How to write the Killer Speech

Speeches are of essential importance in Model UN. They are where you make your first impression and the only place to get an idea out to everyone at the same time. Everyone, from potential allies, to potential opposition, to the chairs, will hear your speech which is why it is so important to get it right. When we speak off the top of our head we not only forget facts and figures but more importantly sometimes miss the strategic objective of our speech. The following guide will teach both how to write the killer speech, and in the second part, how to deliver it.



The CIA method to speechwriting

The perfect Model United Nations speech must have Clash, Information and (call to) Action (CIA). These three elements make the speech maximally effective and missing any of them makes a speech weaker, less substantiated of forgettable. A strong CIA speech, combined with proper country ownership (See article on ‘Owning your country’), can have you noticed by others and setting policy from the beginning of your first speech.

Clash

The clash is where two opinions collide on one idea. This concept is important because two ideas that don’t clash can co-exist on a resolution. A lack of clash will result in a merger or a lack of merger which what will look like an ego fight.

Example:
Gambia: We should increase the amount of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika
Norway: We should increase the subsidy to develop medicines to counter Zika

In this example we can see that the ideas don’t actually disagree and while they could both speak about the benefits of their side, or the drawbacks of the other, there is no reason not to merge and have them as separate clauses on the same resolution.

Example:
Gambia: We should increase the amount of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika
Indonesia: We should decrease the amount 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 and, to be sound, the same resolution cannot have both.

Why is the Clash Important?

The clash is the point of contention between opposing sides. It is important to have a clashing idea or policy because that is what the delegates will discuss. The most important clauses are the ones which bridge to most significant divides. It is these clashes that are most interesting, most important and get the most airtime within the debate.

Choosing the Right Clash:
It is important to note that there are many possible clashes within each topic, and some will be more in a country’s favor than others.​

Example:
Gambia: We should increase the amount 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
Iceland: We should make abortion laws easier, to prevent the birth of fetuses found withthe virus

For a country like El Salvador, where abortions are always illegal, allowing the discussion to flow to abortion law is probably a bad idea because it will show El Salvador, and other anti abortion countries, in a negative light. Also, even in cases where there is a majority of anti abortion countries in the room, it is likely that abortion law is not the strongest clash there is. A strong clash is a clash that is relevant to more countries and makes a bigger and more relevant impact on the debate. For example, finishing clinical trials for 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 clash that is not only relevant to the debate as a whole but a clash which your country can claim relevance and, preferably (but inherently required always) shows your country in a positive light.

How to find the clash

Ask your statement in the form of a question. If one country says “yes” and the other “no” then you’ve found the clash 

Example:
Gambia: Should we increase the amount of doctors sent to Peru to treat Zika?
Norway: Should we increase the subsidy to develop medicines to counter Zika?
Mexico: Should we develop chemicals which kill mosquitoes?
Vietnam: Should we impose a travel ban on potential carriers from countries with Zika?
Iceland: Should we make abortion laws easier, to prevent the birth of fetuses found with the virus?

All of these clashes are possible contention points, and progress on any of them will be a strong part of any potential resolution. Off clash speeches, and ideas, will not get engagement or echoing (when countries repeat each other). Setting the right clash will give the room a way to align themselves and bring about excellent Model UN.

If no one set the clash, it will happen anyway, because the nature of Model UN is to discuss issues, but it can easily go in a direction no one wants, or at least some countries aren’t interested in. For this reason, each delegate should have present a clear clash in their speech, as well as which side of the clash they are on.

Example:

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 airports.The speech can continue but after 12 seconds we know exactly what Vietnam wants to focus on and which side of the clash they are on. Unless someone else directly disagrees with this idea, is can reach the resolution undisturbed. However, it is likely to get more attention and focus then increasing funding to develop a cure and definitely more than speeches about how Zika is a terrible virus and a danger to all.

Off Clash Statements
While There are also many statements and directions of discussion which are off clash.

Something is off clash when everyone agree on it and speaking off clash can waste entire speeches and leave the delegates in the room taking nothing of content from your speech.

Example:
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, but entire speeches can be given about the obvious, sometimes with much emotion and soundbyte, but in the end could be said by any other country in the room.

Example:
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 clash.

