The task of writing a formal invitation may be extremely challenging if you are ambitious enough to invite a UN official from overseas, but may be no less challenging if you are inviting a local professor but don’t know how to approach the invitation process. To begin with, we would assume that you were smart enough to start by assessing how high the chances of bringing a certain guest speaker to this very particular MUN are. Because, if your plan is to hear the speech by the UN Secretary-General while you are a small commencing national MUN several thousand kilometers away from New York, any tips are very unlikely to help you. For those who are more realistic and came up with a realistic list of guests, let us briefly describe the procedure of inviting a guest speaker of your dream.
ARRANGING YOUR PAPER
1) Always use special official letterheads to write a formal invitation. If you have a sponsoring organization (e.g. university, UN Association, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, etc.), kindly ask your contact person to provide you with official papers to send out physical invitations (not emails, though). If there is no influential organization backing you, come up with your own template stating your MUN’s name, logo and contact information on the top of every paper. This will not take a lot of time but will definitely look much better than a plain white paper with not a single official sign.
2) Make sure you spell the name and the position of the guest speaker correctly (usually in the top right corner). Some of the guest speakers might have academic titles (e.g. Professor, PhD), so it’s good to know the way to address them appropriately. Make sure the information about their current position is updated because some of the guest speakers are fast enough to change their workplaces quicker than you prepare an official invitation.
3) The official invitation should be signed by the person in authority. If you have a sponsoring organization, don’t hesitate to ask its president to sign the invitations for you. If there is no one to help you on this sensitive issue - a head of the MUN club or a Secretary-General can put their signatures and this should be fine.
CREATING THE CONTENTS
1) Introduce the reason why you are writing (e.g. We are happy to invite you to deliver a speech at the opening ceremony of...) and let the speaker know the most important facts about your conference, such as previous high-ranking guest speakers, the number of participants and the sponsoring organizations. Anything that would convince a guest speaker of the importance and significance of this conference would be is suitable.
2) It would be a good idea to attach several documents to the actual sheet of your formal invitation. For example, the program of the conference and the list of committee agendas should be interesting for the guest speaker before he makes a decision.
3) Be specific about your expectations for the speaker in his lecture/speech. Be sure you clarify that you only want him/her to speak on a certain area of professional interest or in general share personal experience.
4) If this guest speaker was suggested to you by a person from your sponsoring organization/any person in authority you know, don’t forget to mention this person’s name and position. This is certainly a very positive factor for the guest speaker to understand that you have a sort of affiliation with his/her acquaintances.
5) If you/your staff members have already personally met this guest speaker it is also good to make a reference to the past, reminding the speaker about the details of your meeting.
6) Don’t forget to mention how you can be reached to answer additional questions or to be notified about guest speaker’s decision.
1) If you have a chance to contact the personal assistant/secretary of the guest speaker, please, clarify, what method of delivery is preferred by a guest speaker - in person or by mail. May be he or she even prefers an email.
2) Be sure you track your invitation, i.e. call or write back with the question on the final decision after a certain amount of time. Depending on the business culture of a country, this response time might vary from 1 to 4 weeks.
The above-mentioned tips might seem to be painting too formal a picture for the representatives of some countries and vice versa - but not formal enough for the others. So why don’t you share your own experiences and give us several pieces of advice on how different this process will be in your country?
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