You look around as you walk into your first giant General Assembly. You see tens of people all over the room setting up their things, checking their phones or talking. Thoughts may cross your mind sounding something like this:
How am I supposed to do this? There are 200 other delegates here. This room is so big. Everyone is talking or passing notes and the committee session has barely started. Even in this unmoderated caucus I’m invisible. This. Is. Chaos. I’m supposed to speak right when the committee session starts back up again. How will I be able to make an impact with so many people? What can I say to do that? If I don’t get noticed within the next hour will I be able to come back from it? Why did I even sign up for this?
Why would anyone put themselves through this? Because they want to push themselves to the limits of their MUN skills. Also, some aspects of the Model UN game can only be learned in a giant GA. Standing out and surviving a big General Assembly committee session, or any large committee session, is a difficult task. There are so many things going on at once and you will not be able to keep track of it all. Also, it may feel overwhelming at first, especially for new delegates. This article is going to help you through that. It will help you focus on what is important, how to effectively use your skills and gain new ones. If you are going to be in a giant GA session, or other large committee, the tips to survive and thrive start here.
Top survival tips to stand out in a giant MUN GA?
Come early, stay late, and meet people
It is very important to arrive at the committee room 25-30 minutes before the first session. This can show the Chair of the committee that you are prompt, punctual, and prepared for the session. More importantly, however, is that you can be part of the lobbying before it starts. Some blocks will start forming before the conference starts and you want to be part of it, or at least aware.
When the session is over, don’t be in a rush to leave. Even though each day of committee is long and grueling, sometimes this will be your best opportunity to negotiate, marge, make deals and gathering information. Once everyone disperses it is much harder to get them to come together. It is best to sit right after the session, get your blocks line of argument, and your resolutions, ready for the next morning. This time will be worth it. Also, other delegates, sometimes in frustration over the day’s proceedings, may talk more than they should. Have a listening ear at the ready.
No matter what time of day it is, don’t be afraid to introduce yourself to your fellow delegates. People are much more willing to work with people they know. If they can put a name to your face, you will have an easier time dealing with them. Don’t be shy. Meet as many people as you can when there are openings. This can be during down time before,right after committee sessions or at socials.
Get a seat in the front
This is such an overlooked strategy for success in a committee session, especially in a large committee. You need to choose the right seat. Large committees can have over 200 delegates. Many of these delegates will be sitting in areas not as easily seen. This can be the middle where it’s hard to distinguish placards or the back where their placards aren’t seen at all. Don’t be one of those delegates. Get in the room early and find a good position that is visible to the dias.
Having a well-positioned seat can be the difference between being called on a few extra times and not being seen at all. The Chairs are humans, too. They will try to be balanced but between active attempts at objectivety they will call on those who they can see.
Typically, most delegates find that sitting in the aisle seats of the first 3-5 rows puts them in the “sweet spot” for getting called on the most. Another option is the very first row. If you are in a seat where the chair can see your face try to avoid making faces or silently swearing at other delegates. If your chair can see you, make sure they don’t see anything that would work against you.
Get your most important information into your first speech
Assume you will speak about five times during the conference. Your first speech to the committee may not come until the second day. It could also be in the first 10. What is important is to always have your speech ready and it is structures for maximal impact.
Your first speech is important, so make sure you fill it with important information. This speech should start with an opening line that makes your position very clear. Facts should be few but relevant. Use numbers. Make sure your policy is clear. Name drop allies and opponents to make sure they are listening. Allies and interested parties will be looking for speeches like these. Follow our killer speech writing guide for more in depth guidelines on writing a great Model UN speech. While smaller committees have more speaking opportunities, and a bad speech isn’t the end of the world, you should do your best to make each speech as user friendly, interesting and relevant as possible. You won’t get many so each one should count.
