking.
After the initial point (e.g. “Dear delegates, our government can’t possibly agree to this proposal”) you should try to demonstrate why exactly a certain idea is unacceptable to your delegation. Try to quote from previous experiences, mention domestic situations and remind others of why the course suggested is ideologically wrong or right. This sounds easy, but in practice you’d do well if you stick to some rules of thumb.
Content-wise it has been demonstrated that people like clearly structured speeches. Try therefore to structure your argument(s) straight after you’ve made your initial point. Your delegation can e.g. “support this idea ideologically, financially and diplomatically”, or it can “deplore this initiative since it disrespects national sovereignty”. Your argument(s) should be clearly distinguishable and brief, since you won’t be able to give a more elaborate explanation. Save the full explanation for an unmoderated caucus or for lobbying time outside of sessions.
While speaking, target your audience by looking at them rather than at your papers. Staring at one particular delegate (or chair) might be awkward, but directing your gaze at people generally makes them more susceptible of listening to you. It also helps you to become less reliant on your notes and to summarize your thoughts whilst speaking.
Also feel free to target specific other delegates, who can then react to your speech, thus giving your more airtime. Names-dropping can be of use, and might positively impress your chairs as well as your fellow delegates. Humour might be used, albeit diplomatically and sparsely: it would be a shame for your great policy speech to be overshadowed by an ill-aimed joke which didn’t play out all that well in the end.
Finally, experience comes with time. The more MUN-style speeches you’ve given the better you’ll be getting at them. It’s obvious that only time will give you the opportunity to excel in this type of presentations. And never forget: even the most experienced MUNers do find themselves in a tight spot from time to time!