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"Working with Valerie for my Miss USA pageant interview was one of the best decisions I made! It not only prepared me for the pageant, but also for many other obstacles I will have to face in my future. This woman is fantastic and I recommend her as a pageant coach to anyone and everyone!"

Lauren Lundeen, Miss Oklahoma USA 2012, Top 10 Miss USA 2012

"Working with Valerie gave me the confidence and assurance to do well in my pageant interviews for local competitions, Miss Hawaii, and Miss America. She helped me articulate my points and always made sure I remained true to myself. The skills I have received from her carried me into 2nd Runner-up at the Miss America pageant, but I will carry the lessons of communication with me for the rest of my life!"

Jalee Fuselier, Miss Hawaii 2010
Second Runner-up Miss America 2011

"Valerie Hayes prepared me so much for my pageant interview at Miss Teen USA! She helped me look at things in the judges’ eyes and really made me think about how I was answering my pageant interview questions. Valerie helped me learn to relax and take a deep breath before I was answering something that caught me off guard. I think she is an amazing coach and such an awesome person! I would definitely recommend her to you.”

Katie Taylor, Miss Kansas Teen USA 2012, Top 16 Miss Teen USA 2013

Expert Pageant Coach with a Proven Track Record of Success

Paperwork Preparation including Platform Development

Pageant Interview Coaching

Current Events Tutoring

Talent Analysis

Competition Wardrobe & Image Consultation

On-stage Modeling Analysis

Competition Mindset Coaching

Hi! Thank you for visiting Valerie Hayes, The Pageant Coach™. Take a look around and you’ll find tips, DIY resources and coaching programs to help YOU be successful in all the aspects of your next pageant competition.

My background includes coaching contestants at all levels – from beginners in local pageants all the way to experienced contestants at top national and international pageants. Whether you want help selecting a pageant, need advice on your pageant evening gown or want to learn how to answer pageant interview questions, I’ve got the experience and winning track record you’re looking for. Yes, You Can Learn how to nail every one of your pageant competition areas!

While you’re here, you check out my DIY Training Tools for working on your own, plus take a peak at the VIP Coaching options. To get started right away, download my free audio/e-book, Top Ten Pageant Success Secrets, and sign up for my weekly email newsletter! You're going to be FABulous!

Las Vegas TV InterviewThe ability to get publicity and market your title or platform is becoming an important part of the pageant interview.  By working on behalf of your title and platform, you’re demonstrating that you’ll work hard as the titleholder.  In order to be prepared for questions in your interview about “marketing your title” and “your legacy as a titleholder”, you need to get some publicity for your title and volunteer activities.  Here are 3 simple and quick ideas for getting a little free publicity:

1.  Post/Tweet regularly about your platform.   Social media sites are a great place to post your appearance and community service photos with a brief narrative about your activities.  In order for media outlets to be interested in your “story” they’re going to check social media to see if you’re currently promoting what you’re doing.  If you’re promoting what you’re doing, they’re going to see that you would promote a story and they’ll be more likely to contact you.  You’ll want to build about 1 month of posts and tweets before you begin contacting media outlets about a possible story.  When you do contact them, remember to include your Twitter and Facebook page information so that they can check you out.

2.  Call or e-mail your local community newspaper with a story idea.  Call the general phone number for your  local community newspaper and ask to speak to the editor in charge of story concepts.  When you speak to the editor they’ll listen to your idea and decide if they’d like to do an interview.  Make sure you talk about your community service connections, as they’re more likely to do a story on you if it’s a “feel good piece” instead of just a story about you competing in a pageant.  If they decide they’d like to do an interview, they’ll assign it to the correct reporter for that part of the newspaper (usually community activities for pageant-related topics) and the reporter will call you for your interview.  When you’re interviewed, make sure you have all the appropriate information ready for the call:  appearance date/time, name of community service, name of pageant, and contact information for the Pageant Director.  Make sure you have a photo or headshot you can e-mail; they love to use photos with stories.  If you’re under 18, the reporter will need to have your parents’ permission to conduct the interview.

3.  Contact the community section editor of a larger city newspaper.  Most metropolitan newspapers have a section that’s specifically written and distributed for surrounding suburbs and communities.  For example, the Houston Chronicle has a special section for the Montgomery County area which includes The Woodlands, where I live.  These sections focus on stories relating to community residents and help the paper appeal to a wider audience.  This is the perfect chance for you to promote your title and platform.  Go ahead and contact the editor and pitch your story idea.  If they’re interested, they’ll assign a reporter to the story and you’ll follow through just like #2 above.

The important thing to remember about using the media to promote your platform and title is that they’re getting tons of story requests all the time.  Focus on building your social media presence so that you have an established audience for their story (your fans and followers) and then politely and persistently continue to submit story idea.  Don’t give up – I believe in you!

