1. Using Committee as Social Hour;
Model UN provides a wonderful opportunity to connect with others who share common interests outside of the activity. Though forming relationships is essential to diplomacy, you must remember that the goal of each committee session is to debate and form solutions, not to make friends and chat. Use committee, especially unmoderated caucuses, to discuss the topic(s) on the agenda. Saving most small talk for meal times and breaks in order to maximize the time and quality of debate and make you a frontrunner in committee.
2. Taking Debate Too Personally;
While debate frequently results in high tensions and emotion in committee, you simply cannot let it fluster you. Remember that the goal of debate is not to attack character or to defend personal opinions, but rather to challenge or defend the policies of the various represented countries. When another delegate critiques or qualifies your country’s policies or solutions, use it as a guide to adjust your diplomatic strategy, embolden your defense, and make your solutions more robust and interesting. Responding to criticism positively proves to your chair that you’re a receptive, confident delegate who strives to push debate forward.
3. Underestimating Yourself;
An experienced delegate can certainly be intimidating; however, do not be scared of those delegates. Remember that intimidation is often used intentionally in order to scare younger, less-experienced delegates and reduce an experienced delegate’s chances of being challenged for dominance or leadership in committee. When you have a delegate like this in your bloc, it’s easy to let them take the reigns and allow yourself to fall behind, but you must always try to make sure you stand out. Be the one answering questions, participating during moderated caucuses, and lobbying for support to get yourself noticed.
4. Reading Instead of Speaking;
Although perfect phrasing can be satisfying and may curb speaking anxiety, try to avoid reading from pre-written speeches. The goal of speaking in front of committee is to speak, not to read. Standing in front of the room and reciting a prepared speech may come across as inauthentic, monotonous, and overall lacking in confidence and leadership skills. Adapting quickly to situations characterizes a strong delegate and distinguishes the content of your speech from that of other delegates. You’ll impress your chairs most not by being perfect and contrived, but instead by being articulate and adaptable. Improving as a speaker requires a departure from the safety net of a prepared speech, and embracing the anxiety as a sign of growth!
Cross-talk can seriously disrupt committee’s professional atmosphere. It is disrespectful to all members of committee–the speaker, his or her audience, and the chair. Resist the urge to cross-talk, and send a note instead. Respect requires patience, but this price is well worth it, as chairs most value delegates who are both skilled and respectful.
6. Being Overly Aggressive;
Assert yourself in all aspects of committee, but be sure that your assertiveness doesn’t come at the expense of diplomacy. You must learn to adjust your behavior depending on how it is being received in committee–both by the chair and other delegates. Read your chair and his or her body language. If your chair seems to respond discontentedly to your presentation during moderated caucuses or unmoderated caucuses, evaluate your behavior and make any changes you think will improve how committee perceives you. Adaptability is fundamentally critical to the success of every delegate.
7. Underestimating Your Position
Use your creativity to surpass the limitations of your position. While some topics may concern some countries more than others, every country grapples with the issue at hand (or a similar one). Irrespective of the debate’s perceived relevance to your position, as long as you showcase your captivating speaking, writing, and creative ideas, you’ll emerge as a contender.
8. Abandoning Your Country’s Policy in Favor of Popular Opinion
A willingness to collaborate and cooperate is paramount in Model UN, yet it is important to remember that your primary goal is to defend the views and enact the interests of your nation. The chairs will notice if you seem to be abandoning your views or contradicting a previous statement to follow the views of the majority. Your nation won’t always hold the popular opinion of committee, and the chairs acknowledge and want that. Debate does not exist without disagreement. In fact, you are one of the most powerful people in committee because delegates always strive to compromise with the dissenters. Be diplomatic, but do so without relinquishing your nation’s goals and policies. Defend them until the end!
9. Being Unprepared
An experienced delegate may think that they can go into a committee with little to no research and succeed. While this may work for a very strong delegate occasionally, it is not an optimal or bulletproof method by any measure. Having research is extremely beneficial to a delegate. Knowing the views of your country inside and out will get you noticed by the dais and put you on track to success.
10. Not being Open to New Solutions
While staying true to your nation’s policies and ideas is important, the UN is a diplomatic organization and flexibility is key. The dais will appreciate seeing delegates have a solution mapped out early on, but the delegate must be willing to adapt to the way the room is going. Openness to new solutions along with the flow of committee will impress the chairs!
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