Miss Hawaii, Allison Chu, won with top pageant scores onstage.Allison Chu, Miss Hawaii 2016, won her state title on the very first try by winning over the judges and getting top pageant scores onstage!

Your on-stage performance is an important opportunity to impress the judges as the obvious choice for the crown. Check out these 5 pageant coaching tips to instantly improve and get top pageant scores onstage!

1. Play Up Your Strengths: Contestants are often overly critical of themselves and worry that they’re not perfect. But, as a pageant coach, I can tell you that everyone has one or more areas in which they shine. If you’ve got great legs, wear a gown with a slit so you can show them off when modeling. If your arms are toned, make sure to wear a sleeveless or strapless gown. Accepting yourself, and the many things about you that are wonderful is the first step towards a fabulous on-stage performance!

2. Design Your Look: It’s just human nature for people to make assumptions about you based on your appearance. Judges are human too and will develop initial opinions about you as a contestant based on your overall look. It’s important for you to design a look that meets the criteria of the pageant, but is true to who you are as a person. Think of it as creating the visual aspect of your contestant brand. Your look should be empowering, polished, and create the impression that you’re prepared to wear the crown!

3. Photograph Your Competition Wardrobe: I’m always amazed when I’m at a pageant, and a contestant asks me for advice on what earrings to wear or which pageant evening gown looks the best on her. Take some time to “practice” your competition wardrobe in advance. Try on all of your competition outfits, complete with accessories and undergarments and take a photo of each complete competition wardrobe choice. Then, review the photos with a critical eye as though you are one of the judges. By photographing your wardrobe and analyzing your options before the pageant, you’ll avoid having a wardrobe malfunction onstage!

4. Develop Great Onstage Posture: Okay, on this one your mother really did know best. When she told you to sit up straight and sit like a lady or to practice walking with books on your head, it was actually good advice. Lifting your head and letting your shoulders drop back and down is the fastest way to give your physique a makeover. You can visually shave 5 to 10 pounds off your silhouette by using correct posture on-stage. To get some inspiration, watch YouTube clips of pageants or purchase the pageant DVD and practice the exact walking pattern in the video. So, take a deep breath, put your best foot forward, and maintain proper posture throughout your competition. With just a little effort you can get top pageant scores onstage!

5. Exude Confidence: Many of the most memorable beauty queens aren’t the most beautiful, but they do exude great confidence on-stage. They have accepted their own physical strengths and weaknesses, and celebrate themselves and how they look. Here’s my pageant coaching advice for you: not only is it okay to like the way you look, you must be excited about your look in order to project confidence! If you have the least little bit of insecurity about the image you’re projecting, the stage lights will magnify that insecurity ten times. Confident contestants can look the judges in the eye knowing that they look their best. And other than a crown, confidence is the best accessory any pageant contestant can possess!