Write speeches that are evergreen
Because there is a speaker’s list that establishes the order everyone will speak in, it is unlikely you will get to respond immediately to something you hear in a speech. Sometimes you will think of something to say but it will be a while before you get to speak again. Don’t worry about that. You just need to craft a speech that can be used any time with some slight modification.
Always have speeches written that address the main ideas or points being debated. Focus on what keeps coming up in your block and other blocks. Write a speech focused on those big issues and themes and you can give it in the beginning, middle or end of the same session.
If something comes up after you write your speech, don’t scrap the whole thing. Just make sure you write it so it can be easily modified and read.
Always be on the speaker’s list
As soon as you are finished with a speech, send a note to the dais to get back on the speaker’s list. You may not have something to say at that moment, but it will take a while for you to come back around. Doing this will ensure that you always have the opportunity to express your ideas to the committee as a whole.
Be a note passing machine
To prevent angering speakers, or more importantly the Chair, passing notes is the best way to communicate during committee sessions. When you need to send an important reminder to Ecuador, send them a note and wait for their note in response. When you need to ask for South Africa’s help, send a note their way. This way, you are not speaking and interrupting whoever is speaking at the podium.
Have notes ready. Anticipate what you will need to say and have some generic notes ready. All you will have to do it add the important details in.
Know the general policies of other blocks
Knowing what the policies are of the other blocks and countries within those blocks is important. This is why prior research matters. You cannot very well ask Pakistan to agree with India on a security issue without thinking about the implications. You have to know their history.
Always anticipate how others will respond by knowing their positions and policies.
Use unmoderated caucus topics to get ideas into the arena
While the committee session can see overwhelming, unmoderated caucuses offer delegates the opportunity to get their ideas out to smaller groups, and individual delegations, quickly. Whether you are with your own block or speaking to an opposing block, groups during an unmoderated caucus will be smaller than the committee as a whole.
Take advantage of the smaller numbers to ensure your ideas are heard. If you don’t have a large enough block to push it, try to get them into working papers and draft resolutions.
Be diplomatic during unmoderated caucuses
Unmoderated caucuses are the arena to get serious work done. They move at a fast pace because they are on a time limit, but that does not mean that manners and order should go out the window.
Your diplomatic skills, and Model United Nations floorwork wil needed here more than in any part of. For you to stand out in a large group, the smaller unmoderated caucuses will let your skills shine through. If you see a problem between two delegates, be the one to fix it. Bring everyone together. If you establish yourself as the bridge in unmoderated caucuses, they will listen to you in committee sessions too.
Don’t be the one to make people mad in unmoderated caucuses. Let other delegates stick their foot in their mouths. Be the one to pick up the pieces. Be a calming influence.
Gain confidence in a smaller group and bring that confidence out in the larger session.
Give your clause points creative names
Catch phrases stick. They get into people’s minds and stay there. This is especially true for giant committees where the speeches that don’t stand out turn into a blur.
Are you trying to solve hunger issues in the Darfur region? Create a program titled “Bringing Ready to Eat Assistance to Darfur.” Turn that into an acronym – BREAD. Now you have something that will stick with everyone. It makes the issue more real and tangible. However, keep in mind that sometimes an acronym can rub certain delegates the wrong way. If it comes down to choosing between keeping your acronym or keeping your block that anser should not be too complicated.
Have a clause that YOU get credit for
To stand out in a large group, you need to get credit for something. You don’t have to be the master of an entire resolution. Try to get the an important issue to your country into a clause.
Fight for this clause and make deals for it. Make sure they know it belongs to you. Be careful though. Make sure this clause benefits other countries as well to have a majority and flag it in your speeches so chairs know it’s yours.
Be the face of your resolution
You may be a great resolution writer. Let that be your way to stand out in a large committee.
If you have written a great resolution, get others on board and be a spokesperson for it. If you defend it well and use your great diplomatic skills, people will know that you are the one who came up with it. People will come to you when you produce something of quality that also supports, or at least does not detract from, what is important to them.
