Stand Out During Debate [2012 Archive]

23. March, 2012 2012 Archive 3 comments

My freshman year in high school I attended my first Model UN conference at High Tech High in California.  I was Iceland and I had no idea what I was doing.  The delegate that won gavel was one of the most creative I have seen in my seven years in MUN.  Over the years, I have found that creative debating can help make an impression in committee.

In formal caucus, sometimes the continuous stream of speeches can become tedious and repetitive.  Whenever I go to committee, I always bring chalk and whiteboard markers with me.  Sometimes in committees there are whiteboards or chalkboards and can be used to illustrate your ideas.  For instance, developing a three or four step plan can be numbered and outlined on the board during your speech and then left up to refer to during other speeches.  Delegates will have a constant reminder about your ideas.  Another way these boards can be used is to explain complicated ideas.  In committees such as IAEA or WHO, sometimes scientific ideas need more clarification.  New technologies and inventions can be diagrammed so everyone is clear on how they work.  If there are no boards in the room, which often happens in larger conferences that are in hotels or conference centers, there are often microphones.  The microphones are usually attached to a stand, either on a podium or on a stand.  You can take the microphone out of the stand and walk down the middle aisle during your speech to emphasize your points.  This allows for more interaction with the committee without actually having them talk.  Doing this early in committee can help you take command of a room and be a leader during unmoderated caucus.  In moderated caucus, speeches are usually shorter, and while some of the techniques in formal caucus may work during longer speech times, for the most part, there won’t be enough time to draw a picture or walk around the room.  However, if you have a partner, you can stand on opposite sides of the room and trade off during parts of your speech to keep people’s attention.  This is also a good time to use props, if applicable, to underscore a part of your speech.  Props could include pictures of effects of an issue in your country or models.  For instance, in a committee about anti-ballistic missiles, you could find a small model of a missile and incorporate into your speech about the danger of missiles.  These techniques work best when you have the entire committee’s attention.  However, there are other methods for when the committee’s attention is scattered, such as in unmoderated debate.

In unmoderated debate, or “unmod,” caucus groups form and people tend to lose ideas in a sea of words.  However, there are a few ways you can stand out as a leader during unmod.  Immediately after the first unmoderated debate begins, start your caucus group by calling over people in your bloc.  At this point, you should have already written notes to delegates who have presented similar points to you to have them meet you in a specific part of the room.  If the room is unusually large, sometimes people cannot tell where you are calling them to.  Because I am short, even wearing heels, I tend to stand on a chair and tell people in my bloc to meet “in the front” or “in the back.”  Not only does this tell the chair that you are taking control of your caucus group, but it also gives delegates that are unsure a direction to follow.  I usually pick the front or the back as a meeting place because if you congregate in the aisles, you have to constantly move for staff, delegates, and advisors that are trying to get past.  There are advantages to both the front and the back.  In the front, the dais can see everything you are doing, while the back is usually less crowded and there is more room for a large caucus group.  Another way to solidify your position in a committee to make sure your ideas do not get lost or stolen, is laminates.  The first time I saw laminates was when I staffed my first conference in college.  Laminates are basically handouts that have your country name on them with very specific things you would like to see implemented in resolutions.  These handouts are usually laminated to prevent them from being stolen or ripped.  Make sure that your laminates do not fully disclose all of your plans so that your ideas cannot be stolen if you hand them out.  Laminates are to help outline your position to other delegates, so you should still have your ideas memorized before committee.  Usually, I have seen a delegation have anywhere from one to three copies of their laminate.  However, some conferences have banned laminates, so make sure before the conference, or ask your chair before committee, if laminates are allowed.

Finally, it is important to have creativity outside of committee.  Maybe it sounds weird to do MUN outside of committee, but there are some techniques to implement before committee and during breaks to make an impression on your fellow delegates.  Before committee starts, put your belongings down and introduce yourself to other delegates using your name and your country.  While you may not be discussing the issues, it creates a personal connection with the other delegates in committee.  During lunch and dinner breaks, you are encouraged to expand on your working papers.  Get food with your bloc or caucus group and discuss your next move.  Lunches often decide the presenters of draft resolutions in the upcoming presentations.  Even sharing meals and breaks with delegates of opposing caucus groups can persuade them to support your draft resolution.  Finally, before the conference begins, you can print out quarter sheets of paper with your country name and a “To:” line.  This way you have paper ready to pass notes that already have your country name on it.  To make your notes extra special, you can put your country’s flag or crest on the paper.  While not mandatory, premade notes add professionalism to your delegation.

I hope that my experiences in MUN conferences over the years can help you succeed.  While none of these ideas are expected or mandatory in committee, they are fun to experiment with and help you develop your own unique ways to stand out in committee!

  1. DG-Nick

    3 / 26 / 2012 3:51 pm

    This is so totally baller. I wish I was still competing so that I could bust out laminates! SO many good ideas here.


    5 / 18 / 2012 10:14 am

    The author has done a fantastic job highlighting some of the most common ways to stand out in debate. In my experience there are a few more avenues to get the attention on you.

    Clothing choice: Ladies, pantsuits weren’t made to make you stand out but rather blend into the corporate culture. In the past delegates that stuck out wore bright colored power dresses or tops. Deep reds work best to “attract” the gaze of other delegates. Men, your tie says everything about you. If I see a delegate with an “Atlantic” (over, over, under) knot I immediately begin to think of that delegate as less experienced, a more experienced delegate would have more experience tying ties and eventually would learn new knots. Matching design patterns with your shirt fabric is something that I shouldn’t even need to say. The best delegate I’ve seen yet in the college circuit was a guy from Harvard who wore a bow-tie. It made him recognizable, different, and showed personality. He set up a bloc based on his tie alone. Its all about standing out from the heard at MUN conferences so next time purchase that electric blue neck tie!

    Metaphors: An easy way to become important and integral in debate is the use of a single metaphor to discuss your topic. At LAMUN ’12 I decided to refer to the French empire as my “family.” This metaphor allowed me to better state my stance on colonization, Alsaince-Lorraine, and German Unification. Soon delegates from both sides of debate were talking about Jules’ family (Jules was my delegate title). By creating a strong metaphor that accurately describes the issue you want to present, you can make every speaker who follows you use your own rhetoric.

    Enthusiasm: MUN can get boring, but you need to be able to spice it up for everyone else. If you are Russia talking about terrorism don’t be afraid to rant against the Chechens. If you are N. Korea don’t be afraid to ask for a moment of silence for Kim Jung-Il. If you are brazil don’t be afraid to suggest a congo line in honor of chicita banana. (okay that last one may be too far.) But creating some liveliness in your speeches can get people interested. Yell, Sing, Jump, Walk, Rant, Trip (on purpose), Fake Faint. Whatever you can do to get the attention on you, will help allow your ideas to become the solutions in debate.

  3. Diana Armstrong

    5 / 18 / 2012 11:05 am

    Oh my God!! I love this article! Please come to Monterrey sometime! Will keep this in mind for my next debate and advise delegates to check this out before every Model UN! Thank you, Chronicle, you rock my world! :)




Your comment:

Add your comment