There’s a powerful, natural energy and buzz that comes from the first Model UN conference of the season. The whole team is excited and anxious, and that energy is great for team leaders because it is easy to channel towards preparation. What happens far too often, though, is that leaders wait until the first conference of the year is within a few weeks, at which point the preparation process begins, harnessing the excitement as motivation for good work. This pattern of last minute preparation, however, is highly detrimental to novice delegates who may be unfamiliar with parliamentary procedure and basic conference strategy.
Though it may seem tedious or exhausting to begin the preparation process so early in the year, starting a few months prior to the first conference provides an essential foundation for novice delegates. Here’s why:
1. Specificity Isn’t Always Your Friend
Something that is preached constantly in Model UN is that specificity is king, and that’s true: when it comes to writing resolutions, researching a subtopic, or delivering substantive speeches. However, when it comes to conference preparation as a whole, curating your preparation towards one specific committee structure and preparing strategically for the format of one particular conference will hurt your performance in the long run. Things like parliamentary procedure, the structure of the UN, or basic understanding of geopolitics: these make up a list of objective knowledge that all quality delegates have; as such, they should be integrated into conference preparation regardless of the conference you are preparing for at the moment.
Focusing solely on your topic and the strategy which typically results in awards at one specific conference may help you perform better at one conference, but it will stunt your capacity to adapt to different procedures, committee structures, and chairing preferences in the future.
Beginning preparation earlier in the year allows the necessary time to cover both objective Model UN information as well as conference-specific research.
2. Anxiety Gets in The Way
Going into a Model UN conference, a certain amount of nerves can be productive towards heightening your performance and balancing a competitive attitude. That being said, when preparation isn’t begun until a mere few weeks before the conference, nervousness and anxiety can become overwhelming. Simply put, high levels of anxiety amongst the team tends to get in the way of conference preparation. Therefore, to avoid the distraction of heavy nervousness, starting preparation earlier in the year will put the team at ease and reduce fears of being underprepared.
3. Last Minute Cramming Doesn’t Usually Work (crazy, right?)
This should be obvious to most, but in case it is not: last minute cramming for any academic task usually does not result in success. Particularly with Model UN topics being highly nuanced, complicated subjects of geopolitics and international relations, any attempt to fully understand an assigned topic and country perspective in less than a few weeks will likely fail. For novice and experienced delegates alike, beginning the preparation process earlier in the season will better ensure a deep understanding of the assigned topic and avoid embarrassing moments of unawareness during committee.
In short, beginning the conference preparation process earlier in the season averts excessive anxiety, ensures higher quality topic understanding, and allows time for general as well as specific research. As a team leader, instilling responsible conference preparation is the best way to support novice delegates in their journey towards Model UN excellence.