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Developing a Game Plan for Major Model UN Conferences

Written by Frank Pobutkiewicz

I'm the founder/Managing Director of the All-American Model UN Programs! If you have any questions, please email [email protected]. Happy MUNing!

January 20, 2015

Developing a Game Plan for Major Model UN Conferences

Final Prep for the Heart of the Model UN Season

Within 4-weeks, four of the six Major Model UN conferences take place in the United States: YMUN, HMUN, ILMUNC, and NAIMUN. You may find yourself scrambling to prepare for these competitions, especially if you’ll be attending more than one. Without question, this is the heart of the high school Model UN season.

How to Develop a Game Plan

You may think because you’re a MUN veteran you don’t need to prep much for one the Majors. You’re dead wrong, and chances are if you take this approach, you’ll be wondering why some other delegate has your gavel on Sunday.

You may not need to spend as much time prepping because at this point, you should be far more efficient. Here’s a quick run down of how to finish your last minute prep for one of the Major Model UN conferences.

1. Remember How to Get Extra Speaking Time

Chances are that if you are attending YMUN, HMUN, ILMUNC, or NAIMUN, you’ll be sitting in a committee with 100-200 of your closest friends. The main reason Majors are so difficult for schools to compete at stems from their inability to properly develop or apply strategies for succeeding in large committees.

If you find yourself in a General Assembly or even some ECOSOCs, you must remember how to squeeze out extra speaking time. Pay special attention to:

  • Asking other delegates, especially new friendly delegates, to yield their time to you during the secondary speakers list.
  • Making motions for moderated caucuses. Don’t just participate in formal caucusing, propose the motion to get an extra 20 seconds of speaking time in front of the dais.
  • Making points, especially points of order. Points of order signify you are paying close attention to the workings of the committee. It is also the only time during debate that you can engage 1-on-1 with your chair.
  • Making comments and asking questions. If other delegates yield to comments or questions, make sure your placard is in the air.
  • Make one of the first procedural motions: Motion to Open the Primary Speakers List or Motion to Set the Agenda. Let the chair and your committee you’re here to compete.
  • Amend motions made by others. Most chairs will allow you to amend or propose an amendment to another delegate’s motion. If someone makes a motion for a 6 minute moderated caucus, ask the chair if the speaker would be willing to amend his motion to 9 minutes. You must do this directly after the motion is made, so speak loudly and clearly. Do not wait for the chair to recognize you.

2. Have the Heart of Your Resolution Designed

I am emphatically against pre-written resolutions and thankfully in American Model UN, most conferences have strict policies against pre-written work, including all of the Major conferences.

This does not mean you should put no effort into designing your resolution.

I often refer to a “heart” of a resolution to mean the main selling point, the central theme around which the rest of the resolution revolves. Before you go into a Major conference, you don’t have the time to develop a resolution on the fly. You must have one prepared. And remember to consider all possible solutions: political, economic, and social.

3. Pair Your Research to the Questions to Consider

Background guides are a glimpse into what the chair is looking for the committee to address. The most important part of a study guide is the “Questions to Consider” section. You should be able to do your own research on the committee and topic areas but the Questions section lays out almost exactly what your chair wants resolutions to cover.

Make sure you have answers for all of the Questions listed in your guide. Like it or not, chairs are human and will favor comprehensive resolutions that address the important issues of a topic, as specified by your dais.

4. Know the Procedure

Remember to read the specific procedure of the conference that you’re attending. Each conference in the United States uses a slightly different style of procedure. If you know the nooks and crannies, you can better navigate and manipulate the flow of debate in your committee.

If the chair or crisis director has designed a unique procedure for your committee, you must know it by heart. You will end up helping other people in your committee with procedure, acting as a surrogate for your chair.


There is no secret or shortcut to performing well at a Model UN conference, especially one of the Major conferences. It will take experience, effort, and efficiency to win the gavel, especially in large committees. Now that you are less than two weeks away from game time, make sure you have some plan in place before you walk into committee.

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