Kori Crowning CROP

Kori Zwagstra developed the skills necessary to win the Interview Award and capture the Mrs. New Mexico America crown.

There’s a reason why everyone’s heard the saying “Pageants are won in the interview room.”  It’s because it’s true!  But in order to get a winning score you’ve got to look at your personal interview as more than just a string of pageant interview questions – you’ve got to look at it with a strategic perspective.  Here are 4 Secrets to creating a great pageant interview:

1.  Get Personal:  don’t just keep repeating over and over again the same key words and phrases you’ve heard other contestants say.  You’ve got to really understand who you are and what you’re all about in order to express why you’re a unique, stand-out contestant to your judging panel.  Get personal – what have you done, what is your unique background, what qualities do you possess that make you a winner?  By getting personal the judges will get a chance to really see what makes you a stand-out contestant and the obvious choice for the crown!

2.  Listen, Listen, Listen: most contestants listen for the first 3 to 5 words of the question and then they “tune out” the judge and start formulating their answer.  While you may think you’re being very clever, the judges can tell you’re not paying attention and you risk giving an answer that doesn’t match the back end of their question.  It takes patience and practice to listen all the way to the end of each pageant question, but that’s exactly what you need to do.  If you practice listening during your practice sessions, you’ll automatically listen correctly during your pageant interview.  It takes real skill to remain calm, patient and poised – but it will pay off when the judge can tell that you’re really listening to their question.

3.  Read Between the Lines:  sometimes the question you “hear” the judge saying is not really the question the judge is asking.  For example, we all know that “How do you juggle the many activities you’re currently involved in?” is really code for “How will you manage to fulfill the duties and responsibilities of the titleholder?”.  Many questions that judges ask many seem simple on the surface, but actually have a hidden agenda.  Make sure you understand what’s behind the judge’s thinking so that you’ll be able to deliver the content that matches their real question.

4.  Know Your Content: make sure you absolutely know your content before you even step one toe into the interview room.  The #1 reason contestants are worried about their personal or on-stage interview is because their concerned they’ll get a question they don’t have an answer to.  The only way to avoid that problem is to practice developing content.  Notice that I didn’t say “practice answering pageant interview questions” – I said practice developing content.  Your interview should be more than just repeated, memorized answers.  It should demonstrate your ability to listen, think critically, and communicate.  These are the skills of a winning pageant interview!

Whitney Crowning

After finishing First Runner-up in her first pageant, Whitney Montgomery analyzed what she needed to do to come back and win the crown!

This is part 2 of my series on how to analyze your own pageant performance.  If you didn’t catch my last post, just scroll down on my blog to read it.  If you did, and you’ve already started analyzing your last pageant, here’s part 2 of how to be your own pageant coach and critique your pageant performance:

4.  Watch your facial expressions while modeling and answering questions on-stage.  Make sure you don’t look nervous or have a blank stare while modeling or standing in your line-up.  The most important thing is to look like you’re having fun, not as though you’re bored or feel that being on-stage is pure torture!  Beauty queens always display a pleasant, relaxed expression on-stage.  So whether your answering onstage pageant interview questions or modeling in your gown, make sure you’re smiling no matter how you feel on stage!

5.  Pay attention to your grammar skills and articulation.  You can be amazingly perfect in every way when walking the stage, but if you open your mouth to answer pageant interview questions and mumble or have poor grammar skills, you’re probably not going to leave with the crown.  If you’re still in school, pay attention during your English and Communications classes and focus on developing good speaking habits.  If you’re no longer in school, get some feedback from family and friends.  Don’t be afraid to hire a pageant coach to help you improve your speaking skills.  People will automatically think you’re one smart cookie if you demonstrate good language skills!

6.  Write down six things you did well.   The biggest mistake most contestants make when watching their video is thinking they did everything wrong.  Make sure you identify and celebrate your successes!  Even if it’s your very first pageant and you didn’t make the semi-final group, you probably did several things well.  Write down what you did well with red marker on an index card and keep it in plain sight.  That will give you some positive motivation for your next pageant!

7.  Write down three things you would like to improve.  Whether you’re advancing to the next competition level or returning next year to the same pageant, identify three areas in which you’d like to improve.  Then when you’re preparing for your pageant, review your notes and take action to improve in those areas.  Maybe you need to take a couple of modeling lessons or just spend more time brushing up on your current events.  There’s always room for improvement.  Remember: just because you’re the prima ballerina in the ballet, doesn’t mean you can stop taking dance lessons!

8.  Now incorporate what you’ve learned into your next pageant preparation.  Generally speaking, successful contestants allow a minimum of four to six months to prepare for their pageant.  That gives you plenty of time to shop for a fabulous wardrobe, work on your physical fitness, develop your public speaking skills, and improve your overall pageant performance.  Just set your goals, develop your action plan, and your next pageant video will reflect your improvement!