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Is there such a thing as a gavel formula?

Some might say it’s the ability to give over-the-top speeches. Others would offer collaboration in unmoderated caucuses, delegating tasks effectively, and negating the influence of preying “power delegates”. A few would even say that it’s becoming a “power delegate” yourself. Yet, if a single criterion truly makes for Model UN success, it is this: the ability to craft a unique delegate style.

All of us on Belmont High School Model UN’s leadership board have had vastly different journeys to Model UN: take our Captain, who joined the team on a leap of faith in her freshman year, and compare her to our Head Delegate, a devoted delegate since middle school. Then look at them next to our Director of Research, who joined simply because his friends were on the team. As you might expect, not only do we have different journeys, but we’re wholly dissimilar delegates—dissimilar delegates who all win gavels. 

As a result, when it comes to training our novice delegates, there isn’t one set delegate style we ask them all to adopt. While, like every other team, we value consistency and a working vocabulary in parliamentary procedure, we take pride in building an environment that allows our delegates to develop unique individual styles, a precedent set by our former team leaders. 

Therefore, a crucial part of our training philosophy is experimentation.  We could hit our delegates over the head with strict rules and best practices until next year’s HMUN, but without trial and error, we risk copy-pasting a singular archetype of a delegate over and over again. Over the past few years, we’ve seen immense growth in overall delegate quality, likely due to our delegates’ varying styles and consistent opportunities to hone stylistic skills. Identifying what basic skills our delegates are good at and helping them hone their styles around those strengths has been integral to our success as a team. 

It is crucial to note that though we foster many strategies, proactivity and effort must be present in all delegates, as we will not compromise these values to advance style.

Granted, in the beginning stages of Model UN training, we spent over twelve hours total just focused on solid foundational skills. We’ve found that to keep retention and effort high, we need to hit the ground running, weaving in stylistic focus as well. Weekly practices with interactive speaking drills, writing practice, and ample mock conferences jointly teach novices Model UN procedure and basics and help them identify their style early on. Recently, we adopted a successful approach to training for increased individualization: feedback groups. By assigning each new delegate to an experienced mentor (MUNtor, if you will) with a distinct style, we expose our delegates to multiple possible approaches that they can choose to emulate or combine without forcing them to conform to an existing archetype. 

By taking an accelerated approach to the basics and guiding the development of delegate style early on, we avoid the “power delegate” archetype. The so-called “power del” style is immediately identifiable to any Model UN veteran and seldom garners committee support, namely because it’s often overused and underdeveloped.

Without specialized approaches to stylistic development in conjunction with high-quality Model UN understanding, teams risk forgoing awards and losing members rapidly.

We are all different people, who joined Model UN for different reasons, so it is only natural that we compete differently. Our delegates are the same way: Model UN has no “one-size-fits-all” style. Our team’s philosophy is that everyone is unique, and we strive to embrace differences in delegate style. Remember, the beauty of Model UN is that there is no one type of delegate style because there is no one type of Best Delegate. 

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