Let’s talk about Opening Speeches. To start off, I’m not a fan. Or, to be more specific, I’m not a fan of spending hours upon hours drafting, redrafting, and rehearsing an opening speech that no one, including the dais, will remember after the first hour of committee.
I know that there’s a school of thought out there that believes in preparing opening speeches as if you’re a head of state addressing the General Assembly. But let’s face it, you’re one of up to 193 people in a hotel conference room or auditorium with no more than two minutes to address your committee and dais for the first time.
Everyone is trying to make a mark. Everyone is trying to lay out some framework for their ideas. Most people haven’t done any research so they try to sound diplomatic by appealing to others in the room to “share their ideas,” or “compromise to find a solution,” or “collaborate and come together,” without sharing any concrete proposals of their own.
Here’s my advice. For a 90 second to two-minute opening speech, spend 90% of the time outlining three parts of your solution. This requires you to do research and prepare a solution ahead of the start of committee. To start your speech, think of a creative hook to get people’s attention and then end your speech with a quick and pointed call-to-action, something like, “If you’re interested increasing transparency as a cornerstone to our solution, please send me a note and meet Uganda during the first unmod.”
- Step One: Hook. “If you were born TODAY in Port-au-Prince, Haiti, there’s a 5.9% chance you will die being born.”
- Step Two: Solution Set Overview. “Over the course of the weekend, the Bahamas urges the committee to (1) Establish a commonly agreed upon framework for encouraging and educating women to deliver their babies in professional health facilities, (2) Support the establishment of a new series of midwifery and nursing schools throughout Haiti, and (3) Promote doctor exchange programs and volunteering schemes to bring more medical professionals to Haiti.”
- Step Three: Call-to-Action. “If your country supports a Public Educational, Professional Education, and Professional Exchange program to address infant mortality in Haiti, please send the Bahamas a note with your details and meet in the back corner of the room near the water to better develop a draft resolution.”
There you have it. No endless drafting. No memorization. No prewriting. This is how a solutions-based approach to Model United Nations can powerfully impact the start of your next committee session.