Public Speaking, Diplomacy & Negotiation
Public speaking is one of the most important skills a Model UN delegate will develop. Students will need it to convey member states’ positions, help build consensus and formulate resolutions. Usually, the length of time a delegate is allowed to speak is set by the conference organizers. Delegates can make a motion to increase or decrease the time allotted to each speaker. If another delegate seconds the motion, then the committee will vote on changing the speaker’s time.
Students will have numerous opportunities to speak in committee during a Model UN simulation. Students are always encouraged to speak, but many students find the prospect of speaking in front of a large committee terrifying. Practicing speaking in front of the class before arriving at the conference will help students overcome their fears and be better prepared to get the most out of the conference, or any experience.
During formal debate, the Chair will maintain a speakers list of delegates who would like to make formal speeches. Encourage students to get their name on the speakers list early, even if they choose not to speak when their turn comes up. It is better that they have a chance to address the committee than to decide later that they want to give it a try and not have the opportunity. During caucuses they will have the opportunity to speak informally to delegates in the committee, but it is still important to keep the principles of effective public speaking in mind.
Researching as much as possible about the country and the issue the committee will be debating is one of the easiest ways to help delegates prepare to speak in front of the body. The more they are confident of their ideas and opinions, the more they will be confident of their speech-making abilities. They should be comfortable explaining their countries’ positions and have ideas on what should be included in the committee’s resolution. By coming to the conference prepared, they will be eager to speak in committee and project confidence.
Here are some tips to aid delegates in making effective and persuasive speeches:
Prepare: Decide how you feel most comfortable delivering your speech. You may choose to use your position paper text as your opening speech or you may write out some key points. In time, you may feel comfortable speaking without any written notes at all. If you plan to use a word or phrase that is unfamiliar to you, make sure you learn its meaning and how to pronounce it properly.
Practice: Rehearsing your speech is the best way to perfect your public speaking skills. Try practicing in front of a teacher, a parent, or fellow Model UNers from your class or club. When you listen to a speech, provide constructive feedback rather than criticism. When someone critiques your speech, accept the feedback graciously and use it as a tool to strengthen your public speaking.
Consider your audience: Make your speech appropriate to the age and experience-level of the other delegates at the conference. Remember that the beginning of the speech should captivate your audience and make them to want to hear more.
Eliminate unnecessary “filler” words: Fillers are words and phrases such as "umm," "well," "sort of,” and “like". These words take away from the message you are trying to convey. Some additional fillers to avoid are “so,” "you know," "I think," "just," and "uh."
Use meaningful pauses: Leaving a moment of silence between sentences can be a powerful public speaking tool. Pausing after an important point or before answering a question will help to hold the audience’s attention. A pause can also give you time to formulate your next statement.
Breathe: Try to breathe from your diaphragm – the organ below your lungs that controls your respiration. You are breathing properly if you can see your abdomen rising and falling with each breath. Try to inhale and exhale completely.
Pace yourself: Don’t talk too fast or too slow. Remember that most speakers have a tendency to talk too quickly.
Choose a powerful posture: Be aware of your posture when you speak. Slouching, tilting your head and crossing your arms or legs will take away from your message. Stand up straight, relax your shoulders, plant your feet firmly and keep your knees unlocked to help you communicate confidence.
Project your presence: Speaking in a low to medium volume can help to project authority, but make sure that you are speaking loud enough to be easily heard. Focus on speaking with enthusiasm and energy.
Gesture: It is worthwhile to use your face, hands, arms and body to help you communicate as long as your motions do not distract the audience from your speech.
Connect with your audience: Glance at your notes rather than reading them so that you can make eye contact with the other delegates. It is often helpful to speak directly to individual members of the audience.
Get to the point: Speak concisely so that your audience does not lose your main arguments among less-important details. Try not to speak in circles. Instead, go straight to your most important point.
Be positive: Rather than criticizing another point of view, critique it in a constructive way. Always provide alternatives and be sure to back up your arguments.
Diplomacy & Negotiation
Negotiation is the practice of diplomacy, the careful balancing of ideas and opinions that is the purpose of collaborative international organizations. It is important for students to learn to take into account the policies and priorities of the country the are representing and to balance it with others interests not only for the purposes of Model UN, but also as a skill that will serve them in the future in professional or academic pursuits.
Learning different negotiation tactics is critical for delegates in any committee, who will negotiate everything from the wording used in a document to the actions laid out by resolutions. Delegates will develop strategies of who to speak to and what issues to speak about, while building support for their own position to reach a possible solution to the issue. A lack of negotiation to build consensus could mean that the committee is unable to resolve the issue at all.
Most of the diplomacy and negotiation of a Model UN conference happens during a caucus, when delegates have a chance to talk to each other one-on-one and form relationships that go beyond the speech and debate that takes place in front of the entire committee.
Caucusing, or informal debate, is an important part of the Model UN simulation because it provides an opportunity for delegates to collaborate, negotiate and formulate draft resolutions. During a Model UN conference, caucuses can be either moderated or unmoderated. When a committee holds a moderated caucus, the Chair calls on delegates one at a time and each speaker briefly addresses the committee. During an unmoderated caucus, the committee breaks for a temporary recess from formal proceedings so that delegates can work together in small groups.
To hold a caucus, a delegate must make a motion and the committee must pass the motion. In most cases, more than half of committee time is used for unmoderated caucusing. Many delegates feel this is the easiest way for them to collaborate and start to formulate draft resolutions.