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“How to wrap content”

By Lisha Kim

“Does everybody have a piece of paper to take notes? And why is that important when giving a speech?” This is how Dr. Melchior Glatthard – not only Attorney-at-law and Notary Public but also (TEDx-)Speaker, Coach, Audio-Speaker and multiple times winner of the European Championships in Public Speaking – started our Rhetoric Workshop yesterday evening. He gave us the precise answer to that question: A strong speech consists of content (therefore, take notes!) and speaking skills. “Welcome to the workshop: How to wrap your content!”

Speaking in public can be terrifying, we all know that. We also know that the advice “Just don’t be nervous!” doesn’t help in the slightest. So, what tips are there to actually help us to enhance our skills in this department? Melchior Glatthard took us on a broad and profound tour around the elements that make a great public speech.

One key element is preparation. It is crucial to beforehand check the surroundings of the stage on which you’re going to give the speech and plan how you’re going to use it. For instance, is there a speaker’s desk, a table? Can I move them to the side to gain more space? Once you figured that out and you’re about to speak it all comes down to presentation. In general, it can help to always remember to take enough time before speaking. Stand up from your chair, take your time to walk around it and push it to the table to create space and: deeeep breath (try to fight the impulse to awkwardly start speaking while still being halfway seated or fumbling with the chair). And then: Go!

Once you’re standing in front of your audience and speaking, it’s body-language-time! Melchior Glatthard gave us the full body check, basically from toe to head. For a strong stance, the feet are hip-width apart, the knees are slightly bent forward and therefore dynamic. Never lock them, standing with super straight legs – it’s going to make you look very stiff. To the movement in your hips from left to right or front to back, you can add a new dimension moving them up and down – but always do so consciously. Now, the belly is responsible for the whole airflow and therefore the sound and volume of your voice. Relax your diaphragm to enable your lungs to fill themselves with a maximum of air. When it comes to the torso, be aware to stand proudly and confidently (but not too much so, since it can be perceived as arrogant). Furthermore, the torso indicates the direction of the energy of your speech. Change positions to direct it across the whole audience. Support that movement with your shoulders to appear more natural. Now, let’s talk arms and hands.

You can let your arms hang by your side, but when doing so keep them slightly tense to avoid the effect of weird, dead arms. Also avoid using stigmatized gestures (talking about the “Merkel” or the “Trump”). If you have a tendency of using strong gestures, maybe find out what they mean in different cultural contexts (you don’t want to be insulting, I assume). Also, switch them up and use a bigger variety of gestures to underline your verbal points precisely. The voice is important in different respects: intonation and articulation. Intonation-wise, Melchior Glatthard gave us a very helpful tip: After a strong point say “DAMN IT” in your mind, that way the point will come across with the right amount of power. Finally, the face. The face transports a lot of information and emotion to the audience, therefore show on your face what you want your listeners to receive on their end.

Except for the opening speech, the speeches during a Model United Nations conference are so-called impromptu speeches. Four strong speech structures were introduced to us by Melchior Glatthard yesterday:

  • Opinion – Explanation – Opinion: start off with a strong point, give information to underline it and close the circle by again stating your point/conclusion

  • Past – Present – Future: start with a historic fact about your country, give a short overview about the current state of it followed by an outlook to the future

  • Repeating and Rephrasing the Question – Explanation – Answer: when asked a question directly (no matter how nasty the question), you can rephrase it to use it to your advantage

  • It-Depends-Approach: If you don’t have a strong opinion on the concrete matter, you can use this diplomatic approach to level the plainfield and direct it towards a matter that is important to your country

Take all these tricks and tips with you to your next MUN conference to always have a toolbox to wrap your content in powerful, comprehensive and elegant ways!

Until then, keep practicing!

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