Dealing with Failure in the MUN World

The European International Model United Nations

By Thomas Veenstra, Treasurer 2020 / 2021

Distinguished delegates,

We stand at the precipice of the first online GrunnMUN. While it will no doubt be a challenge to provide a quality online MUN experience, I assure you that from our end we will do our utmost to deliver. Yet, as one might expect, it is not what we had planned or hoped for back in September. We were working toward a physical GrunnMUN for some time already, and it felt defeating to have to switch to an online alternative. This week, I will be writing about failure in MUN and how to deal with it.

While attending an MUN conference, everyone will have experienced a moment where their heart was beating faster, they got hot around their head, and stumbled over their words. They were out of their league, or things just didn’t work out the way they expected they would. It is natural. To quote the ever-great Ray of TPB: “it’s the way she goes.” Your unmod doesn’t go the way you want it to, people barely talk to you, or another country has made a fiery tirade against your argument. With an online conference, other things can go wrong too; your connection, microphone, or video going awry can make the pre-MUN nervousness worse than usual. Yet, do not worry.

Most of the mistakes that take over your mind are not as impactful as our brains make them out to be. Everything can be fixed, and you can rebut your opponent or restart your router. You may even be able to turn that frown upside down!

At one of the conferences that I attended, there was a delegate who seemed unsettled by his first conference. His country wasn’t all that important in his eyes, and he was worried about whether his opening speech had made enough impact. During the first day of the conference, he got increasingly more quiet, to the point he seemed to not enjoy himself anymore. Yet, after lunch, he seemed reinvigorated, and banded together with the other smaller nations. He made himself important and impactful for the success of the council – and genuinely seemed to enjoy himself more. It turns out that during lunch, the delegate found it much easier to approach and negotiate. As such, he found a way to be active, got invested in the issue, and fixed his conference.

You will – or already have – faced difficult situations during your MUN experiences. You can do a number of things to minimise failure, or deal with it during your conference. Already during preparation can you look for like-minded countries, know your case (and your arguments) better than your fellow delegates, and find your narrative. Your narrative is your focal point, and highlights what you want out of the resolution. This will allow other countries to know what you want, and be convincing in doing so. Finally, you can prepare for both moderated and unmoderated caucuses by delving into your topic and highlighting controversies you find.

In essence, its quite straightforward. Don’t panic, try to curb your anxiety, and adapt to the situation. You can take steps to focus attention onto you. Be proactive in making allies and setting the agenda. And if things still do not work out the way you want them to, try to band together with other countries, speak as much as you can, or try again at your next conference!
Looking forward to seeing you at GrunnMUN,

Your Treasurer