Did you know that the Onstage Question is often the most watched segment of any pageant television broadcast? Why? Because everyone tunes in to see how the contestants will answer tough current events questions. And at the end of each answer, you probably mentally score the contestants and decide who gave the best response. Just like you, I like to evaluate each contestant and here’s how I scored the 2018 Miss Universe Top 5 questions.
Question 1: “Social media has become a prominent factor in the way we perceive one another. Do you believe social media has had a positive or negative effect on the way we judge beauty?”
Miss Venezuela: “Social media [is] what we make of [it]. We must use social media in a positive way and take away any criticisms. Behind every photo, every social media account, there is a good person, a human who can feel. And we all deserve respect.”
Score: I gave this answer a solid 8. It was a decent answer, she stuck with the basic topic, and she understood the negative impact of social media.
I scored her down because while she stayed on topic, she didn’t actually answer the question. The question asked how social media has changed the way we judge beauty. Her answer basically encouraged us to be kind and remember that there’s a real person behind each post. Instead, she might have indicated that women now often take 30 pics to get one that will look good on social media. And that all those selfies may increase pressure for women to always look picture perfect. Then she might have concluded by applauding the celebrities and models posting naked face selfies and point out that we can use social media to create a diverse and realistic definition of beauty.
Tip for You: Make sure that you directly answer the question. When in doubt, repeat the keywords of the question somewhere during your answer. And yes, this simple tip even works when answering Miss Universe Top 5 questions.
Question 2: “What do you think has been the most important social movement of your generation, and why?”
Miss Thailand: “I think the most important social movement, so far, is that we’re having an aging population. So the most important movement in our time is definitely the youth. So the youth is the future. The youth is something we have to invest in because they are the ones who are going to look after the Earth that we live in.”
Score: I gave this answer a 7 for multiple reasons. 1) She never actually identified a social movement. A social movement is a group of people working toward a common goal that they feel will benefit society. The push for civil rights during the 1950s and 1960s was a social movement. 2) Instead of identifying one social movement, she identified 3 issues that will impact her generation: the aging population, youth as the future world leaders, and environmental protection (“look after the Earth that we live in.”) 3) But, she didn’t explain how she felt these issues would impact her generation.
To get a great score for this answer, you must select a social issue ahead of time. It’s almost impossible to think of a social movement on-the-spot.
If you have a platform, you could use the general topic of your platform as your social issue. Let’s pretend my platform is related to support for military veterans. Since the bulk of veterans are over the age of 55, I might talk about advocacy for our aging population. I might say, “I’m concerned about the growing portion of our population that is over the age of 55. We must ensure that we have adequate systems in place to provide health care, family support, and long-term care without over-taxing the millennial generation. I believe that by working together, we can provide programs to care for our much-loved parents and grandparents.” My issue here is an aging population, and the social movement is improved health care and support for seniors.
If you don’t have a platform, pick a social movement issue that you feel is important. Then come up with three reasons why it’s important and two suggestions to improve the current situation.
Tip for You: Always have a social issue that you’re prepared to discuss. Remember; a social movement is a specific goal that benefits society.
Question 3: “Sexual harassment has been at the forefront of recent headlines. Why is it important for men and women to work together in tackling this issue?”
Miss Jamaica: “Sexual harassment is a form of abuse and no abuse should be tolerated whether in the workplace or in society. I believe that men and women should come together and be professional, leave this act alone, and anything that happens, such as sexual harassment, should be taken into the law and should be dealt with. Thank you.”
Score: I gave this answer a score of 9+. This is a good, solid answer that demonstrates she understands what sexual harassment is (vs. sexual assault.) She indicates that sexual harassment is unacceptable and you get the feeling that she would be a strong advocate for women on this issue.
My only suggested improvement for this answer is that she should have included at least one sentence with detailed information. This is a very general answer. Specific details would have demonstrated that she understood why this topic has been in the news. After her first sentence she could have added, “With the recent harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein and the birth of the #MeToo movement, I feel that we must address this issue.” By mentioning Harvey Weinstein and the #MeToo movement, she would have indicated that she knows exactly what triggered this question.
Tip for You: Try to include details in at least one sentence whenever possible.
Question 4: “Terrorism is one of the main threats facing our world today. As Miss Universe, you will lead discussions on current issues with communities all over the globe. How would you go about explaining terrorism?”
Miss Columbia: “I have never been a victim or [have had] a family member [be] a victim of terrorism. I cannot really explain how it feels to be one of them. But if I had the opportunity to speak to a child, I would tell them that, ‘Please, your generation and my generation, we cannot be full of weapons. Please, more books, more culture, more friendships, and more love.’ Thank you.”
Score: Unfortunately, I had to give this answer a 6. Miss Columbia was fabulous, but this was the worst answer of the evening. She spent the first two sentences of her answer explaining that she doesn’t really know anything about terrorism. This might be okay if the title she’s competing for represents a country where terrorism is not an issue. But as Miss Universe, she will be expected to talk about issues that impact the global community. And for the global community, terrorism is an important issue.
Even if you’ve never experienced terrorism, you can probably talk about its devastating impact. Maybe you’ve seen video or pictures in the media of people who have lost homes and loved ones to terrorism. You don’t need to have experienced something personally to explain it. She could have said, “Terrorism encourages followers to engage in violence to achieve political or social goals. It can include a mass shooting at a mosque, bombing at an airport, or driving a truck through a bike path crowded with people. Terrorism is wrong, no matter what group is involved. We must all work together to end terrorism.
Tip for You: Miss Universe Top 5 questions aren’t always complicated. Resist the temptation to over analyze the question. Sometimes it just takes a little common sense to deliver a great answer.
Question 5: “Women make up 49 percent of the global workforce. What do you believe is the most important issue facing women in the workplace today, and why?”
Miss South Africa: “In some cases, women get paid 75 percent of what men earn for doing the same job, working the same hours. And I do not believe that that is right. I think we should have equal work for equal pay for women all over the world. Thank you.”
Score: I scored this answer as a strong 9+. It’s a good, solid answer. She’s prepared with a statistic on the issue and understands the ‘equal job, equal pay’ concept. She also gives the impression that she’d be a strong advocate for working women.
My only critique of her answer is that she does not include any suggestions to achieve pay equity for women. While I admit achieving pay equity on a global level could be a challenge, she could have mentioned the importance of equal access to education for girls and young women. Or she could have talked about the fact that in some countries women are limited by social and religious expectations and unable to pursue a career. Then she could have really stepped up her game and suggested that we shatter the glass ceiling by electing a woman as Secretary General of United Nations. Now, she wouldn’t need to include all of these suggestions. Just one suggestion would have been enough for me to give her a 10.
Tip for You: When answering a question about a problem, suggest a potential action step or solution.
So there you have it, my scores of the Miss Universe Top 5 questions and advice on how each question could have been even better.