10 Steps to prepare for your first MUN conference
Many of you ask us, “How should I prepare for a MUN if it’s my first time?” Your first MUN conference can seem overwhelming. There are lots of things to read and research to do be done and you might not know much about the UN. We are happy to let you know that Model UN is not that complicated once you get the hang of it. These 10 steps will help you give you will give you what you need to survive, and thrive at your first Model United Nations conference.
Understand What is MUN?
- Before you start researching, reading and preparing you need to do is understand how MUN works.
- Each delegate represents a country in a UN committee to discuss an important global issue. Information about the said issue is provided by the conference in a Study Guide.
- Debate your ideas and practical solutions together with the other delegates in the committee.
- Combine your ideas with others in a document called a Draft Resolutions. Multiple drafts can be created by different groupings (blocks) of countries.
- Vote on the Draft Resolutions in the committee. A resolution needs a majority to be passed.
Learn the Basics About Your Country
Before you read the Study Guide / Background Guide the conference provides, it’s best to learn a bit about the country you will be representing to get over any natural biases you might have. Try to keep an open your mind towards the country you will be representing.
Things you should look up about your country:
- Land – Find your country on a map. Check out your size, terrain and neighbors.
- Politics – Check if you’re a democracy, a pseudo-democracy or an authoritarian power. If a democracy, check with party is in power.
- Data – Population size, main languages, demographic breakdown and wealth, usually by looking at the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).
- News – Glance at the news and see what your country has been up to most recently.
Doing this research will help you come up with valuable ideas when you read the Study Guide.
Read the Study Guide
The Study Guide (sometimes referred to as a Background Guide or Issue Summary) is where you will get the basic important information about the topic your MUN committee will be discussing. When you finish reading the guide you should have a basic understanding of the topic and what you are expected to debate.
(If your guide sucks, check out our guide on what to do with your MUN study guide sucks).
The Study Guide should give you:
- General background about the topic
- Current issues relating to the topic
- Relevant numbers and data (in good guides at least)
- Information about your UN committee
- Block positions (not in every guide)
- Guiding questions (not in every guide)
- Further reading (not in every guide)
Study Guides are also important because they help you understand where the chairs want the debate to go. Now that you understand the topic you will be discussing, it’s time to fill in the blanks about your country.
Learn About your Committee
This should be covered in your Study Guide. If it wasn’t, now is the time to learn about your committee. A quick glance at the Wikipedia page should give you context.
You want to get a basic idea of:
- Objectives of the committee
- Current committee activities
- Past actions of the committee
Knowing your MUN committee mandate will help you understand what your committee can do and what it cannot. This will be helpful when the time comes to write practical ideas
Research your Countries Position
To understand your countries position, you will need to look at the news to get an idea of what policies your country would implement.
For example, if you are representing Spain, you may what to look into things like… Did Spain ever send aid workers to natural disasters? Does Spain contribute to global anti-virus efforts?
The answers to those questions will help you know where your country stands, even if there is nothing directly written about your countries connection to the topic you will be discussing.
The reason you should search like this is due to the fact you will not always find exactly what you’re looking for when you Google your country + topic.
For example, if you search for “Spain policy on the flooding in Sri Lanka” or “Spain Zika Virus” you’re likely to come up with nothing.
There are three reasons for this:
- Most countries don’t publish their information in English
- Politicians don’t like to make committing statements
- Your country has no direct relation to the topic
This is why you should broaden your search terms and try to get a richer overview of your country so you will have a more well-rounded pool of information to work from.
If after all this you still find nothing about yourself, look at your neighboring countries, or countries similar to you. See how they deal with the issue. Sometimes a well-educated guess is all you will get if your country seems to be unrelated to the topic being discussed. Luckily, when there is little information, it is often more than enough.
Find The Opening Speech Speaker Time
Now it’s time to get ready to write our first speech. Most conferences require a mandatory Opening Speech for every delegate. At conferences without opening speeches, the first speech you give will serve a similar function.
The opening speech is usually 60 seconds. To make sure, take a look at the Rules of Procedure to see what the opening speaker time is at the conference you will be attending sometimes it could be a bit tricky since the conference may let the chairs decide how long the opening speech will be. It is usually between 60-90 seconds but can go as low as 30 and as high as 120.
If you can’t find a clear-cut answer its a good idea to email the MUN conference directly and ask them how long you will have for opening speeches.
Write Your Opening Speech
Your first speech should give a general impression of your countries view of the topic and ideas to solve the problems your committee is discussing. In your speech should include facts and practical policies to solve the problem. Your solution should be in line with your countries interests.
To take your opening speech to the next level check out our How to Write a MUN speech bible. In the MUN speech Bible, we teach the Clash, Information, Call to Action (CIA) method of speechwriting, a serious game changer when it comes to MUN speechwriting.
Learn the Rules of Procedure
When it comes to flow the flow of a MUN simulation, here is what you need to know.
3 Modes of a MUN Debate Simplified
General Speaker’s List – Default speech platform. Anyone can talk about anything and can yield time.
Moderated Caucus – Faster discussion on a subtopic voted to be discussed by a majority of the committee.
Unmoderated Caucus – Lobbying time. Everyone gets out of their seats and speaks one on one / in a group. Resolutions are written during this time as well.
This should be enough to get you started but to learn more check out our article on MUN Rule of Procedures.
How to Write a Resolution
MUN Draft Resolution Clauses Simplified
Preambulatory Clause – Clauses explaining why we are doing it.
Operative Clause – Clauses explaining what we plan to do. Operative clauses are instructions which should be clear, concise and written using emotionless language.
You can check out more about how this should be done in our article about how to write a MUN Resolution
Have an Open Mind
If it’s your first MUN, I am happy to let you know that after reading this short guide (and followed the steps we laid out) you probably did more research and preparation than most other first-time MUNers : ) and one significant step closer to winning Best Delegate.
MUN is a lot of fun and when you come prepared you are setting yourself up to enjoy the conference that much more. This is because you will have an idea where things are going and how to achieve your desired result. Go out and enjoy your first MUN conference to the fullest. You should also enjoy the sites, the socials and make new friends.
There you have it. Once you finish your first conference your eyes will be open to the world of MUN. Moving forward, know that all aspects of our 10 points are just scratching the surface and all of them can be improved upon.
If you have any MUN questions along the way feel free to reach out to the HelpMyMUN team to help you take your MUN to the next level.