Empower your allies
You have allies, so make them feel worth of being aligned with you.
Be wary of what they need and help them get it. Speak up for them as well as yourself.
If you are allied with smaller countries or newer players, give them a voice. They will thank you for it in action.
Delegate tasks that matter
If you end up being a player in a block, you may have to delegate some tasks out. In our article Power Delegates and How to Deal With Them, we point out that ambitious solo players, or ASPs, will delegate meaningless tasks to other people just to keep them busy. Don’t do this if you want to make friends and get their support.
Delegate tasks of importance. If an important clause needs to be written but is waiting for the agreement of a key country from another block, send someone to negotiate with that person. You will be surprised to find hidden skills in people you didn’t think had them. Once you are aware of the abilities of those you work with you will become even more effective.
Get others to like you
Being nice goes a long way. ASPs always appear nice, but in reality they are saying anything they can to get people to go along with their ideas.
Sometimes it is nice to simply ask someone where they are from. Establish relationships with your fellow delegates. As mentioned above, when people know who you are and realized that you are a decent person, they will be much more willing to work with you. They may not be able to always agree with you due to who they represent, but at least you will have an open dialogue with them.
Be on good terms with your Chairs
Introduce yourself to the Chairs of your committee. Let them know who you are and who you represent. Always be polite with them and be patient if they are taking longer than you would like to do something. Never get mad at them.
Don’t overdo it. They will recognize any delegate who is sucking up to them and won’t like it. Simply being polite with the Chairs will go a long way. For more information on interacting with your chairs check out our guide on creating a good relationship with your chairs.
Introduce yourself during socials
After-hours socials are a great time to get to know other delegates. Always remember, the diplomatic game is always on. Our article on Successful Negotiation for Model UN explains just that.
Be sure to introduce yourself at the socials. Let other delegates know who you represent and let the talking of shop begin.
Let the conversation flow naturally. While it will likely turn to committee matters it is fine when it does not. Rebebmberthat personal connection is key. Keeping the conversation light at a Model UN party is just as important as being able to merge blocks.
When Working as Double Delegates
There are some committees, particularly giant ones, that requires two delegates per country. You will need to work together. This can be a good thing, as now you can split responsibilities to accomplish your goals. The trick is not just working together, but learning to work well together.
Each should help the other play to their strengths
Before you even attend a conference, you need to know each other’s strengths. What are you good at that your partner is not and vice versa.
If one of you is a natural communicator and the other a great writer, then one of you will be the spokesperson and one will be the clause and resolution writer.
Learn to work as coordinated separate units
You need to split tasks. Neither of you should be striving to accomplish the same task all the time. If a resolution or clause you are working on needs to be written but also needs the approval of two other countries, one of you should be writing while the other is gaining the approval.
When needed, work and stick together
Unity will be needed sometimes. Occasionally, the task at hand will be important enough to require both of you to work together, such as a giant merger with another large and important block.
If you are on a final push for a clause or resolution, be united and create a force to be reckoned with in the room.
Get on the same page at the end of the day
At the end of each day, you need to have a time to debrief with your partner. Make sure both of you are working on tasks that move toward your final desired outcomes.
Communication goes a long way. Many educators and teachers say that if you review your daily notes from class, even for ten minutes, at the end of the day, you will retain the information better. The same thing applies here. Keeping each other on the same page at the end of the day will give you a join starting point and clear up any confusion.
For more on double delegating check out our article on Double Delegating in Model UN.
ConclusionWe get it. Big committees can be overwhelming, but they can be overcome. You joined Model UN for the challenges each committee bring and a giant room with few speeches and a lot of lobbying and merging is one of those situation. A large committee will certainly challenge you and test your limits. Don’t panic when faced with a room packed with hundreds of delegates. Once the session starts and the motions get going, it won’t take long for you to get into the swing of things. Remember, you’ve done your research and prepared for this conference. Follow our steps. Get to the committee session early, get a good seat and get to work.