Debate Dos and Don’ts

So you have returned to learn more about what I think you should not do in order to be successful in MUN. In this saucy little article, we will be discussing debate. Debate is truly the heart of Model UN. Crisis is very much secondary, for a good arc does not an award make. Your chair will only see your debate and only hear your arc secondhand. While you may influence a room behind the scenes in crisis, the real way to show prowess as a delegate is to debate eloquently and frequently. That’s not even to mention the fact that GA committees exist and debate is your only option. Here are some tips and tricks we at MUN01 would recommend to hone in on your debate skills to really drive your award potential home.

Do: Plan out an opening speech

This is especially important in GAs, but if your crisis room does a round robin to start committee, it’s basically the same thing. Know what you are going to say. First impressions absolutely matter and will set the tone for how you will be seen as a delegate. Don’t risk the possibility of stammering over your words and looking unprepared. Have your talking points based around your research and give a succinct speech which portrays the kind of delegate you would like to be seen as, be it aggressive, cooperative, knowledgeable, relatable, etc. Establish your brand in your opening speech, it’s important.

Don’t: Read a speech verbatim off paper

This is a big novice move in crisis committees. GAs are different and very often call for major written speeches. GA dels, write on and read those speeches with the power of a major world leader, loves ya. However, in crisis, this comes across as you being unable to think on your feet. Crisis is fast paced, and if you can only give major points in debate if you are writing down a speech beforehand, you need to practice. This is not shade! On-the-fly speaking come with time and experience. Wean yourself off of reading your speeches by limiting yourself to one or two word talking points, just so you can direct yourself.

Do: Stand by your position

You are here to represent a person or a country with defined beliefs and policies. Don’t let people sway you off of that. There are powerful and persuasive debaters out there who will try to change your mind and push you off position just to discredit you later. Don’t fall into those tactics. Stay to course and recognize that you are just as capable as them. Tip: if someone is being particularly aggressive in debate, odds are other people feel uncomfortable too. Band together and support one another, y’all can succeed I promise. 

Don’t: Yell

Omg. I have to go off on this one. DO NOT YELL IN COMMITTEE. If its a particularly heated speech and your volume increases once or twice, ok, sure. But yelling? Unnecessary. If you have to yell to have your point heard you are a weak debater. Its an intimidation tactic that needs to stop and it makes everyone else uncomfortable (and also gives people headaches). The root of Model UN is diplomacy and screaming at people is clearly not that. Please, be civil, speak in an appropriate tone.

Some others-

Do: Read the committee about standing for speeches, crisis is typically no and GA is sometimes yes

Don’t: Propose a one minute speaking time

Do: Only use the speaking time you need, don’t stretch speeches to the full time if not necessary

Don’t: Roll your eyes if the chair doesn’t call on you

Do: Avoid um’s and uhh’s. Pause to collect your thoughts instead.

Don’t: Waste a speech to speak off topic. Pay attention to what others are saying and don’t go off topic

Do: Speak often! As much as possible!

Don’t: Cross talk or interrupt. So rude and also against parli pro.

These are just some general tips, we are hoping to come out with a comprehensive debate guide soon. Til then, I hope this helps. Have fun, debate hard, and remember: don’t yell.

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