Information

“We are drowning in information but starved for knowledge.” - John Naisbitt

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Information is of key importance to a speech because it shows that your claim are based on facts, and not generalizations which are made up.It also makes you look smarter and gives that impression that you have more research up your sleeve, if done correctly.However, for information to be useful in your speech it needs to be relevant and specifically support the point you are trying to make. 

Remember:

Information = Relevant Information

The same statement given with proper use of information makes 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 July 2016 had positive results and further investment could give us the best medicine yet to combat Zika.

With tangible examples, opposing countries would need to find counter examples instead of simply saying “You’re wrong”. Also, if enough information is put into speeches over time, the underpinnings of a reality will be built giving your interpretation of the situation a much stronger case.

The information part of the speech doesn’t always need to be facts or examples. The I in CIA can be:

  • Facts
  • Examples
  • Statistics
  • Illustrations
  • Allegories

​Facts and examples should be the ones most used and each speech must contain at least one of these. However, occasional use of a verbal illustration can bring color to a situation and strongly strengthen a speech.

Example: 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.

Emotional stories and tear jerkers will rarely persuade delegates to join your coalition but good delivery can get attention, which is very important when everyone wants their speech to be listened to.

Rule of thumb to use ‘I’ and sound smart: Every speech should have at least one number. You opening speech should have three to five numbers, as well as unique names.

(call to) Action 

While understanding clash and being able to set it is essential, and using facts makes your case much stronger, the call to action is by far the most important part, and one of the features that is unique to Model UN over other speech related extracurriculars. In almost every other extracurricular, it is enough to convince others that one idea is better than the other. To contrast, in Model UN, the resolution is generally an executive order to bureaucrats to carry out actions in the physical world. For this reason, the call to action usually needs to be physical, tangible, empirically measurable and quantifiable - this is a bit obnoxious.

Call to Action = A practical solution

In Model UN, where we are dealing with real world problems, if you aren’t offering anything practical you offer nothing. Furthermore, without a Call to Action your speech can easily be lost and someone else will take the clash.On the other hand a good call to action can be passed in a resolution without a clear clash or information behind it.

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?

Our goal is to solve a problem / making the world a better place. Talk is cheap and only actions, measured in real world results, will be able to actually change anything.Change of the status quo can only comes from practical, physical action. Some actions clearly lead to certain results. It is these expected results that turn our idea into a reality

A good call to action explains the problem, the solution and what it’s going to do

Call to Action I: Comission 100 mile sweeping units to operate in the newly taken villiage 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: More transparent reflection of the actual will of the people

Outcome of policy: More transparent reflection of the actual will of the people

Rules of a call to action

A call to action must

  1. Solve the problem

  2. Fit your country's views

  3. Be simple / passable








1 - Solve the problem

After the policy is implemented the status quo should be changes 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.

Example: Austria is against 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 improve crop yield and will not be convinced. In such a case Austria should not be completely against Cloud Seeding, and should instead opt for a policy of testing to “make sure it’s safe”. This call to action could be for limited use in a small area for five years to assess environmental impact. In such a case, the use of the technology is much less and there are five years to overturn it in the future. With 30% of the room such a compromise could be reached and so, a practical policy is offered which can be quantified and voted on, but over that serves Finland's interest.

2 - Fit your country's views

Representing your country's interests the most important thing delegates forget, often in the name of compromise and consensus over actually past policy and national interest. When you present a call to action, it generally needs to be clear to the chair, and delegates, that your policy is something your country would sign off on.

Example: 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 are bans on the cultivation and sale of GMOs.Hungary can give tax breaks to farms who can reach minimal quota targets for organic crops to use for the same purpose.

3 - Fit your country's views

While called “Simple / passable” it is clearly not enough for a good policy. The call to action must be unique, specific and attributable to you. However, if the idea is too complex, or doesn’t have a majority, it should not be put to the floor. The full guideline should be:
A good Call to Action needs to be as unique and detailed as possible while being simple enough for the room to understand and able to get a majority.

How do I come up with a call to action

First, you need to quantify the problem. If you do not know what the problem is you cannot solve it. There can be a few problems within each topic, and many directions to take. Some can be more strategic for a country than others. However, in all cases, when you set the clash you need to have a direction for which to frame the problem, and often the entire discussion.

