Types of MUN Chairs and How to Deal With Them

Chairs in MUN come in all shapes and sizes.

Chairs also have very different styles of chairing and MUN which can strongly impact your experience as a delegate. This is why, as a delegate, you need to adapt what you do to best “deal with/work with” the unique characteristics of your MUN chairs. 

We will be focusing on the delegate’s perspective of dealing with all sorts of types of MUN Chairs, that being said this will also be useful for a co-chair or MUN conference organizers.

Before going into the different types of chairs we want to stress that chairs are people, with all the great and not so great things that come with it. The MUN chair types described below reflect archetypes of chairing styles and the chairs you encounter can be mixed and matched between them. Use your imagination to fill in the gaps. 🙂

Furthermore, some conferences come with their own culture and norms, which can also impact the chairing style.

Finally, “dealing” with the different types of chairs can mean many different things:

  • “How to get noticed as a delegate”
  • “What your chair looks for in awards” 
  • “How to avoid getting on a chair’s bad side”

What is important to note here is “dealing” with chairs is a vague term which will change depending on the characteristics and personality of each chair personally.  

Tardy MUN Chairs

There are two different types of chairs that always seem to be a bit tardy to MUN committees. Both may be Tardy for different reasons, still none the less that could be a common denomination to keep on the lookout for.
For whatever reason this type of MUN Chair is not paying enough attention to show up to committee on time… or maybe to anything on time since they always seem to be distanced.

Tech Distracted 

How do you identify a Tech Distracted MUN Chair?

  • Your chair is always on their phone, or a computer screen, instead of focussing on debate
    (Aside from running MUN software or taking notes on a laptop)
  • Giggling occasionally because of some meme or joke on the chairs/organisers group chat
  • Forgetful of what is happening in MUN Committee
  • During unmods often staying in their seat and are glued to their phone/laptop

How do you deal with a Tech Distracted MUN Chair?

  • Give louder and more dramatic speeches this will help break their focus and give them something to look up and see
  • Raise a “Point of Order” when your chair forget the ROP, this is a a helpful way to push the committee  to run smoothly and give every a better MUN experience
  • Assume a active yet dominant  role as a delegate to make up for the lack of chairing oversight
  • When you want to make sure the Tech Distracted Chair knows what is going on in committee, go up to them and tell them directly. For example, “Chair, I am the sponsor of Draft Resolution 1.1”
ProsCons
Quality memes during debateDelegate and can feel unwatched or unwanted
Your Chair is up to date on all group chatsRarely knows what is going on in committee
Your Cair knows how to use a computer and has a high speed internet. Can come off as disrespectful to the delegates

Laid Back Surfer

Identifying a Laid Back Surfer MUN Chair:

  • Chilling brah, shows up to opening ceremony with a Surfboard 
  • Laid back and relaxed during committee, sometimes not taking notes at all
  • Not necessarily distracted but letting debate flow like a cool summer breeze
  • Not so active in committee or when questions are asked, providing vague answers

Dealing with a Laid Back Surfer MUN Chair:

  • See what they react to and seem to notice, tailor your delegating accordingly
  • Don’t have high expectations for them
  • When you want to make sure a Laid Back Surfer chair knows what is going on in committee, just tell them directly.
  • Use particularly memorable clauses to stand out in their mind, for example“ Yo Chairman, I am totally leading the best bloc with leading policies on tackling ocean pollution, with specific clauses on how ocean pollution specifically impacts surfers.”
  • Deal with debate as you normally do, but don’t slack, your chair may be laid back but  probably still paying attention
ProsCons
Nice atmosphere to debate, not too stressedMight be a tad too laid back to your liking
Doesn’t get involved unless has toDoesn’t get involved unless has to
Probably great during the MUN social eventsProbably late after the socials

Unsmooth sailing Chairs

The Nervous First-Timer and the Political Appointee can mean well and will sometimes do an excellent job. However, what they lack in experience, connection to the topic, investment in the topic and awareness of the RoP, can result in a less than smooth experience for delegates.

Nervous First-Timer

Identifying an Nervous First-Timer Chair?

