Resolutions have been written and submitted, and blocks gather for one more unmoderated caucus to decide who gets to present and who gets to answer questions during Q&As. Participation in these Question and Answer sessions, also called Q&As, is coveted among MUN delegates. While being trained, almost every delegate is told that Question and Answer sessions are the culmination of the conference; it is there that bloc leaders have the opportunity to establish their claim over solutions in the resolution and refute opposing points. Head delegates and team presidents intimidate trainees, saying that if you are not on the Author’s Panel (the group who answer questions), you will not be viewed as authoritative or win any awards.
In many cases, these sentiments are right, Q&As are essential. Question and Answer sessions show a lot more to the chair and other delegates than merely what your resolution has to offer. Participation in Q&As clearly communicates that you are a bloc leader, and are responsible for creating the solutions in your paper. Additionally, it provides you with an opportunity to stand out as the primary sponsor of your resolution, especially if there was contention before. As a result, participating in Question and Answer sessions can have a significant impact on if a delegate receives an award as well as how much influence they maintain in their blocs.
The idea that a delegate should always go up for Q&A, however, is a sweeping generalization that ignores some of the more important values and concepts of Model United Nations. There are several instances in which it may be counterproductive to insist on being a member of the Author’s Panel. For example, if you, as a delegate, are more talented as a writer and negotiator, than you are as a speaker, being on Author’s Panel would be detrimental to you and your bloc; because you won’t be able to defend your resolution properly. Similarly, if you are a talented speaker, but did not add any specific clauses to the paper, it would more beneficial for someone familiar with the content of the paper to present and answer questions.
When deciding whether or not to participate in the Q&A session, you must decide how you want to be perceived in your committee room. You have two options; the first is to force your way onto author’s panel and deny a less qualified delegate the spot. However, doing this may make you look like a power hungry bully to the chair and other delegates. The second option is to gracefully step down in a way that makes it clear to everyone, including the chair, that you are using your authority to strengthen the bloc as a whole and accent as many active members as possible. That being said, if you have an equal balance of speaking, writing, and leading your bloc and are respected as a leader in the room, you should do everything in your power to present, as you are likely one of the best representatives of your group’s position. Despite this, instances will arise, where, more delegates are demanding a position on Author’s panel that there are spots. At this point if you are favoring a more collaborative strategy you may want to step down, it may be in your best interest to step down and let the other members of your bloc present, trusting that the rest of the room and the chair have already recognized you as the supreme leader of the bloc.
In short, Q&As are a critical part of Model UN, and it is essential for every delegate to utilize them. However, your drive to be on the panel should be to defend your ideas and solutions. Don’t fight your way into a Q&A solely because you want to be seen.