“A new week has started.” To many, that’s not a particularly intimidating phrase but, to an MUN council chair/ secretariat, it can be. A new week brings a new delegates training session to be planned and conducted, and with that, comes quite the notorious challenge.
However, as a secretariat, I discovered that when done right, the delegates training sessions can be the most fun & rewarding experience imaginable. Nothing in the world can compare to the high of walking out of one knowing you did an amazing job, and that you just left your delegates with a day they will never forget.
This article series will let you in on a 12 secret checklist that can make your sessions as successful as possible. Follow them, and you will set your sessions apart every time.
Secret # 1. Air-Tight Planning:
Did you know that 60% of the session’s success is determined before it even starts? Planning in this case comes on many different levels. There’s the content planning, teamwork planning, execution planning & a PLAN B scenario planning.
Here’s what you need to make sure you have:
- The content is well planned and divided on every member clearly.
- Every part has primarily responsible team members, and secondarily responsible team members (Either to co-handle, or just to act as a backup, or a life jacket in case the other member gets stuck, forgets something, or needs help unexpectedly).
- Rehearse your parts individually and as a team.
- There is a Plan B for every possible obstacle & every possible problem.
- Go early to the session’s location, and set everything up (projector, laptop, flyers, workshop props), as well as did a final rehearsal. This really makes a difference.
Secret # 2. Properly Balanced Content:
A mistake most of us fall into, is putting too much weight on one thing at the price of another, usually due to our own prejudices. For instance, a member that loved workshops as a delegate, would suggest putting too much weight on games and activities, while another would rather enrich the session with deep academics, ends up suggesting that most of the session be spent on academic presentations.
It is a difficult balance, but for a delegate to truly be satisfied with a session, he must never reach a moment of boredom. It’s not when you make it all fun and games, but when the session is properly diversified, that they never get a chance to settle into one “mode”. A great session is where the delegates are always on their toes, waiting for the next thing, where they are involved, and challenged, and learning, yet not overwhelmed. This next checklist will explain further:
General Rule of thumb for academic vs. practical content ratios:
- Academic presentations (35%-45%) – Never exceed 50%.
- Workshops and practical activities to assist in understanding the academics: (30%-40%)
- The rest for: Re-cap Quizzes, Games, Competitions, Discussions, Q&As, Newsflashes, Ice-breakers or anything else you can think of to spice up the session
Tip: Divide up everything so nothing lasts too long. Example, if you have 60 minutes allocated for presentations, cut them up into 20 minute segments and scatter them across the session. Fill the time in between with workshops or debates.
Secret # 3. Team Dynamics:
What is a session again? 4 people, working together to deliver content in the best way. How well they work together determines whether they can reach great heights. Here’s a little known secret: No matter how well you plan, research or work, without a proper communication & teamwork system between all 4 of you, your goals will only be halfway met. The key to delivering an outstanding session, and having your delegates truly inspired by your work rests in how your team dynamics are portrayed during the session. Let’s put that into practical examples.
Golden dynamics pointers for sessions:
- Know the details of each other’s work. While one team member is presenting, all others should be well aware of what he will do (to avoid mistakes), how long it will take (to help him stay in check), and whether he will need any form of assistance. Do not go into a session not knowing that.
- Help each other at all times. You are not evaluated separately. If one team member is not working well, trust me, the delegates will see all of you as flawed. Your team members difficulties & problems are your own. All you have in front of these 50 delegates, is each other. Remember that.
- You are always on the job all throughout the session, so always make yourself useful. Even when you have no clear task, go sit with the delegates & see if they understand, write notes for improvement, trust me, there is always something to do. Just don’t do nothing thinking “It’s not my part”.
- Stand by at all times for assistance or support if a team member needs help. But:
- Never interrupt your team member while he’s speaking without his consent. Ask first, It even looks better to the delegates..
- Smile ! You are on camera.
Your problems are a private matter between the four of you. Never let the delegates notice them during the session. Once you enter that auditorium, you are being watched. Smile now, talk later.
- Again, rehearse the entire session as a team before hand. This will help your joint work flow smoother when it’s actually in progress, you will know when to interrupt, when to support and when to stand by & listen.
- Create your own codes. Agree on special signals that you can use to communicate when you can’t talk directly (in the middle of the session). For instance, we had a code for when someone needed to wrap up because time was running out, or for when someone forgot something and needed the other to remind him.
- Beware of Transitions: Make sure the way one team member passes the floor to the others is smooth, and not noticeable. Don’t let the delegates feel that this is X’s part, and this is Y’s part.
- Manage your distribution on the floor. Meaning, if two members are standing in the front, the other two should be in the back, and vice versa.
- Have a dynamics meeting after every session.
Coming up is an article series covering team dynamics for MUN secretariats.
But for now, go to secret #4 here