It is not enough to know how to ask good questions, you also need to know how to answer questions properly! Just as there are strategies to ask questions in MUN, there are also strategies to answer such questions. The following guide will teach how to answer the different types of Model United Nations question you can encounter quickly, strategically and effectively.
Introduction to Asking Questions in MUN
In Model United Nations, a question can come at any time. Questions can be asked as part of a speech, during General Speakers List (GSL) or moderated caucus speech. Stand-alone questions can be asked as a Point of Information or while on a panel of authors. In all of these cases, your answers, or lack thereof, could reflect poorly on you, or your entire block.
If you are not properly prepared to answer a question when you are put on the stop this could reflect poorly on you as a delegate, or your entire block. This guide will help you come prepared so you have the tools to answer your next MUN question effectively.
When answering a question, always be sure to:
- Answer the actual question
- Answer as quickly as possible to the fullest
- Bring the focus back to yourself
- Minimally engage with parts that either
- Don’t strengthen your case
- Refute the other side
4 Rules for Answering MUN Questions
1. Answer the Actual Question
Failing to answer a question will be noticed and remembered. Unless there is a better reason to completely avoid answering, try to at least give a partial answer. That should be enough to not be seen as someone who does not know the answer or cannot defend their policy.
2. Answer Quickly and Completely – to the best of your ability
While you are answering a question it is about the person asking, and not about yourself. To move on, take advantage of the new speakers’ time. Try to get them to finish as quickly as possible. It goes without saying that you should only do this if you finished answering their question already. Hard questions should get more time, as fully answering them will serve you better than partially answering. If possible, try to answer with a combination of facts and logic.
3. Bring the Focus Back to Yourself
Once answered, spend the rest of the time developing your case, and repeating your important points. If you are answering a Question to Support, your answer should be about your block. If it is a Question to Challenge, it is likely that your case will need strengthening. If it is a Question to Waste Time, saying the question is irrelevant, or giving a token answer is sufficient, before getting back to what is important. In all cases, the important part is making sure that your ideas are fresh in everyone’s minds by the time your answer is finished.
4. Minimally Engage with Parts That Don’t Help You
Be strategic. If the answer to the question does not strengthen your case, or refute the other side, you should give it as little time as possible. This is easier to do when a delegate asks you multiple questions in one POI. In such cases, you can choose where to focus and where to engage. Remember that the answer time is yours – so use it to your advantage.
6 Types of Answers to MUN Questions
1 – The Direct Answer
A direct and factual answer is especially good for Questions to Clarify and Questions to Support, but can be used for all types of questions when relevant. This does not mean your answer cannot be strategic, or that you must confess your motives, it simply means that actually answering the question will serve you better than an attempt at diversion. Try to use this type of answer when your opponents are challenging you, as it is the most concrete way to defend your resolution.
2 – Calling Out of Context
Especially for Questions to Waste Time, calling out the question on irrelevance can be a legitimate tactic. However, sometimes it is just as effective to pretend the question was better than it was. In such cases, it is suggested to reword it, answer it quickly, and bring the focus back to yourself.
3 – Partial Answer and Pivot
Especially when asked two or more questions, sometimes choosing the most convenient one and answering it can be the most effective. In these cases, answer enough to be considered a legitimate answer, and move on to what you want to discuss.
4 – Stalling
Sometimes the question you are asked required research or more time to put together a position. In these cases, giving an unclear answer, or answer which contains a question in it, might be the best option while collecting your thoughts. If possible, you can give a better answer later.
5 – Side Stepping
Politicians are especially associated with the trait of avoiding direct answers. When asked a difficult question that would have a negative answer, avoidance can be a useful tactic. This can be done by asking a different question within the speech and answering it yourself. Another option is to draw attention to a positive aspect of the topic. Convincing Model UNers with this method rarely works, but if the real answer is incriminating this may be the best option.
6 – Refusing to Answer
When all else fails, sometimes you may have to simply refuse to answer. This is extremely rare at a MUN conference, but sometimes the best option may be simply saying, “I am not answering”.
Answering questions effectively does not become second nature overnight. Improving your answering skills will take time, and you should accept that not every answer will be perfect. As seen in our article on asking questions in MUN, a good question will usually have a purpose behind it. While doing your best to answer a question, remember that most questions do not have completely right answers. You also might not have enough time to answer every part of the question in one speech.
Part of being a MUNer is thinking on your feet. Know what questions are coming and that those questions will need answers. Stand strong and answer those questions as best as you can (except for when you choose not to answer at all). Even an imperfect answer can go a long way towards achieving your block’s goals. Knowing how to answer questions can be really useful in the life we live outside of MUN as well!