Today we are covering another thing you can do before you start debating: Writing an opening statement.
Now, not everybody is the type to write down all of their speeches before they give them, some may just take notes, others wing it completly, but that´s just personal preference.
Often, just after the agenda is set and the first topic is about to be discussed, the chairs will ask for opening statements. These are (usually) 30 to 60 second long speeched each delegate gives to summarize their country´s position. In that aspect, they are pretty similar to a position paper, but there are some things to keep in mind when preparing them.
I am the first to admit that sometimes I just give opening statements impromptu because I just couldn´t be bothered to write a few lines in advance. That is a bad idea. The course of the debate is fluid and changing depending on what your co-delegates say. A speech you are writing now might be complete beside the topic in five minutes, when you get to hold it. Opening statemnts are the opportunity to give prepared remarks without the interferience of other delegates. Use this opportunity to establish yourself as a key figure in the room from the start.
What belongs in an opening statement and what doesn´t?
You, as the perfectly prepared delegate that you are have of course read all of your co-delegate´s position papers in advance, if you´re really good even printed them out, marked them, and sorted them by number of typos before the debate even starts. But others may not have so. For most delegates, your opening speech is the first thing they will hear about your country. They want to know to what bloc you belong, what experinece your country has with the topic at hand and what solutions you offer. These things all belong in your speech.
Start by outlining your country´s connection to the topic. Maybe throw in a statistic in there but keep it short, this is the part that is only important in context. Then, isolate a sub-topic or specific problem, if the agenda allows. No country is equally interetsted in all aspects of every topic, so focus on one or at most two that are important to you. Next, state why these specific suptopics are important to the problem as a whole. This is your selling pitch for why others should care about the thing you care about. A resolution will never adress all the possible subtopics; by steering the debate into subtopics you favour and have prepared for, you are already on route to be an important player in the debate. After selling your issue to the room; sell them your ideas. Give one or two ways to adress the issue, but don´t get los in detail; you have a few precious seconds and there are many speeches to be held in the next hours; so be concise and memorable.
If you´ve read the first feature about position papers, you´ll realize that they´re quite simlar. It is true that you can copy the gist of your position paper for your opening statement, but remember that a different medium has different demands. Don´t copy full sentences. Say the words out write out loud as you write them, make sure they sound good. Remember, this is a marketing pitch. Your opening statement will very much give a first and lasting impression of your role in the room. Be straightforward and decisive, but not rude or overly commanding. Think of the role your country plays: The United States might need to present themselves a little stronger than other countries, or they risk loosing influence to other players. Lastly, try to keep the flowery language to a minimum. Don´t go on an on about the spirit of international cooperation and how grateful you are to work toghter and find common ground and so on. A surprising number of people do this and with each it gets more boring. These kinds of phrases do nothing but waste your first chance to influence the room, a chance others will gladly take.
For now, to keep you trained and your MUN skills sharp, why not write an opening statement using the guidelines we just presented to you? Just write a few lines and if you want feedback don´t be shy to send it to us!
Until the next time!