This article was provided by Yousef Aly, Undersecretary General for Administration for HenMUN III, hosted by the University of Delaware. For more information, visit HenMUN’s website.
Standing out in committee is at the forefront of all competitive delegates minds as they pursue awards at conferences. Strategies often vary, however, with some delegates preferring to use nuanced, craftier strategies, while others prefer to dominate committee by being verbose and commanding. Both strategies can work for delegates who tailor their style to their personal characteristics, but even then, it can sometimes be hard to stand out.
As a delegate, I was neither the most bombastic nor the best note-passer. I was caught in between the two typical delegate strategies and often felt like I wasn’t standing out because of that. I was confident in my research, speaking ability, and resolution writing, but I still needed something more to put me over the top to become a consistent award winner. Going into my junior year at a high school that was very well ranked in the MUN world, I wanted to reach my debating potential in the hopes that I would be elected president of our club. I set my sights on winning consistently that year so that the delegation as a whole could see my commitment.
At our biggest conference that year, my breakthrough finally came. I was representing France in the Alliance of Civilizations committee as we debated Hijab bans, most notably in France itself. This policy alienated me from the majority of the committee, and therefore I was forced to work in a smaller group. Originally, I felt as though I was at a disadvantage, as everyone was visibly attacking the French policy on the matter. After realizing that only a few nations shared the French point of view, I was left with little choice but to work within that small bloc.
As it turns out, however, working in that small group was the best thing for both my confidence and my ability to distinguish myself in committee. I was able to get my points across in the bloc I was working with, meaning that the resolution we drafted was almost entirely ideas that I introduced in committee. Additionally, by working in this smaller group, it allowed me to be one of the more vocal members, and people then saw me as a leader in committee.
At awards ceremony, I sat anxiously awaiting the outcome of the weekend. My dais finally began to announce the committee awards, and I was delighted to come away with the gavel. As we left, I began to assess my performance, and realized that I stood out in this committee, as opposed to those in my previous conferences, because I took advantage of the fact that I had a smaller bloc and was not forced to be a small fish in a big pond.
From that moment, I began to use this strategy in all my committees, and it was a resounding success. As opposed to simply grouping up with delegates whose policies matched mine, regardless of the bloc size, I instead gathered a few of those delegates, and began a focus-group approach. Not only were we able to differentiate ourselves and stand out before inevitably merging with our larger policy bloc, but we were much more effective in coming up with ideas as everyone was civil and cooperative, something that is often hard to find in tense unmoderated caucuses. As the leader of this smaller bloc, I also often got recognition and more respect from my more vocal peers, which allowed me to dictate terms during our working paper mergers.
I now serve as the Under-Secretary-General for Administration for the third iteration of HenMUN, the University of Delaware’s flagship high school model United Nations conference. I now see that HenMUN is a perfect place for delegates to hone this tactic, as we are a competitive conference with medium sized committees – big enough for distinguished blocs to form, but small enough where no one feels overpowered. When it comes to giving out awards, I also feel that this strategy is absolutely beneficial to those who are seeking gavels. Our chairs often look for leaders in committee, along with people who display diplomacy, are respectful of one another, have a very good understanding of policy, and who write and speak well. Using this strategy is a surefire way of ensuring you don’t fall by the wayside while committee evolves, and it will help you go from a good delegate to a consistently excellent one.