Congratulations! You have made it to the home stretch of your General Assembly. By this point, hopefully, you have successfully conquered the writing process and are beginning the discussions for the Author’s Panel and merges. Fatigue, stress, and anxiety are all natural feelings at this point– everyone has been there! The important thing to remember is that it is almost over, and stamina will become your best friend if it hasn’t become your best friend already.
In a general assembly setting, stamina is one of the most important factors taken into consideration when deciding on awards. In a four-day conference setting, Saturday evening is when most of the good delegates begin to burn out and stop trying as hard in committee. You should be using that to your advantage. If the dais is choosing between you and another delegate for the gavel, being active during Q&A and the Amendment process is what could get you a gavel instead of an outstanding.
So…what’s the deal with Friday and Saturday?
Well, in a four-day conference situation, Friday and Saturday (or second and third days) are the two most important days in determining awards. This is where delegates will see the peak of debate, author working papers and draft resolutions, and hopefully complete voting procedure. That said, these processes require planning and strategy, as there is a complementary set of procedural actions that take place during or after the working paper and draft resolution periods that are crucial for awards consideration.
I’ve written my working paper. Now what?
Incredible! Now that you have completed the actual writing process, you and your bloc must present it to the committee and answer questions about it. This occurs for two primary reasons: to inform the committee and your chairs about your bloc’s core beliefs and what solutions are deemed necessary for the issue at hand and to show which documents are similar enough to merge to become one draft resolution.
While the number of delegates that go up for presentation and Q&A is subjective to committee size and dais preference, the average author’s panel typically sees a total of six individuals with an even split between presenters and Q&A panelists. Presenters and Q&A panelists are the authors of the document that have contributed the most out of the entire bloc and are decided upon by the bloc as a collective. As a delegate, you should strive to be on the Author’s Panel in some way or another.
Presentation in Model UN
Presentation is a time allotted for the designated presenters to summarize and clarify the document for the rest of the committee. This happens before the Q&A period and its duration is delegate-driven. Depending on the chair and their level of experience, sometimes presentations can be weighted as equally as Q&A in determining awards
Those who do presentations are strong delegates, but often do not have as many or as controversial clauses when compared to their Q&A counterparts. Refer to our clause writing guide for a more detailed glimpse of how to efficiently write clauses to guarantee your spot on the Author’s Panel.
Strategy for Presentation
If you are able to pull off a great presentation speech and grab the attention of the entire committee when they are focused on reading the draft resolution and coming up with questions, the dais will notice. Thus, you have to stray away from simply summarizing all of the clauses in the paper, and rather telling a story with it and making it engaging. If the paper isn’t already, try to divide it into subcategories for presentation and divide it up among the presenters, and try to take the most important one. Focus on the more ‘big picture’ clauses that you know people will be asking questions about, and more importantly focus on the clauses that make your paper unique. The presentation is not the time to be sneaky or shady, so give credit where credit is due. If one delegate is extremely upset that they didn’t get to go up for a presentation or Q&A, speak to them outside and ask them which clauses of theirs you should reference in your speech. So can then mention in your speech that X country wrote Y clause. Additionally, try to be the introductory presentation speaker, as this will allow you to take a leadership role when providing an overview of the paper and help reiterate that you are knowledgeable about the entire document. If you see that you have been doing well in committees by doing presentations, then stick to that. There have been delegates that have only done presentations and have gotten outstanding. Being the one going up for a presentation shows the committee and the dais that you know the paper inside and out and better than anyone else in your bloc.
Q&A in Model UN
Question and Answer Period, or more colloquially, Q&A, is the allotted time after the presentation period for delegates to answer questions about the document they have written. Similar to presentation, the allotted amount of time for this is typically delegate-driven. Delegates who are on the Q&A panel are timed in their answers to the committee’s questions, not the questions themselves. The dais will pick individuals to ask questions one by one and it is up to the people who are answering the questions to decide who will answer amongst the group.
So what makes Q&A harder than presentation?
