When one thinks of a MUN delegate, an image of an aspiring diplomat wannabe comes to mind (as it should). MUN is the activity of choice for those interested in global politics, global economics, and how to solve global problems. It is nothing one would associate with the profession of a car dealer – until you actually fill in the boots of a delegate and face the competition of determined, gavel-seeking opponents in a committee. Then the academic side of MUN retracts, and what emerges may sometimes resemble a market more so than an actual gathering of world leaders.
In other words, when you are going for the gavel, it is not all about your binder and your political theory knowledge. It is also and very much about how you ‘sell’ your product (both yourself, as a partner, and your resolution). Selling, in this case, is getting people to join you and your work. This article will focus precisely on that.
One should keep in mind that I largely disregard the fact that MUN should send a message of the importance of cooperation, agreements between nations, and other utopian notions. What I experienced throughout my MUN career in the US (albeit it was a short one), is what I came to believe real politics look like to: it is an all-out fight for the best position possible in a complete anarchy that the international political scene is. This article will try to analyze how best to adapt to this version of MUN, rather than the milder one.
Step 1: getting people to join you
I cannot say I am an expert on car dealers, but what my limited experience has shown, they possess this strange ability of becoming more than mere service providers – they also become buddies of the customer.
Several of tricks they use are really straightforward – and that is their beauty.
- They immediately recognize what kind of a person they are.
- They deduce your goals, values, and wants as a customer even before you admit that you do indeed ‘seek a hybrid car because you are pro-environment’.
- They are (usually) quite frank in their approach to the customers: rather than being strictly professional and bothering a potential buyer with technical details of the car, they go straight to the point – that ‘if you want a car that will feel like you’re one step closer to being Richard Branson, this one is for you’.
Following the example of our car dealer, we can apply the same techniques of approaching people in a committee.
On the first point: a win-seeking delegate must immediately recognize the key people in the committee, and approach them whenever you do. There, at least to my experience, frankness is the best approach. If you make clear the fact that you all aim at the same gavel, but in order to do that, either cooperation or professional competition is necessary, you may win a strong partner, or at least earn the respect of the top-notch delegates. Not only does that increase the chances of actually taking the silverware home, but it also guarantees a pleasant experience for you (and other delegates) throughout the conference.
On the second: as soon as you get to know that some delegates value empirical evidences more than political principles (and vice versa), funny jokes over heart-breaking rhetoric, and so on, you can boost your appeal with individual delegates much more efficiently. So explore the pool of people you are in during the un-moderated caucus to become the star of the committee with the delegates.
Step 2: getting people to join your resolution
The next step is to make others like you not only as a guy/gal, but also as a delegate capable of delivering. To sway people to join your resolution, you can again trust the ‘car dealer approach’. One of my favorite, puzzling, and ingenious examples of convincing people of how amazing the car they are considering to purchase is … swearing. No, I am not encouraging you to actually swear during your speakers list speeches (or to use really foul language) – but strongly expressing your opinion about your resolution may do wonders. That is because it adds some sincerity to your words: you are all behind your work, and people see it.
To finish it up, of course, certain level of professionalism is mandatory: but the delivery of your knowledge in the field matters just as much. Things you should consider: present your resolution as if it were to bring multi-level benefits (‘1st: it gets the job done, 2nd: it is cheap; 3rd: it does not limit the state’s sovereignty, etc.’). Mirror this with how car dealers layer one reason to buy the car with another, and yet another (‘1st: it is fuel-efficient; 2nd: it has the ‘tough-guy’ exterior, while it is very cozy inside! 3rd: did I mention the stereo system?’). It may prove completely useless, but it may just add this additional bit of professional insight that may make you the leader of the committee.
All the ideas I put forward helped me a lot during my MUN career. If you find these silly, it is perfectly understandable, but remember to keep your mind open when trying to find the ‘winning approach’ to MUN – sometimes being an approachable pal may work just as well as having memorized the works of Henry Kissinger!