“According to most studies, people's number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. [...]This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you're better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”
-- Jerry Seinfeld
Let's not get ahead of ourselves...
What is public speaking?
Well, one way one way to define it is: "The art of effective oral communication with an audience." (Merriam Webster); it's all about how well you can deliver your message, the keyword here being "effective."
The quality of your public speaking skills is not measured by the content of your speech alone, but by how receptive the audience is to your message and how much they understand - this will decide how likely an audience will remember you as a speaker.
Anyone will tell you that the key to succeeding in anything is preparation - public speaking is no exception.
So how do you prepare yourself to be a public speaker?
First thing's first: respect your audience. When people are listening to you, they are willingly sacrificing their time and effort to hear what you have to say. Do not include anything in your speech that won't add anything to the message you're trying to convey, it is disrespectful to the audience because you're wasting their time, and taking the attention they're willingly giving you, for granted.Respecting your audience also includes taking the time to know your audience.
Who are your audience members? Diplomats? Peers at work? Your supervisor? What are they coming to listen to you for? A request? A proposal? What's their age group? These are the kind of questions you need to answer to know your audience. This will decide how you're going to address them, and the language you'll use to convey your message.
The second most important thing is to believe in your message. Be passionate; the amount of passion you put in your work, will be the same amount of passion the audience puts in to listen to you.
For the most part, MUNers can be assigned delegations they're not particularly fond of. But you need to keep in mind that these countries have these policies because they think that this is what will keep their country strong and safe, so at least, believe in the intention of protecting the entity you're representing, and believing it's for the good of your people.
The third step towards being a public speaker is to research --all public speakers need to. Your passion is what you display to the audience in order to get them engaged, but if you show little to no knowledge on what you're trying to say, it shows lack of credibility and the audience will disregard you as someone not worth listening to. It's not enough to say you believe in your message, you also need to show and explain why.
As a result, the fourth step to becoming a public speaker is planning out your overall performance. This is where foreign policy, and research on the topic, comes into play for MUNers; what views does your country have regarding this topic? What is the rhetoric it uses when it makes statements on this topic? What is the tone that your country's representatives use when addressing this topic? Aggressive? Accusative? Enthusiastic?
If you're preparing a speech, this is where you need to plan ahead how you're going to look like, where to raise and lower your voice, where to sound serious, and where to sound cheeky, when to give eye contact to different corners of the room - all of this needs to be planned ahead.
There are many tools to public speaking; however, the most powerful tool of all is silence.
Silence provokes your audience into processing what you're saying. On average, I take it as a rule to stop talking, approximately, every 5 to 7 words if I'm facing a large audience to ensure that all of my audience members have an average idea of what I'm talking about.
It's also important to remember that the larger your audience is, the smaller the words in your speech need to be; for one thing, it'll ensure that all audience members are following you, and by smaller words, I mean four syllables and less. This will also make it easier for you to pronounce everything clearly so that you can guarantee you're being heard.
Don't be afraid to reach out to your audience, ask rhetorical questions, give examples by putting them in situations, or by sharing an experience. If you remember your audience in your speech, your audience will remember you.
This brings us to the fifth and final step: the actual delivery of your performance. This is where you focus more on your body rather than your vocal movement and the content of your speech, which you already prepared.
It's very important to remove all physical barriers between yourself and the audience as much as possible, when you're speaking (no, this doesn't include clothes). But if you have to speak from a podium, then try to keep your head up high, your voice loud and clear and your hands and arms as far from your torso area as possible. The better the audience sees you, the more attentive they'll be. It is preferable that public speakers move around, but for MUNers they have to stay where they are. In this case, you need to remember that your hand and arm movements are just as important in your speech as anything else; they are also part of your speech. Keep your hand and arm movements within a 10cm radius (approximately) from yourself, that should be enough moving space for you to be expressive without looking like a crazy person set on fire.
To conclude, if you are able to make yourself heard, and remembered, in a way that affects many people, then you're on your way to making history.