Sofie Sharaf is definitely not new to the MUN world. The former student of Digital Business participated in so many conferences, she lost count. Here is her advice for first-timers.
Anna Abraham : How did you come to MUN?
Sofie Sharaf : So, let’s just quickly go over my MUN CV. Just kidding. I visited my first MUN when I was 16. But then I had a long break until I rediscovered MUN when I went to university. I was really frightened by my first MUN experience and I thought I would never do it again. I thought: It’s so frightening to go upstairs, stand in front of all these people and then speak in English. But funny enough, I actually chose my university because they had a MUN team and I thought I’d give it another try. Since then, I was more involved in MUN. The next conference, I attended was actually MainMUN. I am part of the Main MUN team since 2020 and then quickly discovered that I am more into chairing though. I was secretary-general for the 2021 edition and now I am on the board of directors of the association.
What is your favorite part of MUN?
As a delegate it is always cool to dive into different topics and meet new people. And I think this is the part where it can be hard for first-timers. People are so in their MUN bubble which is for example reflected in how they talk to each other. That way you can easily feel excluded. This happened to me in my first MUN. It really takes some courage to then be willing to break open the bubble of others – this can also be very cool because it is a story of growth.
As a chair I really enjoyed chairing very niche weird committees as the International Maritime Organization. I also chaired the committee on peaceful use of outer space, which I really enjoyed because space law appears to be between science fiction and real life.
What is your advice for first-timers?
Don’t put too much pressure on yourself in your first MUN. You will most likely get into a committee where everyone is more experienced than you. Don’t let that frighten you. Just roll in your own speed. So, if you are not ready to deliver a big opening speech, then don’t do it. Nobody will blame you. If you don’t feel confident to raise a motion until the last day of the conference, then don’t do it until then. Go with your own pace, try to learn from the others, try to approach every new delegate that you feel connected to. Ask questions. And again: Don’t put too much pressure on yourself. You are not forced to participate, so try to get as much out of it as possible. Apply all that knowledge on your second MUN.
Also, there are different kinds of MUN attendees: Some all about delivering perfect speeches, some are all about networking.
What could more experienced MUN delegates do to let newcomers feel more welcome?
Of course, you want to do you if you are experienced. So maybe, you have a thought out plan. Maybe you already have some speeches prepared that you really want to deliver and because you are so much more experienced, they are better than what a first timer would be able to deliver. But, on the other hand, just approach them. If you see someone clearly struggling without a clue what is going on, maybe try to invite them to get into your working group. Maybe approach them in an informal setting.
How can you not become nervous when you deliver a speech?
I am usually not nervous before giving the speech, but incredibly nervous when standing there and already delivering the speech. I remember when I was standing at my first MUN giving a speech and my leg kept shaking. I was like: No, just stop. I didn’t want to seem nervous to others. Some of it will never go away. It is totally normal to be nervous when you push yourself to the limits of what you can do and what you are used to. Let’s say it’s a good sign. It means you are currently growing.
To become less nervous, you can practice of course. If you are not comfortable in talking to a big group of people, maybe not start with giving a big speech in front of the GA. The other thing is don’t be worried about being nervous. Everyone is nervous. It’s okay if you stumble. It’s okay if you forget an English word. It’s probably not your first language anyway. Everyone can understand that.
It might help to structure your speech. Some people write short sentences, some write down keywords. Some very experienced delegates might go to the microphone with nothing. But you don’t have to do that. Find out what makes you most comfortable.
Do you have a favorite MUN moment?
It’s hard to say because there are so many. Of course, being a secretary general was very electrifying: I was giving the closing speech. Magical is not the right word but it goes in that direction. You prepared a year for this conference. That was pretty cool.
Afterwards, it will be done, and you fall into this Post-MUN depression as we all do. Sometimes during closing ceremonies I am struggling to keep my tears inside because I am a very sensitive person.
And as a chair I was always very proud of my delegates, seeing them developing over time and maybe give better speeches.