In Praise of 30 Second Speaking Time

Before I step onto my soapbox for this article, I think y’all should know two things. One, this article will mainly be about speaking time in crisis committees. I have literally never been in a GA committee at a conference, even less a GA committee with 100+ people. Therefore I can’t speak to the impact of speaking time in those types of committees. Two, I generally consider speaking my strong point. I’m alright in crisis, I can complete an arc (or at least 75% complete it), and I’d like to think my ideas are creative. I can write a directive that will pass, but it probably won’t be as good as another delegate’s, or as detailed as the quiet kid’s in the back. But a speech? Now that I can work with. Which is why I have such strong opinions on speaking time. That being said, here’s my total and honest opinion on speaking time.

If you want a short and sweet version of this article, here it is: 1 minute is ridiculous, 45 seconds should be the maximum speaking time, 30 seconds is the best, and 15 seconds is far too short. If you don’t want to know why I think that is, read no further. If you do, here’s my reasoning. 

If you motion for 1 minute speaking time, especially in a crisis committee, I’m probably (read: definitely) going to roll my eyes. At no point in my MUN experience has anyone been able to fill up a full 60 seconds with meaningful, thoughtful, debatable content. Never. It always ends up with the delegate rambling on about something they said 15 seconds ago, spouting absolute jargon that makes quite literally no sense to try and confuse the newbies, or just copping out after 30 seconds of speaking. If you can successfully fill up a minute of speaking time and make me pay attention to all of it, congratulations. Go buy a lottery ticket because that was pure luck. 

45 seconds requires far too much thought but is also what I think should be the maximum allowed speaking time in crisis committees. Not that there shouldn’t be thought put into a speech, but when you’re considering the fast pace of crisis committees, 45 seconds is similar to a 1 minute speaking time. People will repeat themselves too much, make redundant points, and not propose any new ideas because there hasn’t been enough debate since everyone wants to be the one who fills a full 45 seconds and does it well. And very few delegates are those delegates. To another point, no one knows how to properly propose a caucus with 45 second speaking time which wastes time that could be used to debate. They ask for an 8 minute mod with 45 second speaking time, then the chair has to say “are you amendable to 9 minutes? 45 seconds doesn’t go into 8 minutes evenly.” You’d think that this would be less common than it is, but it’s happened in almost every committee I’ve been in. A small annoyance, I realize, but it helps contribute to my hatred of long speaking times.

30 seconds is fairly easy to fill up in a standard caucus. Talk about the directive you’re working on, urge others to work with you, voice opposition to what was just said in debate. 30 seconds is peak speaking time. It is the filet mignon of speaking time. Getting gaveled down after speaking for a full 30 seconds is a joy like no other, and finishing your speech at exactly 30 seconds? All the dopamine in your brain releases at the same time. It fits into any length of caucus you want without having to do even the smallest amount of math. Even if your speech is repetitive, at least it’s only repetitive for 30 seconds. This speaking time is *chef’s kiss* superb.

15 seconds is too short, unless your committee wants rapid-fire ideas, in which case a gentlemen’s unmod would likely be more useful. It’s hard to get a full thought out in 15 seconds, and sometimes you only get to speak once a caucus, depending on the size of the committee. It doesn’t even allow me time to write out a crisis note, complete a full clause of a directive, or even yawn. Think of the things you can do in 15 seconds: sneeze a few times, tie your shoelace, do a couple sit ups. In my humble opinion, a 15 second speech is either a waste of time or requires me to talk again to complete my point. 

Now that I’ve ripped apart every speaking time other than 30 seconds, it’s your responsibility to go and see if you notice this at conferences. If you like to talk and can talk for a minute, cool. But keep in mind that some other people can’t, and making it 1 minute speaking time exclusively because you want to talk for a minute is not only selfish, it’s a waste of everyone’s time. Now I will climb down off my soapbox, meditate for a bit, and dream of the speeches I could make in 30 seconds.

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