Examples:

General Topic
Global hunger
Combatting the Zika virus
Preventing domestic violence

Solvable Topic
Malnutrition of children in Uttar Pradesh
Mosquitoes who transfer Zika
Lack of safe houses for victims

No more than three problems should be chosen as focus points within a given topic, though you should generally focus on one. Memories are short and the more different ideas you give in a speech the less likely others are to follow and / or remember

Once you have chosen your problem/s and quantified them into something you can solve, you should take a few minutes to think on what common sense solutions you can come up with. Once you have written those down, you can continue with any of the following options.

  1. Original thinking
  2. Look at your country's part in this situation
  3. Look at what other countries have done in this situation
  4. Look at similar situations in your / other countries
  5. Look at completely different situations to try and find inspiration

Remember, there can be many solutions to the same problem!

Follow up speeches - Repetition is key

While CIA is the base of writing the killer speech, one excellent speech is not enough. It is important that each following speech, over the spen of the simulation, links back to your original ideas and conclusions. The information can change, and you can focus on different parts of the clash. You can also use speeches to refute the other side or clean up the discussion with something like “So, what we have heard up until this point”.

Ideally, different speeches should reach the same conclusion to let everyone know “and that’s why (my) call to action is the best way to solve problem X”.

Clash vs Call to Action

Not all topics have the same emphasis on establishing a clash or a call to action. Some topics can be very principled, where setting the clash is more of the debate and afterward the call to action falls into place. On the other hand, some topics are off clash and it is simply a battle of calls to action to decide which policy to choose. In those cases, mini clashes need to be created but in those cases it is usually measuring policies against each other, rather than deciding if to be for or against a course of action.

Clash heavy topics

The status of Iran's nuclear project
Combating climate change by limiting use of coal
Establishing joint regime in the South China Sea

Battles of call to action

Tackling and treating STIs and HIV/AIDS
Combatting honor killings
Resetting a population after an earthquake

In the former category, countries can be on either side of the clash. In the later one, everyone agrees on the macro clash (no one will say they support honor killings because the world is overpopulated) and the debate is how best to solve the problem and which policy solutions are more important or central.

Playing with others

A resolution is not limited to one call to action. Most resolutions will have a few, sometimes complementary, different practical solutions in one document. Be open to merge ideas and form a larger block.

Sometimes one clause dealing with one part of the problem is enough and endless compromise weakens the resolution. Sometimes some combinations of policies do not make sense / contradict and should not be on the same resolution.

Example:
6. Authorizes to triple the amount of peacekeepers in Liberia
And further down in the resolution
13. Calls upon the Security Council to remove all peacekeepers and personnel from Liberia
These things happen. Often.

he strongest resolutions would have 51% of the countries voting in favor, the weakest ones have 100% voting on them. A good resolution will often not have every country on it because with some topics progress for one country can mean setback for another. There is no obligation to be on every resolution and a lot of credit to be had when a country is not willing to give up its principles when the majority of the room work against its interest.

Don’t be afraid to take some time to think before before the rush towards writing a resolution. We improve each time and the balance for speech writing, delivery, and Model UN in general can be found with patience, diligence, practice and the willingness to learn.

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.

The work doesn’t stop when you find a good call to action, prepare to defend it. Defend it in your speeches and echo with your coalition members to defend the idea in other ways.

Adapting your speech for success

Before you give your speech look at what letter of the alphabet you have. 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 likely that your clash has been touched on, as have some of the ideas you wanted to say. 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, make sure that as much of your speech as you can should be unique to you, and detailed enough to get the credit for saying the idea best.

Details can make a call to action yours - Sometimes we have a country with a letter from the end of the alphabet and when they reach our speech our clash or call to action has been said. Model UN debates are generally planned to have some sort of discussion, which means that it is likely that delegates will come up with similar ideas. For this reason, remember that when someone else said your clash or call to action THAT DOES NOT MAKE IT THEIRS. It could be a one off speech or they might not have been aware they said it. So many excellent ideas are lost because of one off speeches where delegates do not realize what they have. If someone else said your call to action in a one liner you SAY IT BETTER. Drill down, give it more detail and treat it as your own that the previous speaking simple headlined for you.

