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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!

Christina and Girl

Christina Stratton, Miss Missouri High School America, encourages a young fan!

Looking at yourself in the mirror and being honest about what you need to change is one of the most challenging things you’ll ever do…in pageant competition as well as your everyday life.  As a pageant coach, I can tell you that sometimes contestants really are their own worst enemies.  Here are 2 inspirational stories of contestants who struggled, but ultimately learned to step beyond their limiting patterns to make their pageant dreams come true: 1. The Not Really Committed Contestant:  The Not Really Committed Contestant contacted me for coaching after she competed in her first pageant and didn’t place.  She made it to about 70% of her scheduled appointments and didn’t do her homework in between her sessions. She didn’t place for the second time and was frustrated when a first-timer captured the title.  She decided to compete one more time and called the new titleholder to find out what she had done to win.  “Simple”, said the titleholder, “I did exactly what Valerie told me to do.”  So when she called to set up her appointments, she told me that she was prepared to follow my advice and coaching exactly.  She changed her hair color, the type of gown she wore, never missed an appointment, and was prepared for every coaching session.  It was hard for her because at some level she didn’t really believe she was worth the investment in herself.  While she gave 100% to others, she never really gave herself that same level of commitment.  At her pageant not only did she win the crown, she was voted Contestants Choice and received the Congeniality award.  Why? Because she was ready to step out of her comfort zone and really commit to preparing for the competition.  She had always said she wanted to win, but this time she actually Prepared to Win! 2. The Know It All Contestant:  The Know It All Contestant said she wanted to win her pageant but had very firm ideas about what every aspect of her wardrobe, interview and overall look.  She had competed for 5 years and never even placed in a pageant. I sent her to the best makeup artist, referred her to a leading pageant stylist and told her that she’d need to do her homework in-between our coaching sessions.  She said she was up for it and so we began.  But that’s when the trouble started.  She fought the make-up artist on every single change, nearly had a fit at the photographers, told the wardrobe stylist exactly what she wanted to wear and insisted on giving the exact same answers to pageant interview questions.  As an experienced pageant coach, I knew it was time to call her on her control issues. I explained that she had the best support team in the business and that if she really wanted to get a different result at her pageant she couldn’t continue to be in charge – she’d been in charge for the last 5 years and hadn’t liked the results.  After taking an honest look at what she’d been doing, she reluctantly turned control over to her support team.  When she was crowned, the other contestants buzzed all around her and complimented her on the transformation she’d made.  She went from never having placed at the pageant to the crown in less than 5 months!  It took courage for her to be honest with herself and see how she had been sabotaging her own chances for success.  Her ability to be open to coaching allowed her to transform from a Know It All Contestant into the Perfect Titleholder!

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!