At Best Delegate, Model UN advice is everywhere. Whether you participate in the MUN Institute
over summer, study our training articles, or familiarize yourself with all forums, there is never lack of opportunity to hone diplomatic skills. But what if you had the opportunity to ask Head Delegates of some of the most prestigious collegiate teams their own words of wisdom?
I asked a few top Head Delegates on the circuit the question, “what is the most important piece of advice you give to your teammates?” Here are their words of guidance:
On Success & Strategy
“The most important thing we try to teach our underclassmen is that it’s more fun (and quite frankly more effective) to build people up rather than tear them down. Everyone wants to work with someone who is legitimately listening to and helping build their ideas, and the best blocs are those in which everyone is contributing. Research should be used to develop solutions, not poke holes.” – Greg Adams, University of Chicago
“The biggest advice that I give is that preparation is the most important
thing.If you don’t know your country, topic, character, crisis arc, other countries, other characters, other potential crises, history of the committee or topic, current events of the committee or topic, and anything else you can think of then you will already be behind everyone else.” – David Berris, George Washington University
“Preparing before the conference looking up policy is just as important as executing that inside and outside of the committee. Speaking well, writing meaningful directives/resolutions are just as important as getting enough sleep during the conference. Success in my opinion is a complete package, you can’t succeed forever without both.” – Atif Jamal Ahmad, Rutgers University
“One of the skills we stress most to our team members is flexibility. Model UN is a dynamic activity, and, whether you’re in a crisis committee or a big GA, flexibility allows you to roll with the punches and adapt to whatever situation arises. Moreover, flexibility allows you to play to your individual strengths as a delegate, whether that is in developing crisis arcs, giving impassioned speeches, or building solid blocs. Finally, when all else fails, we remind our delegates to trust in their teammates. There are always upperclassmen who have more experience or specific subject area knowledge that are more than willing to help you through a tricky spot.” – Rohan Pidaparti, Harvard University
“I always advise my team to break outside the box of traditional research and instea use other resources available such as speaking directly to professors whom may be experts on a specific topic for a conference. Nonetheless, research tools that are also useful aside from published work on the internet are: documentaries, films, and printed books. The best approach to MUN strategy is to be quick, and aware at all times even when it is the last session of the day and everyone else seems to be giving up, consistent energy and engagement can go a long way.” – Jessica Brito, Florida International University
“Being prepared and skilled in research, public speaking, strategy, etcetera is all good, but much more important than giving a great speech or writing a great resolution, is just simply being great with people. Form genuine and deep connections with your peers, pay attention to them at all times, and try to bring them all together for a common goal with a common direction (ideally yours of course). This people skill will take more time and effort than all the others, and only you can train yourself for it just through experience, but if you can build it up then you won’t just naturally come out on top in Model UN for Crisis, Specialized Agencies and General Assemblies but also in life for politics, business and law.” – Manzar Akbar, McGill University
“I find my life has significantly improved by the way that the college Model UN community encourages genuine friendship in addition to healthy competition…. My advice would be the following: compete to your heart’s content, but also remember that at the end of the day, the things one learns through friendships and interactions with the incredible people on the college circuit will help you more in the long-run. I know that when I graduate, it will not be about the number of gavels I have. I will instead look back on college Model UN and remember the amazing people (both on my team and on the teams that I compete against) that I have been able to cultivate relationships with! Why else would I spend multiple four-day weekends per semester traveling?” – Natalie Fahlberg, Princeton University
“I’ve always told myself and people on my team that the best way to succeed in MUN is to be honest and enthusiastic. It’s easy to forget with the competition, but we all do Model UN because we love it– if you aren’t having fun, you’re probably doing something wrong.” – Mike Sliwinski, Georgetown University
‘’You can have all of the red pens, tie bars, and crisis maps in the world. However,if it would be unimaginable for me to be stuck in an airport with you for 5 hours on a layover then you’re neither the Best Leader or a munster (Which we all hate).” – Robert Hankins, New York University
“Now, having a background knowledge of world affairs and a passion for learning more is infinitely useful and borderline mandatory, but in crisis (as with much in life) it is the power of your personality and will to balance persuasion and sincere cooperation that wins the day. If you rely so much on your own knowledge, that you forget that your most important goal and asset is your interaction with other people, you will always lose. Rely on your personality, not your binder–at the end of the day.” – Jack Bagdadi, West Point Military Academy
“I think the best thing I’ve learned is to respect the people in your committee.
Everyone works hard and dedicates an enormous amount of time to participate. Remember that committee will end in 3 days but your relationships with other delegates will last at least your time in college (if not longer).” – Maddy Stanich, University of Chicago
When it comes to team performance, there is so much more than what meets the eye. Hours of conference preparation, weekly meetings, and – of course – research, consume delegates’ time and energy. As a Head Delegate myself, I’ve found training a learning process that should be built off of others. Conferences are the best sources of advancement, they are golden opportunities to absorb and imitate the talents of peers you admire. But often we forget to look to others with personal development. Any Head Delegate or seasoned MUN-er can agree there are not and never will be any ‘experts’ in Model UN, there is no plateau… you can only continue to improve from others.
We hope that you incorporate these few words of wisdom in future experiences! A big thank-you to all the Head Delegates who contributed to this article!