Imagine this. You’re excited for your committee assignment, you receive your position and your committee name, you look up your position name on your preferred search engine (you Google it, let’s be honest), and nothing comes up. Correction–you get results, but absolutely nothing useful. You have a sinking feeling and you realize, your position is made-up. Whether you’re in a futuristic committee, a committee so niche names aren’t available, or a crisis topic that needed extra positions to be invented, there are lots of reasons why a crisis position would be made-up by conference staffers. This guide will help you research to feel prepared regardless of your situation.
For made-up positions, the most important aspects of research will lie in understanding the world around you, your potential abilities, and your limitations.
There are a few things you should immediately do to establish the world around you.
You should first identify what time period your crisis committee is in. That means recognizing if the committee is set in the past, the present, or the future. It will make a difference how you research the position. To do this should immediately Google the start date, or at least the start year, of committee to look for important events that occurred during that time. Wikipedia typically has brief rundowns of big events if you just Google “Wikipedia [start year].” You want to pay specific attention to events that happened very close to the location that your committee is set in so you can keep an eye out for crisis updates you might encounter in the future and also events that happened previously to set the stage for what you will be debating in committee.
If you’re in a futuristic committee, you are going to be relying a lot more on the background guide. Looking up “2346” on Wikipedia as a start year isn’t going to work like it would in a historical or present day committee. Cross your fingers that your dais and staffers have created a comprehensive guide that gives you a good idea of the world you’re stepping into. Usually there will be a timeline of the fictional, futuristic events that have resulted in the current crisis. Read the guide carefully and pick up on the world that was created for you. Make note of the geopolitical setting, the invented history, and the major actors you will be encountering.
You also want to keep in mind what abilities you will gain from the time period you are in, and what limitations you might face. I’ll talk more about that later, but for now I’ll talk about your possibilities.
Understand your potential abilities.
Another thing that good background guides will give you, even if your position is invented, is a little bit of history about the invented position and potential resources you could draw on. Now obviously they’re not going to just hand you ideas for a crisis arc, but they may mention certain resources you have and then you can try to mold your arc around that. For instance if they say you own an olive garden, like an actual garden of olives, you can figure out how you would utilize that resource potentially in a crisis arc and you can also do further research on the importance of olive gardens in the setting you’re in and see if there’s any kind of ideas for crisis that come to you while you’re doing that research.
Another great tactic is to find people in history similar to your position. For example, if you’re an invented Soviet telecommunications CEO, go ahead and research several things. Look up Soviet policy at the time, specifically surrounding telecommunications, broadcasting, etc. Look up companies that you may be able to model yourself after and look up what kind of powers CEOs hold exactly. You may find similar people or organizations in history you can model yourself after!
Finally, you should understand your limitations.
An important aspect of committees is understanding your technological limitations. For instance, if you’re in a historical committee in the 1600s, obviously you can’t use cell phones or any kind of new technology in your arc. However, that doesn’t mean that you should feel constrained in your arcs. Doing deeper research on that time period can reveal interesting and new ideas to use in your crisis arc that are more unique than bugging a room before that technology was invented. You never know, your position may be BFFs with the guy that invented the catapult! Or maybe you can pretend that you are!
In futuristic committees, limitations can more easily be overcome. As mentioned previously, there is often more leeway in futuristic committees to creating a lot of the world’s canon in the back room. Obviously if the crisis room shuts you down, don’t push back because they have the final say, but you can use this type of committee to your advantage in terms of technological experimentation. However, this type of committee may feel limiting to people who base their arcs and get a lot of their ideas from history. But, if you’re super creative this could work to your advantage!
Having a made-up crisis position doesn’t mean that you can’t succeed in committee! With these tactics, you can succeed in your made-up crisis position through smart research choices and thinking outside the box.