During committee, communication with other delegates is absolutely essential in order to stay relevant. Due to the nature of parliamentary procedure, face-to-face conversations are rare during hectic committee sessions; therefore, note-passing is the only viable way to maintain communication with other delegates in between unmoderated caucuses. Whispering during committee is a great, quick way to get on your chair’s bad side. Avoid cross-talk at all costs: instead, rely on note-passing to continue one-on-one conversations with other delegates throughout the long strings of moderated caucuses. Over the course of a conference, committee tends to get more chaotic as debate heats up, so notes also tend to get more frantic, messy, and pile up as more and more delegates join the resolution bloc. Here are four ways to make sure your note-passing system is organized, efficient, and effective in communicating with other delegates during committee:
1.) Cut to the chase.
While writing notes is important, you’ve got to make sure that you keep raising your placard and giving speeches in order to participate actively in debate. For this reason, it’s essential that you keep your notes short and to the point: only include the most urgent information. Remember: notes exist only to tide delegates over until the next unmoderated caucus. Don’t write notes that include information that’s not time sensitive or that can wait until the next unmoderated caucus: that simply wastes everybody’s time. For example: if you need a quick clarification regarding a clause that a delegate wrote for the resolution, that’s a good reason to write a note because the resolution writing process is time limited, and thus you probably won’t have time during the unmoderated caucus to find that delegate and ask the clarification. If you want to mention to another leader in your bloc that you got a new signatory for your paper, that’s something that could easily be communicated briefly in the next unmoderated caucus.
2.) Don’t be subtle.
Regardless of committee size, there are always tons and tons of notes circulating the committee room. If the page or “note-passer” can’t immediately identify who the note is addressed to, he/she will most probably just return the note to the general area that it came from, or worse: shove it to the bottom of the pile where it will likely never see the light of day again. To avoid this and ensure that your note is delivered as quickly as possible, make sure that you explicitly and boldly state on the external portion of the note who sent it (you) and who it is addressed to. Here’s an example of what this may look like:
*insert the content of your note here*
Since you probably don’t want other members of committee reading your notes, fold over that part of the paper, but make sure that the TO/FROM portion is clearly visible.
3.) Stand out.
Using colored or custom printed paper is a great way to make yourself stand out in committee. Delegates can recognize your notes from across the room, which emphasizes the fact that you are constantly participating in committee and communicating with other delegates, even if it’s silently. Distinguishing yourself via notes can be accomplished easily by using colored paper or Post-It notes. If you want to be a little more “extra,” than you could use a custom letterhead instead. Some delegates print out slips of paper prior to the conference with their assigned country flag and country name already printed at the top. This definitely isn’t necessary, but it’s a fun way to stand out in committee and demonstrate your seriousness.
4.) Respond promptly.
If you’ve been participating actively in the committee, the chances are you’re sending and receiving a lot of notes throughout a committee session. It is easy to lose notes or forget to respond to them in the flurry and chaos of committee: to avoid this, you need to keep your desk/lap organized in order to stay on top of your notes. Once you respond to a note, tuck it in a folder pocket or underneath your binder so that you can keep your workspace as clear as possible and avoid getting confused. Once you receive a note, do your best to respond as soon as possible. The longer a note sits at your desk, the less likely you are to remember to respond and the less relevant your response will be as committee moves on to new topics.
Note passing is one of the most crucial, but commonly overlooked aspects of staying relevant in committee. Maintaining open communication with other delegates is the best way to establish positive relationships with other members of committee and ensure that your ideas are ultimately incorporated into the resolution. If nothing else, just remember to keep notes flowing in the most efficient way possible by following the guidelines above in order to make your committee experience productive and successful.