Organizational Planning
Choosing a Secretariat | Choosing Committee Chairs | Expectations for Secretariat | Prior to the Conference | Staff Training | Tips and Rhetoric | Organizational Planning: Problems

The next phase of running a successful conference is the organizational planning stage, which should begin with the selection of student officers to staff your conference. Select staff members who exhibit personality, leadership, knowledge of global issues and sound organizational skills.

All staff members must work as a team to ensure a success.ful conference. They should be expected to handle many of the pre-conference tasks, including keeping in contact with their fellow staff members, setting the conference agenda and researching the issues.

Staff members should also be fully aware of their responsibilities during the conference. They must encourage participants' caucusing and lobbying efforts, facilitate consensus-building, and maintain an orderly committee. It is a good idea to have weekly meetings or training sessions to help staff members prepare themselves for the conference.

Choosing a Secretariat

The Secretariat is the heart of the conference. Your Secretariat will be in charge of everything from recruiting to training staff and registering participants. There are many ways to structure your Secretariat. You should choose positions on Secretariat according to your conference's individual needs. Below is a sample of how to structure your secretariat.

Secretary-General (SG): The Secretary-General is the individual ultimately in charge of all logistical matters at the Model UN conference. He or she assigns countries to all students and schools, serves as the master or mistress of ceremonies for opening and closing ceremonies, and, most importantly, delegates duties to the staff. The SG should make every effort to delegate duties to other staff members, particularly during the conference, where he or she will be busy performing many of the ceremonial duties. Although the role of the Secretary-General at a Model UN conference differs significantly from the role of the Secretary-General at the actual UN, both are considered the main spokesperson of their organizations. The Secretary-General should have considerable Model UN experience as a delegate and preferably as a conference staff organizer as well.

Chief of Staff, Deputy Secretary-General or Director-General: Many conferences use the following titles for the position of the SG's assistant: Chief of Staff, Deputy Secretary-General or Director-General. This person works closely with the Secretary-General. She or he may oversee staff training, the Under-Secretaries-General (see job description below) or the writing/editing of the background papers. Other conferences have both a Chief of Staff and a Director-General, with the Chief of Staff overseeing all the logistical issues and the Director-General dealing with all the substantive issues.

Under-Secretaries-General (USGs): The roles of USGs differ at the various MUN conferences held worldwide. USGs are often charged with overseeing the logistical aspects in specific areas of the MUN simulation. The following are several examples of the roles USGs can play:

  • Under-Secretary-General for Administration (USG-Admin): The USG-Admin. oversees all conference logistics including staggering lunch/dinner breaks, making hotel reservations, setting up conference registration, making room reservations and organizing opening ceremonies.
  • Under-Secretary-General for Conference Services (USG-CS): The USG-CS ensures that computers and printers are available, creates the placards (country name cards), checks that rooms have note pads and drinking water, and coordinates the resource room for delegates.
  • Under-Secretary-General for Policy (USG-Policy): The USG-Policy edits background papers and creates or revises the rules of procedure.
  • Under-Secretary-General for Information Services (USG-IS): The USG-IS creates and maintains the website and conference databases.
  • Under-Secretary-General for Finance (USG-Finance): The USG-Finance maintains the conference budget, pays all vendors and ensures that all participants have paid their delegate fees.

Choosing Committee Chairs

The committee chairs are the face of your conference. They will have the most interaction with your delegates and will make or break the conference, therefore, it is extremely important to select good chairs.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Make sure tasks are clearly defined.
  • When choosing dais staff, try to ensure that you have at least one male and one female on the dais.
  • Make sure your chairpersons have significant Model United Nations experience.
  • Communicate with your staff regularly.
  • Ensure that everyone can attend staff trainings.
  • Consider whether you want to appoint or elect Secretariat positions.
Conferences typically either have all or some of their Secretariat appointed by a faculty advisor, or they hold elections for the top positions. Appointments usually happen in High School settings, while elections are more popular on the College circuit. Larger clubs or classes like to hold elections, while for smaller groups elections are not as necessary. Elections are best for the top positions at the conference (Secretariat), with chairs chosen through an application process. Think about the needs of your particular Model UN group and conference before deciding how to select your staff.

Expectations for Secretariat Members

Now that you've chosen your staff structure it is important to set clear expectations for your staff. These can include general expectations for all staff members and/or individual expectations by staff position.

Prior to the Conference

Before the conference it is essential that staff members get acquainted with one another and the conference. As the conference organizer, it is essential that inform the staff about the following:

  • Expectations
  • Staff Training
  • Travel Arrangements (if necessary)
  • Conference Policies
  • Rules of Procedure
Some ways to encourage your staff to communicate are though the following:
  • Staff newsletters
  • E-mail
  • E-Groups
  • Phone Calls
  • Internet / Social Networks (for informal communication)

Staff Training

Training your staff is extremely important, especially if you have inexperienced staff members or are bringing staff together from many different Model UN backgrounds and conferences. Some areas staff members should be trained in include:
  • Conference Overview
  • History of the Conference
  • Conference/Training Schedule
  • Roles at the Conference
  • Conference Services Overview:
    • Computers
    • Resolutions
    • Name Badges/Placards 
    • Conference newspaper, journal, blog and/or social media outlets
  • Rules of Procedure
  • Position-Specific Training
  • Mock (Practice) Sessions
  • Awards Policy
  • Expectations
  • School Check-In Overview
Training should be completed before the conference. You have many options for training. If you are bringing together staff from different places you may need to do training immediately before the conference in one concentrated session. If your staff is all in the same geographical location, holding weekly or monthly training sessions is a good idea. No matter when you decide to hold training, always have a clear schedule and training materials distributed well in advance of the training session(s).

Tips and Rhetoric

Part of staff training is making sure they know how to address their delegates and what to say. Providing tips and rhetoric for your staff members is a great way to ensure that they are comfortable with the committee process and prepared to face your delegates.

Organizational Planning: Problems

  1. My school/club doesn't have enough people to staff a conference.
  2. Some staff dropped out at the last minute.
  3. Some people cannot attend training.
  4. Too many people want to help with the same task.
  5. Not enough people want to help with administrative tasks.
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