Crisis 101: 5 Strategies for the Crisis Newbie

by Mari on October 22, 2012

Since the National Collegiate Security Conference (NCSC), Georgetown University’s collegiate conference, is less than 72 hours away from being gaveled into session we here at Best Delegate have been discussing some of the advice we would give to delegates new to the crisis committee-style of MUN.  So here, without further ado, 5 Strategies for the Crisis Newbie:

Delegates debate during the USNSC at NCSC XXXIX.

1. Learn your character inside and out. This may sound fairly obvious, but knowing the nuances of your character makes the committee more realistic, and therefore much more fun.  If he/she has quirky catchphrases or quotes, don’t be afraid to occasionally use one (ala a classic Joe Biden “literally”).  More importantly, make sure to research his/her portfolio powers so you don’t find yourself asking the Crisis team for something that your character clearly cannot/should not do.

2. Remember that crises are dynamic.  It can be difficult to balance, but maintaining an idea of the theme of the committee while still keeping your speeches relavent to the crisis in front of you is key to winning a crisis committee.  By keeping both of these things in mind while speaking, you’ll have a better chance of being the delegate who guides the flow of debate because the Chair should recognize that you are focused on the big picture and what’s happening in the room.  When speaking, try not to reference other people in the room; you want the chair to realize your capability of contributing new ideas to the committee even if they are similar or agree with something someone else said.

3. Work with the Crisis team; not against it.  Send a lot of notes at the beginning to feel out what direction they are looking to take the committee; don’t break character and ask, but keeping in character you can still ask questions. This will help you figure out the pacing with which the team responds to notes which will aid you in gauging the flow of committee.  It’s very easy to get frustrated when the crisis team doesn’t pick up on your ideas in notes you send them, but do not get discouraged. An alternative option would be to ask more questions about what the Crisis team seemed to be hinting at and building a new story arch for the committee.

4. Keep your writing focused. Resolutions in crisis committees are called directives, and are written just as operative clauses. No preambs are necessary. They’re usually short and have about 1/2 to 2/3 of the committee as signatories. They are much easier to pass than resolutions, so you will be writing a lot of them over the course of the weekend. This is the way that your committee will formally communicate with the fictional outside world. Another way is through the communique, which can be sent without a vote; all that’s usually necessary are 2/3 of the committee as signatories.

5. Be the ultimate multitasker.  It sounds impossible, but multitaskers always win in Model UN, especially in a crisis committee.  You’ll immediately notice that the level of intensity and pace of the committee is much higher and faster than a General Assembly or Specialized committee.  Don’t panic; you’ll get into a rhythm and pick things up quickly.  An old head delegate of mine once told me to keep my left hand raised in the air with my placard and my right hand either writing a note to someone in the committee room, to crisis, or working on a directive. Because a committee like this is so small, it becomes very easy to determine who’s making moves and who has fallen behind.  If you feel like you’re contributing substantively to debate, chances are other people think so too.

Here are more crisis articles from our Crisis Committees series:


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