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How to Lead a Committee with Full of First-timers as a Chair by Öykü GÖKTUĞ

I remember a conference in which I had to lead a committee with 5 people which includes 3 delegates and 2 admins by myself without any chairs. In the very first session of the conference, my both deputy and president chair had something to do with their work which made me direct the committee by myself. That was quite achievable for me since I was an experienced one until I witnessed that they were only 3 delegates inside the committee. With the returns of serving as a deputy chair in the GA2-ECOFIN committee, they were 3 delegates left until the organization team announced that they were planning to hold MUN 101 for the first-timers. Eventually, 25 delegate commit turned to be 3+2+1 committee which includes delegates, admins and a chair, me.

You may contemplate that it is not that hard since they are several ice-breaking ideas to do. That was a life-saving solution for a time approximately 45 minutes yet, things didn’t go as intended as I wanted to be. By the time we were coming to an end with 3 delegates, first-timers arrived from their MUN 101 session and we, eventually, could found the change to start with the opening speeches. Since opening speeches are mandatory for all delegates while taking the roll call, everything was going as it has to be. Indeed, the lobbying session has become proof that it was not. As I divided the committee for 3 parts with the respect of agenda items and called the delegates to come up together and negotiate their researches by writing resolutions, an unexpected while also undesirable scene occurred. Experienced delegates already have done with their resolutions after one session while some were trying to download google doc. to their mobile phones. Both sides were not desirable since there were not any cooperative or finding solutions atmosphere acquirable. As a single student officer in the committee, I found the solution by pretending as a delegate who is willing to combine his/her country’s ideas with others to write effective resolutions. At the end of the day, was it an effective way to save the committee? Absolutely yes. With that being said, student officers should be encouraged to do whatever is needed to keep the committee alive even it takes to a delegate who needs to write resolutions or debate upon agenda items.

The human brain tends to give up easily and have distractibility after forcing it to achieve a happy ending. This system is also valid in the MUN conferences and committees. After long-lasting sessions, debates, and prolix stress, delegates are having difficulty understanding and catching what is going on. Naturally, speeches become invisible and motions are starting to raise by moving directly to the voting procedure. By bearing the fact that this is an expected situation, it is never wrong to give a break and turn the committee into a party session. By working hard and playing hard, even the fun sessions are 10 minutes, delegates would be more motivated and ready to debate even they are first-timers since they eventually become more confident delegates. Yet, this never meant to be that committees should be full of fun sessions. A student officer not only should direct the committee and be a reference for the agenda items, but also should educate delegates especially the first-timers. By following those procedures, the committee would not be specified as the first-timers’ committee even it is known to be.

Even leading a committee which is full of first-timers seems to be an easy and solvable issue, it may take caution and profession. It may take to act as a delegate or guidance to keep the committee alive. All in all, making the committee best and worst is in the hands of the student officers. For that reason, starting with the first-timers and learning how to come up with solutions by educating them would be the best step to start a chairing experience. Here are the fundamental ways to sustain the atmosphere at the committee.


Proper ice-breaker activities for the first session

Even ice-breaking usually seems like a cliche and mandatory event, it is neither obligatory nor indifferent as it supposed to. Especially when it comes to the committee, which is full of first-timers, ice-breakers play a vital role to make the committee alive throughout the four days. Since firs timers are not usually the most confident ones as it is expected, ice-breaking activities lead them to find their power and stand up to hear their voices. With that being said, there are some well-known activities in which all the committees almost make them in their first sessions:

Never have I Ever: Game starts with a random delegate’s statement ‘’Never have I ever done …’’. All the delegates are supposed to keep ten or five of their fingers up and eliminate them one by one if the given fact by a random delegate is made. All delegates have the right to state their facts at any time and the end of the game, the delegate whose at least one finder is kept still is the winner.

Soul Mate: A volunteered delegate steps to the floor and all the delegates in the committee standstill. A random person in the committee (that person can be a delegate, an admin, a press member or a chair) asks a comparison questions like ‘’coffee or tea?’’. According to the answer of the delegates answer the ones who felt the same with him/her standstill. While others sit down. In the end, the last one and the delegate who was called upon to the floor recognizes as a soul mates.

Two Facts and A Lie: This activity is the simplest one. All delegates accordingly state a lie and two facts as it can be understood from the name. Then, everyone in the committee tries to guess the fact and roll go on until everyone states their facts and lies.

