So you want to host a conference? We love to see it. Before you do anything, you have to find 4-7+ other people who also want to host a conference. This will be your Senior Secretariat, and all of you will be responsible for nearly every aspect of the conference. No pressure. So without any frills, here’s how to pick a good secretariat.
The big position. For this role, you want someone who’s good at delegating but also can pick up slack in any areas they may need to. Essentially it’s someone who can do all the jobs on Senior Sec, but doesn’t unless it’s necessary. Part of the job involves making decisions that some people won’t appreciate (e.g. staff selection, committee topic finalization, any dais issues that may come up), so you’ll need someone who can be both assertive and understanding. It’s a fine line to tread and no one will be perfect at the job, but try to get as close as you can. Lastly, you’ll need someone who can think on their feet, since when the actual conference rolls around there are always last-minute things to tend to that someone forgot about. Our team selects the Secretary General through elections at the same time we elect our new Executive Board for the upcoming school year. The Sec Gen then selects her Senior Secretariat through a process that can change depending on who the Sec Gen is, but we usually do an application/interview process.
So you have your Sec Gen, amazing. Or you are the Sec Gen, even better. The DG should be the right-hand woman to the Sec Gen. Depending on the number of positions on Senior Sec, they’ll need to help the Sec Gen follow up with everyone and also sometimes jump into the Sec Gen role if needed. They, like the Sec Gen, need to have an assertive side. An effective line of communication with the Sec Gen is necessary, so someone who works well with the Sec Gen is important. Think of it as a Vice President role. We also have our DG work on the conference website and formatting of background guides.
Under-Secretary General of External Relations
This is where the titles of Senior Sec members start becoming different depending on the conference you go to. Charge d’Affaires is another name for this position that we’ve seen at many conferences. This position will handle all of the invoicing, emailing, and communicating with advisors and administration about finances and the like. They should be borderline obsessive about checking email, and able to do basic math (with the aid of spreadsheets, of course). You’ll also want someone who can be professional yet firm in an email since there will inevitably be things that happen where you need to mediate an issue involving delegation sizes, payment, etc. The USG of External Relations should also work closely with the Sec Gen to make sure that payment policies and invoices are kept up to date and that accurate records are kept since even when the conference is over, there will still be outstanding payments to track down.
Under-Secretary General of Crisis Committees
Since our school’s conference has both GA and Crisis committees, we have different USGs for both. The USG of Crisis doesn’t necessarily have to be someone who’s good at crisis committees. They should be someone who can juggle multiple things at once and also help train daises to run the room and train staff to respond to notes. While creativity is important, promptness is more important. Since they’ll be working directly with the committees, this will be the person responsible for tracking down the background guides and any other materials necessary for the committee. Handling issues with daises is inevitable so someone with good interpersonal skills is necessary. It’s not required to have someone who wants to reinvent the wheel where crisis is concerned, but a little creativity regarding the make-up of the committees can’t hurt.
Under-Secretary General of GA Committees
This position has many of the same qualifications as the USG of Crisis. They should be able to train daises and also help with any questions the daises and delegates may have. Depending on the type of conference you’re running, the USG of GA may need to help daises develop interesting ideas for committees. GA topics can often be very dry depending on the type of delegates you’re trying to appeal to, so someone with new, fresh ideas for topics is helpful.
- Director of Merchandise – creativity in this role is key. Good merch is something we really enjoy in a conference, and being able to slap a sticker on your laptop that shows you do MUN is quirky and relatable (depending on who you ask). You want someone in this role who can be on top of ordering merch and who also has a Venmo, CashApp, PayPal, or whatever you’re planning on using to keep track of merch purchases.
- Director of Logistics – you’re going to need to book a lot of rooms for your conference. Staff rooms, committee rooms, a Senior Sec room, etc. Sometimes this becomes a huge hassle, which is where this position comes in. Someone who is really on top of logistics and who has impeccable time management is ideal for this. They’ll also likely be the person organizing the schedule with the Sec Gen and making sure people know where to be and when.
- Director of Technology – for our conference’s purposes, the DG handles all the website stuff, but some conferences function differently (and that’s okay). Whoever’s in this position should really like building websites (via WordPress, html, Wix, or whatever you’re using to host your website). They should have a good eye for aesthetics since no one likes a garbage-looking website. Hopefully they’re also good at editing things, since they might have to look through background guides as a third pair of eyes to make sure they’re good before they go on the website.
A Few Words of Wisdom
- Don’t feel like you need a huge secretariat. Our conference functions perfectly fine with 5 Senior Sec members, and we’ve been able to consolidate positions a lot in the last few years so there’s less dead weight. A big secretariat can also lead to problems, so only keep the positions you really need.
- Just because someone is your friend doesn’t mean they’ll be good for a position. Yeah, it sucks having to deny your friends but at the end of the day you want someone in a position who’s going to do the job right, not just be your friend.
- You will have to deal with issues with daises not getting along. It happens. People who do MUN have strong personalities that often clash. If it gets really bad, you might have to fire someone. It happens. Don’t sweat it. You’re there to run a conference, not be someone’s mom or best friend.
- Have fun! Planning a conference is stressful (trust me, we know) so take some time after the conference is over to thank your Senior Sec, staff, and everyone who helped you along the way. Enjoy the little victories along the way.