Worst Ways to Start Your Pageant Interview Answer - Woman Covering Mouth

5 Worst Ways to Start Your Pageant Interview Answer

As I’m sure you know, judges pay attention to everything during your pageant interview. They watch your body language and analyze every single word you say. So, it’s important that each answer has a solid start to capture the attention, and respect, of the judges.

But often, you’re unsure about how to start your answer so you sort of slide into it without any direction. This type of start creates the impression that you don’t have solid content or well-developed interview skills.

To get a top interview score, you’ve got to have a solid start for each answer. And the best way to do that is to avoid the 5 Worst Ways to Start Your Pageant Interview Answer.

1. Uh

You probably already know not to begin your answer with “um”, but are you starting with “uh?” Just like “um,” “uh” is a filler word that is used while you’re thinking of what you want to say.

But when you say “uh,” it’s often a softer sound than when you say “um” so it’s not as obvious when you’re practicing. You might not even notice that you’re saying it. But in the quite interview room, with the focused attention of the judges, it’s just as obvious as “um.”

And if you don’t think it’s just as annoying as “um,” watch a video of Sarah Huckabee Sanders, White House Press Secretary, during a press conference. I think she does a great job handling questions from the press, but her use of “uh” is distracting. It’s so distracting that it’s hard to focus on her answers.

And that’s exactly what will happen if you say “uh” during your interview. At first, the judges will notice it, and then they’ll be distracted by it.

If you need help eliminating “uh” from your interview you can use the same techniques I wrote about to stop saying “um.”

2. So

After “uh” and “um,” “so” is the next most common way that contestants begin an answer. Because it’s a real word, you might be tempted to use it to start an answer too. It’s not quite as noticeable or irritating as “uh,” but your judges will notice if you begin every answer with “so.”

You may be using “so” as a crutch to get your answer started. But it’s best to avoid common starter words. Typically contestants use “so” when they’re giving an “explanation” answer. You know, you’re explaining what inspired you to create your platform or why you selected a particular college. Instead of using a starter word to begin your answer, it’s best to jump right in with your content.

When you practice, listen for the word “so” at the beginning of each answer. If you say “so” that’s a clue that you should lead with your content, instead of a transition word or phrase.

Judges are always impressed by a contestant who’s not afraid to jump right in with her content.

3. Honestly

You’re probably surprised to see “honestly” on the list, right? You think using “honestly” at the beginning of an answer indicates that you’re being genuine or feel strongly about your answer.

And that would be true if you were having a regular conversation. But you’re not. The moment you say “honestly” at the beginning of an answer, the judges wonder if your other answers have not been entirely honest.

As a contestant you’re in a persuasive role, meaning you’re trying to persuade the judges to vote for you. Communications studies show that when someone in a persuasive role says “honestly” that the listener immediately begins to wonder if everything before that statement was a lie. And when these same speakers delivered the same content without saying “honestly,” the listener did not question the truth of the information.

In addition to avoiding “honestly,” you should also avoid saying “to be honest with you,” “truthfully,” or “to tell the truth.”

By avoiding these phrases, you will actually increase your credibility during your pageant interview. Weird, right?

4. I Would Have To Say

There are several versions of this commonly used starter phrase:

  • I would have to say.
  • I would definitely say.
  • I would definitely have to say.

It’s perfectly okay to use one of these phrases a couple of times during your interview, but you cannot begin every answer with one of these three phrases. That’s just not going to get you a great interview score.

While it’s always best to use a content-based starter phrase, that’s not always possible. It’s helpful to have some standard starter phrases in your back pocket to use in a pinch. Make a list of three or four different starter phrases and use them to begin some of your answers when you’re practicing. That way you won’t be tempted to use the same starter phrase during your personal or on-stage interview.

5. I Am Passionate

The words “passion” and “passionate” are the two most overused words in pageantry. I recently judged a pageant where a contestant used “passionate” three times in one answer. So, it’s not a big surprise that “I am passionate” is the #1 most overused phrase.

Studies show that when a speaker uses an overused word or phrase that the listener doesn’t really “hear” what you’re saying. If you say, “I am passionate about…” they actually hear is, “Blah, blah, blah…” Overused phrases have no meaning to the listener.

For example, if you say, “I’m passionate about my personal platform…” the judges attach no meaning to what you said. They think you sound just like all the other contestants who claim to be passionate about their platform. You don’t stand out – you blend in.

When you’re tempted to say “I am passionate,” go with other phrases that have the same meaning. “I am dedicated to” or “I am committed to” are just two of the choices to use instead.

Remember, how you begin sets the tone and direction of your answer. If you rely on one of these words or phrases more than once during your interview, it’s going to impact your score. With just a little focus and practice you’ll be able to start each answer in a way that positively impacts your interview score.

I believe in YOU!