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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!

Lauren Lundeen, Miss Oklahoma 2012, was so comfortable in heels that she practically floated down the runway!


One of the hallmarks of an elite contestant is the ability to look completely relaxed and beautiful on stage.  But if your shoes are killing you it’s almost impossible to exude beauty and grace!  As a pageant coach, I’m constantly asked how to find shoes that won’t make you miserable during the long hours of pageant competition.  Here are a few “must-do” survival tips for making sure your shoes feel as good as they look:

1.  Don’t Compromise On Size.  No matter how cute the shoe you’re lusting after is, don’t try to squeeze your foot into a shoe that’s a half or full-size too small.  While you might be able to stand it for 5 minutes while you’re trying on the shoe, it really won’t work out for the 3 hours you’re wearing that shoe during the pageant. You don’t want to be wincing in pain while your answering pageant interview questions or modeling on stage.  Wearing the right size shoe is an absolute must – don’t ever compromise on size!

2.  Budget for Comfort.  The comfort of your pageant shoe is dictated by the quality of the construction of the sole and the heel.  You need to have a sole that is shaped properly to conform to your foot and the heel absolutely must be stable enough for the spinning and twirling that takes place during the opening number and on-stage modeling.  While it may be tempting to cut corners with a cheaper shoe, your feet will pay the price at the pageant.  Instead of purchasing a ton of cheap shoes for your pageant, save up your pageant pennies and invest in two to three really well made shoes.  Make sure when you’re putting together your pageant budget that you remember to budget for comfort!

3.  Practice Wearing Your Heels Before the Pageant.  The secret to wearing heels non-stop at a pageant is to wear your pageant shoes, or a similar heel, regularly beginning 6 – 8 weeks prior to your pageant.  The two main reasons for this are the mechanics of wearing heels and the ability to move and balance in your shoes.  When you’re wearing heels the calf muscle of your leg is pushed up and your shin muscle is extended.  You’ve got to gradually get your leg accustomed to this unnatural position so that you don’t develop shin splints by day 2 of the pageant.  Additionally, the balance required when wearing flats and low-heels is completely different from the balance your body maintains to walk in a 4”+ heel.  By practicing early and gradually getting used to balancing in a variety of situations (walking, climbing stairs, etc.) your body will naturally develop the ability to balance in heels so that it’s second nature during the pageant!

4.  Be Prepared With Adorable Flats:  No one, absolutely no one, wears 4” heels during every moment of arrival, appearance events, rehearsal, and competition.  Make sure you have some flats on hand for events on the schedule that don’t require a high-glamour look.  Select fashionable, basic flats that can easily work with any outfit in your rehearsal wardrobe just in case you need to switch to flats for a few hours. There’s absolutely no reason you can’t look stylish and comfortable while you’re giving your feet a rest from those stilettos!

5.  Bring Your Shoe Emergency Kit:  Make sure you’re prepared for a foot first-aid moment.  Bring Band-aids in a variety of sizes, a “rub relief” stick for strappy sandals, moleskin and bring along some footpads or gel inserts.  If you’ve properly prepared you won’t need any of these items but an elite contestant is always prepared!

MarkBallas-MissAmerica2Many experienced pageant contestants are asked to judge at some point in their pageant career.  Today’s post is part 2 of a two-part series to help you be the perfect pageant judge!

5Take notes about each contestant.  If there are more than five contestants in a competition division, you probably need to take notes on the contestants.  This will help you to remember any red-flags or stand-out performances during the interview or on-stage competition.  This is especially helpful if you’re judging a multiple-day, multiple-division pageant.  For confidentiality purposes, remember to turn in any notes you’ve taken to the Judges Coordinator when you turn in your judges notebook after the pageant.  Just a quick note here and there will help you remember which contestant really impressed you!

6.  Remember to smile.  Remember to smile at each contestant during your questions and answers in the interview and while they’re competing on stage.  Everyone one appreciates a friendly face during a pageant and this is your chance to practice your “queen” skills by encouraging others.  Directors want all their contestants to have a positive experience at the pageant and it’s not your job to be intimidating or a scary.  Regardless of the contestant’s skill level, remember to give them the courtesy of a smile!

7.  Judge the contestant based on the pageant criteria.  When you’re assigning the point values or actual score for each contestant, keep in mind the pageant criteria.  For example the criteria for a local festival pageant might be less stringent than for a large state USA pageant.  And the expectations for a national pageant are much higher than the expectations for a local preliminary.  Don’t give an inappropriately high or low score based on your personal pageant background or competition experience.  Your scores should be relative to the pageant and the expectations for this particular group of contestants.  Accurate, thoughtful scoring will earn you an invitation to judge again in the future!

8.  Maintain confidentiality of pageant scores.  It’s sometimes tempting to provide a little “helpful feedback” to a favorite contestant or to express support to a contestant you’d like to see compete again. Remember that as a judge you are expected to respect the confidentiality of the pageant and not share your scores or comments directly, or indirectly, with contestants or their family members.  Also, a judge should never speculate or share impressions about how a fellow judge may have voted.  Additionally, while you may be providing encouraging feedback, contestants are so physically and emotionally drained immediately after the pageant that any positive feedback leaves them confused and wondering why they didn’t win the pageant if you, as a judge, said they did a great job.  If you really feel that your feedback may be helpful for a contestant, share your feedback with the pageant director or their pageant coach who can share this information with the contestant under the right circumstances.  Not respecting the confidentiality of pageant scores is completely inappropriate, confuses contestants, always gets back to the pageant director and is the fastest way to shut down your career as a pageant judge.

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