Be a Great Pageant Judge – Part 1

Posted by ValerieHayes. Date: . Category: Competition.

Miss America pageant judge.Qualified judges are the backbone of any successful pageant.  Here’s the first post in a two-part series with tips so you can be the perfect pageant judge!

1. Research the pageant philosophy.  Every pageant has a specific philosophy.  Is the pageant “established” with a fully developed message and staff to manage appearances? Or is it a newcomer in the pageant community and focused on marketing itself through the titleholder’s work?  Do they want each pageant judge to make a final choice based on just one scoring category? Or are they looking for an overall well-rounded contestant?  Check out the pageant website or ask the pageant director about the pageant philosophy.  Understanding how the pageant is positioning itself in the pageant community is essential to selecting the best contestant for the job!

2. Thoroughly understand the scoring system.  Every pageant has a scoring system that supports their unique pageant philosophy.  Platform pageants tend to put heavy emphasis on personal and on-stage pageant interview questions. While glamour pageants emphasize stage appearance and fitness level.  Leadership or scholarship pageants typically give top scores for community involvement and academic achievement.  Make sure you fully understand the judging categories and how each category is weighted in the overall score.  You need to be making your final vote based on the scoring category that is most important for that pageant.  If you understand the scoring system, you’ll be evaluating contestants based on the pageant’s philosophy, not your own personal preference.

3. Understand the interview format.  It’s important that judges understand what questions the director would like asked and which ones are strictly off limits.  Many “beginner” pageants prefer judges to only ask pageant questions from the contestant’s resume.  Other pageants include questions from the resume but specifically exclude political, religious, or controversial questions.  And there are pageants where any type of question can, and will, be asked.  The pageant director should clearly outline what types of pageant interview questions are appropriate during your judging orientation.  If you have any questions, don’t be afraid to ask the director for clarification.

There’s no worse nightmare than a pageant judge who asks a question that the director told contestants would not be asked.  The contestant leaves the interview, makes a beeline to the director, and complains about the inappropriate question.  A good judge knows what’s okay to ask a contestant and which questions are not appropriate for the pageant.

4. Pay attention to every contestant.  While it’s tempting to make assumptions based on first impressions, make sure you’re giving the same level of time and attention to each contestant.  Whether she’s a first-timer or an experienced contestant, she’s spent time, energy, and money preparing for the pageant.  Even if you’ve already ruled out a contestant for the title, they deserve your attention during their interview and on-stage competition.  Basically, you should be following the golden rule of judging: give them the same level of focus and attention you would want if you were the one being judged!

Click here to read Part 2 of How to Be a Great Pageant Judge.

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