Q&A is an extremely important part of the committee, and it generally comes up at least twice: Friday second session and Saturday second session. Everything around Q&A can truly bring out the worst in people. From fighting to get a spot outside the committee room to whisper-arguing in front of the entire committee over who should answer a question. That being said, you need to be the one completely separate from all of that. Ideally, you would have been leading the bloc all weekend to the point that your entire bloc wants you to go up for Q&A. But in GA, you should always prepare for the worst. That’s why it’s extremely important to collaborate with the less vocal or powerful delegates in your bloc on their clauses, and simply have more clauses than everyone else (by a margin of 2-3 clauses. Having 10 more clauses than everyone else in your bloc will end up working against you and will seem snakey). By collaborating, you can make the argument in favor of you going up for Q&A that not only do you have the most clauses but that you’ve also collaborated with everyone in the bloc on their clauses and you can adequately represent their ideas. You can also make the argument that you have the more controversial clauses in the paper that people have been talking about in room, and that you feel that people will be asking questions about them and you want to be the one responding because you wrote them. There are numerous ways to fight for your spot in Q&A, but at the end of the day, it really depends on the dynamic of your bloc and how much you have to fight for that spot.
What to do when you’re answering questions
The winning strategy is to answer as many questions and assert as much dominance as possible, but doing so in a way that is kind and diplomatic. This may sound counterintuitive because in a way it is, but this doesn’t mean it cannot be done. Here are some pointers to make sure that you stand out on your Q&A panel:
- Keep your answers concise and to the point.
- Don’t just answer the question, but also discuss the impact of the clause itself. Why is it absolutely necessary to implement this policy and have this clause in the paper and how does it benefit the population you’re addressing as a whole
- Be cordial, if someone asks you a very aggressive question, don’t respond back aggressively. When there is a clear shift in volume or tone from someone asking a question to the person answering, it immediately catches the room’s attention, and they will listen to your answer.
- Don’t fight to get every single question, even if they are about your clauses. It’s better to be the person that’s visibly passing the mic rather than the one fighting to answer a question. A good way to show leadership is to direct a question to another delegate on the Q&A with you.
- Understand what the Questioner is trying to do; i.e. undermine your credibility, highlight/focus on flaws in the paper, and beat it. Try to flip the attack back onto the questioner, make it seem like they haven’t read the entire paper, or show that you know more about the issues.
- Don’t listen to the first half of a question and then fight with another member of the bloc for the microphone to answer the question. That looks really bad to the dais, and everyone will notice. Sometimes it’s fine to let someone else in your bloc answer the extremely complicated and niche question and botch the answer.
- Sometimes you will know a lot about a question and that’s awesome, but keep it short, people will typically listen to maybe 15 seconds of an answer (and even that is generous)
What to do when you’re asking questions
You should be raising your placard every single time there is an opportunity to ask questions during the Q&A period. Here is a list of some do’s and don’ts for asking questions:
- Do not ask a rambling question that goes on for a minute. You will lose the entire audience, and the entire effect of the question will be lost. Keep them short and to the point to maximize the power of the question.
- Do not waste a question by being unspecific or asking about the resolution in general. This will happen all the time and you will be incredibly frustrated. Instead, ask pointed questions that force someone’s hand into answering something they do not want to.
- Do ask actual questions. Do not be one of those people that try to attack a clause by stating why it is problematic: they or the chair will ask you to actually as a question, and you will end up looking stupid.
- Do point out the exact clause (and relevant subclauses) if necessary in your question. Chairs enjoy a delegate who not only helps “run” the committee through their leadership but also someone who makes it easy for them to follow along with what is actually going on in debate.
- Most importantly always have your placard up during the Q&A. You should always be trying to tear people apart by asking questions; this is one of the best ways to poke holes in people’s resolutions. Assign one delegate to find every stupid point in the resolution while reading along, and the other to be listening incredibly close to the actual presentation to pick apart a mistake in speaking.
How this changes with a Double Delegate
During Q&A, both delegates should also have a specific role. One double delegate should have their placard up the entire time ready to deliver a question, while the other should be making notes about which clauses are contentious among each draft resolution (in a single delegate committee, you have to do both, so maximize efficiency by just putting a star by the clauses you want to write amendments about later). You should be focusing on those contentious clauses to amend. The dais should see you being very proactive during the unmoderated caucus when amendments are being written. Have your legal pad with all of your amendments out, and walk around to each member of the bloc asking for their signatures so it can pass as a friendly amendment. Consider investing in a colored legal pad (the crisis delegates always have them, so you should ask for one before the conference) so that way when the amendments are on the dais, the chairs can tell which ones are yours.
You should be prepared to speak on the fly for a for or against speech for every single amendment that is introduced. This is where choosing the double delegate that can speak about something with little time to prepare is incredibly important. There will come a time when no one wants to make a speech, so you should fill every hole by always having your placard up.