Example:
Turkey: We need to build desalination plants to help Kuwait increase water supply.
Moldova: We should specifically build Vapor Compression Distillation plants, as it only requires electricity to operate and Kuwait is energy rich.

The same method of doing it better can also be done if you see a call to action that you feel is more central / relevant to the debate than the one you planned for or predicted. In such a case, it may be strategic to drop yours and develop on the better idea you heard. In such cases the same technique of giving more depth and saying it better is to be used.

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.

Tips for battle of calls to action

Mine comes first - When you reach the point where calls to action are being measured against each other, a way to try and beat out someone else's call to action is to say that theirs is a good idea but it can only come after yours is implemented.

Example:
We should build schools for the children in the refugee camp but we cannot do that unless they have regular supplied of food aid or they won’t be alive to be taught.

Delivery tips

While some of these are more relevant to beginners, all of these tips are important in getting your speech hear, understood and agreed with among the entire committee.

Practice your opening speech out loud - Specifically for your opening statement speak it, see what flows and rolls off your tongue. While later speeches are no less important, this is the first impression.

Open and close with a soundbyte - Whether you are 1 out of 15 or one out of 200 your fellow delegates hearing your speech is essential to getting your ideas out there. Your first and last sentence should aim to be attention grabbers, but not so much so that you won’t be taken seriously. After you have their attention, try and get to your CIA quickly and clearly as possible as we never know when attention will be lose again.

Example:
Opening: Do you hate mosquitoes? Honorable chair, distinguished delegates, I hate mosquitoes, and that’s when they bite me without a fatal virus! The Zika virus must be stopped...
Ending: … those mosquitoes bit us, and now it’s time for the World Health Organization to bite back!

Don’t rely on memory - We naturally leave out specific names, dates and numbers when we speak from memory. We generalize and that is that last thing we want to do in Model UN, where we are trying to establish ourselves as knowledgeable and authority figures.To not forget your 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.
You can also mark specific words to remind yourself how to deliver.
Especially in large room, it is better to read off the paper and be clearly head and understood than it is to miss words and not deliver your point.

Practice with a stopwatch - You want to finish your 60 second speech at 5.58.5. You do not want your chair to cut you off. Practice your speech to see if it meets the time and 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 our words and speak slowly than to rush and get everything in. You will not properly hear or remember other rushed speakers, don’t be one.

Avoid information overload - Don’t stuff your speech with too many facts and technical detail. Information is of critical importance.

Put your most important points at the beginning - Do not try to end with a strong punchline. Most people lose attention by that point. You want your clash set the second your penin soundbite ends or for the soundbyte to be the option of the clash.

Example: Canada believe the only way to stop domestic violence is to throw anyone who is reported to be violent into holding cell for 72 hours immediately after the call.

As seen here, Canada set the clash and showed what side they were on with the beginning of a call to action in one sentence. Now, no matter what they say, everyone knows where they stand as they develop their plan or bring examples.

Effectiveness over emotional attachment - We sometimes write lines that we don’t want to let go of. It can be because we researched many hours to find that fact or that line sounds so good to us. 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, the ability to let go of lines will come with time.

Always speak - While CIA is very important, as a rule of thumb it is better to give a non perfect speech rather than say nothing. It keeps you in noticed by the chairs and delegates as someone active and worth taking into consideration.Some things to say when you are not sure what to say are:

  1. Paraphrase one of your speeches
  2. Find a quote from another delegate, quote them and disagree
  3. Summarize the past few speeches and say that you agree, disagree and why

Confidence will grow with time but being seen as active is just as important. The delegates taken most seriously are those who are active and have impressive content and strategy but active is more impressive than smart and silent.

Echo others

Saying other delegates names in your speech, whether allies or opposition, will usually have them perk up and listen to what you are saying because you used their name. Echoing also makes others feel you speak for a block and not just yourself. Often, echoing is reciprocal and if you use other countries names they will use yours.

Make a fact sheet for follow up speeches

Not everything will fit into your opening CIA page. For this reason it is good to have a fact sheet with relevant information you feel could be useful in a follow up speech, or to answer a Point of Information. Writing this information down, while researching, takes little effort and having it for later is extremely useful.

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