When everyone zigs, you zag: Tips and Tricks for becoming the Best Delegate at Model United Nations

By Marysia Czabanowska, Head of Delegations at UNSA Maastricht

Is it your first time being a delegate? Have you already been infected by the MUN fever? Maybe you are already an expert. Model United Nation conferences are known for being intellectual gatherings of great minds with talented and versatile characters. It is not the easiest crowd to stand out in, as most people have their own, self-tested killer tactics. Anyone can be the best delegate; it all depends on your motivation, passion and willingness to learn. There are no strict steps or procedures to reach the top! Be yourself and make the most out of your character, experience and knowledge. In order to make the process easier for you, here is a list of tips and tricks of how to nail your MUN experience:

1.) Be ahead of the game: no last minutes!

Read the study guide. The study guide is your Rubik’s cube; do everything in your power to solve it. Break down the topic by highlighting its main issues and determining who are the primary, secondary and other actors. Establish who are your potential allies and try to look for common interests. Be prepared for having to do a lot of convincing as first impressions matter. Make other delegates remember you, compromise and provide benefits.

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2.) Having nothing to say is no fun: Research well

There is nothing worse than not having an in-depth knowledge about your country’s policy. Know the weaknesses and strengths of your allocation while always having a plan B. Foresee possible scenarios and gain respect by becoming the encyclopedia of your committee. Make sure to not only know what happens in your country, find out the probable goals and desires of your opponents. Target and specify your research. It is important to know: What are the powers and competences of your committee? What resolutions have been written about the discussed topic? Why did they fail/succeed? How can you improve on them? How has your country acted with respect to the conflict? What actions did it take? Use the resources that the chairs have provided you with, as their knowledge will most likely consist from the information derived from there.

3.) Be a diplomat: deliver sound and coherent arguments

Avoid unnecessary sentences and show immediate plans for action. Have an outline for your steps of action, which are easy for everyone else to follow. Try to stick with three main points and elaborate on them. Each point can and should have sub-sections, however to make everyone listen you must present a definitive and a powerful set of objectives. Speak confidently, stand straight, use catchy phrases and speak stronger if you want to emphasize your point. Know appropriate vocabulary and distinguish the differences between key words. Bind others with offers that are hard to refuse, by introducing clauses in your resolution, which are in favor of their country’s policy.

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4.) Get out of the shadow and influence others: inspire

Avoid sounding monotonic. Practice speaking in front of a mirror; make sure to change voice intonations when emphasizing your point. Make eye contact with your peers; look at them when your argument relates to their country’s position. Collaborate with others and mention them in your speeches, which will make them pay closer attention to your words. Use body language and gesticulate with your hands. Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone (sometimes your country’s position differs from your own; learn to argue against yourself). Make sure to keep your arguments clear and easy to understand. Avoid the ‘ummmmms’ and ‘emmmmms’, instead use replacement words or synonyms; take a deep breath or pause.

5.) Get your facts straight

Remember that by using facts and figures, you validate your arguments and opinions. Nobody can argue against facts, but be careful! Good delegates always prepare a set of facts to work with; don’t expect to be the only one. If another delegate steals your facts, approbate them and always try to add something on to their response. Think about unique facts, think about history, and think about previous resolutions.

6.) Become a master of debate by listening

Never think that a topic doesn’t relate to you. Do not show yourself as a ‘weak delegate’, have opinions and do not be afraid to speak up, even if you have little interest in a certain matter, you can still help and offer your assistance. Make yourself seem valuable and show that your country’s policy is malleable.

7.) Do not over-flatter your chairs

Do not become best friends with your chairs and do not try to win their approval by giving compliments, spending time with them during your breaks and focusing your attention on how they would like you to behave. Be yourself and let your success make them notice you.

8.) Work in a team

Do not be selfish during an unmoderated caucus. Do not talk only about your own country’s policies. Do not seek to be the only writer of the resolution. Instead, invite other delegates to influence your actions, ask them about what are their opinions, be understanding and make compromises. You can even try to help the weaker delegates and encourage them to start drafting the resolution; your chairs will notice and respect you for helping others. Make allies and try to remember the names of all delegates or at least the ones who you will be willing to cooperate with. Most importantly: look for common ground and stick to it. Make sure your arguments have a touch of something that everybody will approve and appreciate.

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