You’ve sent in your registration fee and put together a list of things to do for the pageant. You want the judges to notice you, and you’re sure you know how to stand out in a pageant.
The perfect evening gown is a must, so you spend hours looking at gowns on the Internet and shopping. You decide that a killer competition headshot will do the trick, so you book a photoshoot with a top photographer. And you hire the very best pageant makeup artist so that you look absolutely stunning during your competition.
But would it surprise you to know that all that activity is not going to help you stand out in a pageant? Why? Because those are the easy things contestants do to prepare for a pageant.
Trying on beautiful gowns and twirling in front of a mirror while the salesperson tells you how great you look is easy. Booking a photoshoot with a professional photographer whose job it is to make you look picture perfect is easy. And hiring a makeup artist to make you look amazing is easy.
So, what should you do to stand out in a pageant? After years of working with contestants who win big titles, I can tell you that they all do these five things:
1. Do Your Research
I know you’d rather spend your time researching gowns and hairstyles, but there’s other research that will make a bigger impact on your score.
The #1 reason contestants who train don’t consistently place or win is because they’re competing in the wrong pageant. Fortunately, the Internet and social media make it super easy to find out everything you need to know about your pageant.
A few of the things you should be looking for include:
- What is the scoring criteria for each area of competition?
- Does the pageant emphasize one area of competition more than another?
- Do the areas of competition match your strengths as a contestant?
Contestants often compete in the same system for years without success. If that’s happening to you, consider researching pageants that might be a better fit for your strengths as a contestant.
2. Practice Your Skills
Would it surprise you to know that at any pageant – no matter what pageant it is – you’re only competing against 10-15% of the contestants? Why? Because 80-90% of contestants do not practice the skills necessary to get top scores and win.
Let me break it down for you.
No matter what level you’re competing at 50% of the contestants don’t understand what it takes to be a top contestant. You’ve seen this at pageants; after the opening number and introductions, you’ve mentally eliminated 50% of the contestants. They signed up for the pageant but really didn’t do much to prepare.
That leaves us with 50%.
Of that 50%, half of them will have only practiced the skill they enjoy the most. If they’re great at fitness, they hit the gym regularly but skip interview practice. If they’re strong in interview, they keep up on current events, only work out three days a week, and hope that their interview score will pull them into the Top 5 where they plan to ace their on-stage question. You’ve seen this too. A contestant is often really strong in one area of competition but falls flat in others.
So now we’re down to 25%.
Of that 25%, half of them either didn’t practice their interview or didn’t practice their modeling skills. You have to practice both.
I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard, “I don’t need to practice my modeling because I’m already comfortable on stage.” Or, “I don’t need to practice my interview. I’m on the speech team at school.” And it’s always those very same contestants who are confused when they don’t make the Top 15 or Top 10.
You must practice your interview and you must practice your modeling skills.
So, we’re at 12.5%. See, only 10-15% of the contestants have practiced all the skills need to win the pageant.
3. Be Fully Prepared
We’re not talking about practicing your skills here. I’m talking about being logistically prepared to compete.
You checked, and double checked the schedule of events to make sure you have everything you need. And you have a just in case backup plan.
Your talent costume tends to lose stones, so you have backup stones, glue, and a tweezer.
You’re not sure if the wardrobe for the welcome gala is cocktail or evening gown, so you bring one of each.
One year I worked with a contestant who even mapped out the Target, Walgreens, and Wal-mart that were closest to her hotel just in case she needed something on short notice. That’s being fully prepared.
4. Follow the Rules
Don’t be the contestant that thinks they’re so special that they don’t have to follow the rules.
If the pageant doesn’t allow makeup artists, don’t secretly smuggle your favorite makeup artist into the hotel to do your makeup on the sly.
At the end of your interview if your closing statement is supposed to be 30 seconds don’t go over by 10 seconds and hope that no one will notice. They will.
Judges don’t take kindly to contestants who think they’re so qualified to be the titleholder that they don’t need to follow the rules.
5. Let Your Personality Shine
Judges expect contestants to be a little nervous at the pageant. But they don’t expect you to be so nervous that you can’t relax, demonstrate your skills, and be yourself. Conversely, they don’t expect you to be so over-prepared that you look and sound like a beauty queen robot.
You know you’re a top contestant when you’re able to demonstrate your skill set, but you feel relaxed and confident. You’re not pushing. You’re not chasing the crown.
It’s that moment when your skills feel like second nature. Your skills have become a part of you, and your personality can shine through.
After the pageant is over, the competition wardrobe is packed, and the makeup is gone, you’ve probably noticed that beauty queens look just like everyone else. It’s not the wardrobe or hair and makeup that make a beauty queen. It’s your ability to focus on doing the boring, sometimes tedious work that is necessary to capture any crown.
Your ability to keep your eye on the goal and do the work necessary to win is what will make you stand out.
Signing up for a pageant is easy. Preparing to win can be a challenge, but the payoff is worth it. And I’m pretty sure you’re up to the challenge.
Just remember, only 10-15% of the contestants will stand out at the pageant. Think back to the pageants that you’ve watched, and you’ll realize how accurate that statistic is.
But now you know how to make sure you’re in that top 10-15% because you know how to stand out in a pageant.
You’re going to be FABulous!