After the ice-breaking session, it has been expected for several resolutions and maybe some position papers before or during the conference. Yet what if your committee is full of first-timers and they do not have any single idea what are they mean? As a committee director, a chair is not only responsible for sustain the efficiency of the committee but also responsible for the education and learning of MUN terms and essentials In such a limited time, it is not easy to teach how to write a position paper and resolution yet, it is never impossible.

How to teach first-timers to write effective resolutions and position papers in a limited time?

Since writing resolution is different from the position paper by cooperating with others and making a common product; a first-timer delegate primarily has to know how to collaborate and work together with his/her allies by discussing a common topic and also presenting his/her country’s policies. Even it is not possible to formulate how to cooperate with others, it should be briefly introduced by the chairs at the very beginning of the formal lobbying to at least providing to occur possible scenarios by the delegate. Afterward, it can deepen down by moving to the structure of the resolution. Chair board can project a sample resolution (a chair should give a sample by his/her resolutions to prevent the plagiarism) by teaching what does operative and perambulatory clauses mean and what kind of words are they supposed to use by listing them to the board. It is also essential to demonstrate the structure of sub-sub clauses and their names accordingly to the number and alphabet. Eventually, delegates should always be free to ask questions regarding the resolution to the chairs and directly continue with the formal lobbying session.

Teaching how to write an efficient position paper is not that different from teaching how to write a resolution even it is simpler. A chair can draw the structure of a position paper with the most common aspects and should tell the delegates how to act like a country’s representative while also be the most formal in writing. Both teachings on how to write a resolution and position paper should not exceed too much time and declared by the chair board since writing resolution is a long process on its own.

As I mentioned before, knowing how to write a resolution brings the knowledge of how to cooperate with other delegated in lobbying or un mod sessions. In fact, not always a lobbying or un mod session can go as expected which is completely sources by the manners of the chair board.

How to lead or monitor delegates during the lobbying session or unmoderated session?

Lobbying or unmod sessions are essentially pivotal for the products of the resolutions and interactions between delegates. For that reason, it is open to several problems like speaking Turkish, disobeying rules, discussing other things that are irrelevant to the conference. In circumstances like these, a chair should have been involved in the situation deliberately without being offensive to anyone since firs-timers may not have enough knowledge or courage to discuss UN topics. A chair can just involve the group and pretend as a random country to help them find new solutions and increase the interaction between delegates. Shouting or being offensive to any delegate was never seen as a cure since it mostly detracts the delegate away from the committee instead participating and pretending like one of them would be the best solution for the continuity of the committee.

There may be more advanced problems between delegates which is not always easy to solve. There may be some delegates who are arguing offensively to become the main submitter of the resolution which I witnessed at my first MUN conference. Thanks to my wise chair, the situation did not appeal as it was if the chair did not involve. He just wrote down the two delegates’ names to the board and voted them to the committee whether which one is more applicable for becoming the main submitter. In the end, the chaos comes up to an end with modern democracy which all chairs should follow the same solution as well to minimalize huge offensive interactions between delegates.

Possible Chairing Problems

To being aware of the fact that not always problems may encounter between delegates, the chair board can sometimes face with several problems each other which is not an abnormal situation if we considered that 3 persons are in interaction for more than 9 hours for four days. A chair sometimes would like to speak more than the others or see himself/herself upper from other chairs (this is never appropriate even he/she is the president chair since all the chairs are equal only the president chair has the right to tell the first and last word). My biggest advice for situations like them would be trying to overcome your problems by talking kindly without being offensive and effecting to the committee. At the end of the day, all the chair board is there for a common reason and all the problems can be solved with kind words and understanding manners to prevent the situation become worst in the shortest time.

By coming to my last words, I would suggest to the first-timer chairs than when you encounter to the committee in the morning and see your name with bold names in front of several delegates, your heard will beat faster even from the light, but like everything, this will pass as well. If you are chosen as a chair, never forget that there is a reason and you completely deserved it which means the conference believes in you. So there is no reason to panic and not believe in yourself. Be as natural as you can, do not become so strict while always declare the formality of the conference to the delegates. Always try to be a role model with you directing skills, advanced English level and fairness to the delegates to keep their MUN journey further brighter. At the end of the first chairing 9experiences, it is going to be addicted and you will find yourself attending all the conferences as a committee director even it is your most stressful exam week.


Good luck on your bright journey 🙂


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