With that, how is the best way to design the agenda of an effective Model UN conference?
- How many days should the conference be?
- How many sessions should there be? How long each?
- What is the target audience’s age range? High school students? University? Both?
- What type of social events are you planning to have? And not.
- Time a session day should start and end.
- Are there any specific sponsor conditions being included?
Length of the Conference
Most Model UN conferences are about 3 to 5 days long, 4 days being the most common length.
This decision is usually made based on how long the team will have the facilities (rooms) for the conference, however there are additional things to consider such as registrations, opening and closing ceremonies.
Some conferences do not always have all conference days with sessions, some have the first day dedicated for registration and opening ceremonies.
Most conferences have about 3 to 4 days of sessions. More than 4 is often too much for the delegates and by the end they are too exhausted to continue, and less than 3 is too little to pass resolutions and considered to be too short to be worth attending.
There are also Alternative Model UN conferences that include workshops and several speakers throught the conference, and those usually last about a 6 to 7 days.
These conferences are usually focused in specific topics, and they do not only provide a simple MUN experience, but it is usually a retreat for a week or so, where participants are not only delegates for a few sessions, but also participate in workshops and are invited to attend discussions between professionals on the field.
Every session day has about 3 to 5 sessions and each tend to range between 1.5 to 3.5 hours.
However, when deciding on the length of every session, remember that delegates get easily tired after long sessions and a lunch and one or two coffee breaks are needed throughout session days.
Additionally, make sure that delegates receive enough session time in order to spark constructive debates, work our their differences, draft resolutions and vote on them.
Here bellow is a schedule sample of a generic conference agenda.
For more examples, most conference post their agendas on their website, you can use those as examples.
Social events are often key for the success of a conference and a what many delegates will remember the conference by.
WARNING: Remember the age of the delegates, for if they are high school students in a country with a strict drinking law, alcohol and bars have to be out of the agenda.
Social Events are important not only to give the delegates some rest but also to break the ice to socialize and network.
Some of the most common social events are:
- A delegate dance at the last day (club);
- A gala event at a nice place, such as the city hall or a rented location;
- Ice breaking activities (games and competitions);
- Invite the delegates for a restaurant with traditional food of the country.
- Going to a pub with a group of delegates;
- A tour around the city (many delegates also want to do tourism).
- Blind dates arrangements;
- Visit a traditional location and watch folk-dancing or singing;
- Cultural Nights where delegates present cultural activities and talents, a small 'Talent Show;'
Regarding waking up time and when delegates have to report back to the conferences:
Many conference usually start their session days around the 8 to 10 AM.
The conference that start early usually aim to maximize the session time for the delegates, however keep in mind that waking up early after a night of social events and decrease a delegate's productivity. It is strongly recommended to start sessions at 10 AM for delegates will most often go to sleep very late.
Sponsors are key for a conference, they provide not only material for the conference, but also additional capital and resources.
Potential sponsors do not tend to sponsor conferences that plan heavy parties or that are sponsored by bars and clubs. Therefore, be careful with what you put in your agenda, or at least your "official" agenda.
Additionally, sponsors may request conferences to add specific events in one of more session days, or extra time at the opening and closing ceremonies.
Make sure to ask sponsors about this.