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Talk the Talk: What You Say Matters Too

Written by Brian Johnson

July 12, 2019

Talk the Talk: What You Say Matters Too

Ten seconds ago, you sat down from one of your most eloquent speeches. Managing to lead the primary speakers list, you were planted into an excellent position to impact committee. After grabbing your audience with a rhetorical question, you masterfully wrapped the room in your words; using bold language and complex vocabulary to both engage and impress. Claim after claim left your mouth, before you hit them with that sweet, sweet call to action. You killed it.

But instead of being flooded with note after note to meet in the upper-left corner during the first unmoderated caucus, your walk down the center aisle to your seat met with awkward glances. Even by the time you had reached the second row, delegates had turned their heads away uninterested to focus on their own work. What happened?

You forgot the content. Good speeches are a lot like a ham sandwich. You can use two soft pieces of rye and apply the perfect layer of mayonnaise; but it’s nothing without the swiss. Heck, it’s nothing without the ham. Common theory often says that it’s not what you say, it’s how you say it; but people construe that to ignore the what entirely. That if you use enough fluffy language and big words, you’ll grip them long enough to rein control of the bloc. The truth is: the content of your speech is just as important as the delivery.


 It’s important that you remember to speak comprehensively, prepare meaningful dialogue, and avoid baselessly confrontational wording in your speeches.



Nailing the Specifics

The first rule is to remember that your speech is only as good as what you say. If you are addressing how important it is to improve infrastructure in rural areas for your UNICEF committee, quote the absence of modern healthcare institutions in these regions. If as Algeria you want to introduce the option of the United Nations subsidizing waste clean-up NGOs in the UNEP, provide how essential these organizations are to revitalizing ecosystems and environments. Remember the “Three S’s”– Statistics, sources, and statements– they are your closest friends when it comes to convincing people to buy in to your speech!


Go With the Flow

Topicality is one of the single most ignored elements of a good Model United Nations speech. There are times when it is perfectly appropriate to jar committee off course and begin discussion of new material. However, if you do not believe your content is meaningful enough to invigorate others to discuss it, there is no point in talking. Although All-American Model UN encourages you to talk as much as possible, it will only hurt your reputation with the chair and your peers to randomly bring up nuclear energy when everyone else is discussing solar. 


Watch Yourself

Regulation surrounding the right of reply is restrictive, and oftentimes strategies in fact dissuade its use as an oft-misunderstood, novice tactic. However, you should never encourage your peers to use it either. It is perfectly acceptable to address how specific countries are accelerating specific issues. As long as you are not trying to buddy-buddy with the PRC, mentioning their extensive human rights violations in a UNCR committee can be strategic to securing the praise of other countries. It also shows the chair that you have done your research and do not shy from confrontation. That said, such statements should focus on content, not ad hominem and exaggeration. Furthermore, if you do not have the numbers, you should not bother bringing it up. Lastly, making enemies is almost inevitable; but you should avoid doing so early on.



There is no doubt that presentation is an integral part of Model UN. Public speaking is one of the primary skills which the activity instills. Students should be aware that how they say something is not only important to make positive relationships, but to instill proper personal values.

At the same time, recognize that empty rhetoric and circular arguments are some of the worst mistakes that a delegate can make. Take note of your speaking skill, but never forget to make your speeches comprehensive, meaningful, and pleasant for everyone.

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