  • Makes it clear it is their first time chairing, or makes it obvious with quiet voice and other visible signs of uncertainty
  • Perhaps not actively chairing as much and will be in the background but attentive throughout
  • Unused to ROPs, consulting them often and maybe confused sometimes with trickier parts of debate. Trying to be as correct during their time chairing

Dealing a Nervous First-Timer chair:

  • Be nice and give them time to get used to chairing (we’ve all been there as a chair)
  • Help your chair with RoPs when you can without being prescriptive, they’ll appreciate it
  • Do a good job during commute, be consistent and active as best you can
ProsCons
Usually quite accurate with ROPs because they consult them so muchMight be slow in delivering RoPs, might contradict RoP’s sometimes and might confuse delegates with lack of knowledge of certain substantive parts (Draft Resolutions for example)
Tries their best to be active in committeeMight shy away from stronger delegates with more experience
If treated well, they can add to a nice atmosphere in committee, especially with an active co-chairWith no active co-chair committee, can not manage committee well and/or miss important moments

Political Appointee

Identifying a Political Appointee MUNChair

  • The Political Appointee char is often not very connected with the committee or topic, sometimes only put into the dias at the last minute, and usually has an in with the MUN society, or a friend on the organizing team
  • Often meeting other Chairs or organizers during committee or unmods
  • Simple enough chairing during committee but light on the ROPs and the debate
  • Political Appointee can be synonymous with Last Minute Replacement

Dealing with a  Political Appointee Chair

  • Be consistently active is your best bet here
  • Ask them for their stories, especially during the socials, they’ll like it
  • Act as normal and don’t overly pressure them for their lack of knowledge
ProsCons
Relaxed and not nitpickyCan be annoying having a chair not designed, knowledgeable or working for the committee
Often competent at the basics of chairingLacking some of the deeper insights (might not have read the study guide)
Usually good fun and nice social part of the conferenceMight get confused with the tougher RoPs, such as at the end of committee

Model Chairs

While their styles differ, the Quantifier, Engaged and Teacher can all be excellent chairs to have. With different strengths, they all have the potential to see, evaluate and reward you being your best MUN self.

Quantifier

Identifying a Quantifier chair:

Quantifier MUN Chairs
  • Pouring over a spreadsheet, where they take their chairing notes, the whole time trying to quantify every speech and note into a number-crunching exercise
  • Very attentive to the committee as a whole and quite attentive to feedback
  • Sometimes feels like they are being sucked into the laptop screen rather than into debate

Dealing with a Quantifier chair:

  • Look at when they take notes on speeches to see what gets their attention
  • Ask during committee for feedback and what they are looking for from delegates (Such a chair might refuse to give feedback until the end of committee)
    • When you get feedback, make sure to take action
    • If the chair will not give you feedback , be aware of the spotlight effect
  • They document everything, your chair will fact check. Make sure you have plenty to say and your speeches are of substance 
  • if your chair doesn’t share they MUN delegate scoring  methodology, don’t get stressed and just do your best as the amazing delegate you are
ProsCons
Usually on top of what’s happening in committee and also structured running the committee wellSometimes influences the wrong items and can confuse as quantifying everything is hard to define in debate
Has a system for feedback and allows for attentive focus in committeeCan have problematic categories of quantification which  don’t relate to the committee or debat, valuable data and important moments can be lost, especially during unmods
Has justification for awards and detailed feedback on the pros and cons of your delegatingCan reward awards for arbitrary “tickboxing” 

Engaged 

Identifying a Engaged MUN Chair:

  • Attentive to committee and only offering comments when warranted. (Usually very aware of what is going on, especially during unmods.)
  • Good background of information on the committee and positions, might be frustrated when delegates go outside of position often (and will likely correct in an unmod)
  • Willing to give good feedback and elaborate on points the committee required

Dealing with a Engaged MUN Chair:

  • Use their engagement to your advantage, clarify points when needed that might boost or impact committee, i.e on specific parts of the debate
  • Make sure to be as engaged as them and show that you are taking onboard their comments
  • Don’t abuse their engagement too much, your focus should be on debate rather than them. 
ProsCons
Excellent understanding of committee and RoPsCan feel a little overwhelming, especially if they notice your “off time”
Good background knowledge to fill in gaps of committeeMight comment a lot and not let the committee themselves tackle difficult issues themselves
Model MUN chair in many cases, often with experience of different styles of MUNCan confuse delegates sometimes with conflicting or limited information (to avoid over explaining)

Teacher

Identifying a Teacher MUN Chair:

  • Acts like a teacher, coaching delegates throughout
  • Very explanatory and helps all delegates no matter that their experience level
  • Kind throughout debate and creates a nice learning atmosphere

Dealing with a Teacher MUN Chair:

  • Ask questions whenever you want and go to them if you have any specifics or want to ask on behalf of another delegate
  • Actively apply their comments during debate 
  • Being active and cooperation with other delegates will be best, not too competitive or “power delegate” like
ProsCons
Informative and helps all delegatesSometimes rather light on conference specific ROPs
Knows a lot about the topic, RoPTakes some of the debate out of the delegates hands by adding so much info
Overall positive atmospherePossibly harder to be a power delegate

Annoying Chairs

The following chairs can be seen as annoying to many delegates. However, their annoying style does not mean that they are not fair, attentive or well meaning. These types of the Stickler, Fake Celebrity and the Half-Delegate.

Stickler

Identifying a Stickler MUN Chair:

  • In one word, Strict. Sticklers are overly specific on the Rules of Procedure, debate or any informal rules that exist and make this clear with interjections during debate
  • They are likely to go on tirades about Rules, dress-code or other seemingly small parts of the committee rather than the content delegates bring or the delegates experience itself
  • Seem to not notice what is happening in the committee besides following rules and correct procedure
  • In a limited way, the Stickler might be quite laid back and only interject in serious situations, but to an extreme they might be almost mean in their interruptions and  handling of the committee procedure

Dealing with a Stickler MUN Chair:

  • Know those RoPs like the back of your hand and follow them to a T
  • Never forget to speak in third person
  • Make sure the statements you make are valid, avoid hyperbole and stick to facts
  • If you notice others getting the procedure wrong, highlighting this in a nice way to get the chairs attention and be noticed by the dias
ProsCons
Attentive to the committee and engaged in debateRoP drive interruptions can be distracting for delegates and suck the fun out of debate, especially for delegates who “get” MUN and feel it’s about much more than rules
Knows the RoPs to a tee and willing to defend themSometimes only has “their” RoPs and uses chairs discretion too much
Easy and simple chairing style for most to adoptRepetitive and can clash easily with co-chairs

Fake Celebrity

Identifying a Celebrity MUN Chair:

  • Brings up their own conference experience and will seem a little or very arrogant for it
  • Constantly telling their own stories whether asked to or not
  • Fake-celebrity then probably trying to justify their own discretionary actions with their own “experience”
  • (A real celebrity chair will usually not talk about themselves and usually just be a nice chair with a reputation created by good conduct/quality chairing/other over multiple conferences)

Dealing with a Celebrity MUN Chair:

  • Try to ignore their bravado, it comes from a place of insecurity (talking from experience here) but laugh along anyway
  • Be a good-natured delegate and try not to suck up too much
  • As always, stay active throughout debate
ProsCons
Some nice storiesArrogant at times 
Good experience of various debate and conferencesNot always relevant to committee
A need to show expertiseCan double down on incorrect actions to justify decisions
Useful for future conferences to stay in touchMight also be useless for getting involved with future conferences

Half-Delegate

Identifying a Half-Delegate MUN Chair:

  • Always using chairs discretion like it is going out of fashion
  • Recommends and announces motions and caucuses without voting
  • Will get annoying for the delegates, especially experienced ones

Dealing with a Half-Delegate MUN Chair:

  • Do your best with the hand given, don’t get too angry when they fail or sideline your initiatives
  • Learn to adapt to random motions being called, and unmods, when they happen
  • Adapt your position and policy to the direction they clearly want to debate to go in
  • Appeal to secretariat if it gets too bad, or co-chair too, and remember to point of order if things go wrong in-committee
ProsCons
Can speed up debate quite quicklyVery annoying for delegates who feel like they have little control
Can get the committee on topic if they go offAgainst chairs role in a committee

Bad Apple Chairs

While some chairs can be annoying or petty, there are some whose chairing style can be outright toxic and make the MUN conference a very unenjoyable experience. Where your chair is support, patience and understanding are not the steps to take.

Corrupt

Identifying a Corrupt MUN Chair:

  • Giving private coaching to certain delegates
  • Showing a clear preference to delegates from their group or team
  • Blatantly preferencing certain delegates to speak and present in a purely biased form
  • Interactions as written above resulting in unfair advantage to certain delegates while giving a negative and toxic approach to chairing

Dealing with a Corrupt MUN Chair:

  • Report them
  • Report them
  • Report them
ProsCons
NoneMany

Conclusion

As you can see, the different types of chairs require different types of action form the delegates, other chairs and conference organizers.

That said, there can be room for consideration for some of the chairs. Often, a chair’s attitude is influenced by the chairs that chaired them, and reinforced by conferences or training from across their MUN career. Unlike how delegates function though, chairing styles can change more rapidly within a committee and thus are harder to understand at all moments. For example, at the beginning of the committee some chairs will be more strict, but relax as debate goes on, only to become more engaged at the conclusion. Whatever the chair type, the constant is that you are being chaired by this person for your conference and, unless it is the most extreme of cases, you should do your best to make the most of it.

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