How to Win Talent at Your Pageant
You can’t win a talent pageant unless you’ve got a killer talent. But sometimes that feels easier said than done, right? Even if your talent is a little iffy, you can put together a winning routine. I once worked with a contestant who made it all the way to the Top 5 at her national pageant even though she readily admits that her vocal performance wasn’t great. She used costuming, her background music, and choreographed movements while she was singing to get a winning score with average vocal ability.
Now, I’m sure your talent is much stronger than hers, but even if it’s not here are 4 Steps to Win the Talent Competition at Your Pageant.
Select Talent with Nerves in Mind
The vast majority of contestants can pick from two or possibly even three possible talent options. You might sing and play piano, so you’re having trouble deciding which one to perform at the pageant. Or, maybe you’re trying to decide between interpretive dance or monologue.
The #1 rule of thumb when picking your talent is to go with the one you can perform without appearing nervous. If you’re a whiz a classical piano at home but your hands sweat and slip on the keys onstage, you might want to go with a different talent. Or if you sound out-of-breath and flat in vocal performance may want to go with something else.
Go with a talent where you’ve mastered all the technical skills and that you can perform consistently under pressure. If your talent makes you smile, it will make the judges smile too.
Dress to Kill
Your costume creates the first impression the judges have of your talent presentation. When you walk on stage in a beautifully designed costume that fits you well and is flattering, you’re letting the judges know that they’re about to see an impressive talent presentation.
And your costume doesn’t just have to look good. It also needs to function flawlessly for your particular talent. You don’t want to have pieces falling off here and there in the middle of your performance. It’s smart to take your costume through a couple of dress rehearsals to make sure everything stays put. There’s nothing worse than a wardrobe malfunction.
I’m reminded of a state Miss America titleholder who had a mediocre talent. She wore a stunning gown with a long red scarf. When she came to parts to the song where she struggled, she used the scarf to distract attention, so you didn’t necessarily notice. She won the Talent Award, beating out a classically trained singer, and also captured the crown.
It’s Gotta’ Have Appeal
During the judges’ orientation, judges are often told to score both the technical skill and the audience appeal of a talent routine. But, in reality, they tend to score a talent with low technical skill and high audience appeal higher than a talent with high technical skill and no audience appeal. Because if the judges enjoy your talent presentation, they’re going to score you higher. After all, they’re only human.
So how can you make your talent appealing? Any appealing talent has these three things in common:
- Mastery of each and every skill demonstrated. And just so we know what we’re talking about here mastery is not “I can sort of do it,” or “I can do it most of the time, but sometimes I can’t.” Mastery is “I can do it perfectly every single time.”
- Choreography that flows. Whether your dancing, singing, doing a monologue, playing an instrument, or just standing on your head, you will be moving across the stage. Each movement should be planned, practiced, and tweaked so that you look like a professional entertainer.
- It makes everyone feel good. When people feel good, it makes them smile. And when people smile they generalize that I-feel-good feeling to you. (You remember generalization from Psych 101, don’t you?) And when judges generalize an I-feel-good feeling to you, you get a better score. So, if you’ve got a choice between a dramatic reading with deep emotion that evokes the memory of a tragedy or an upbeat tap number that makes the audience clap their hands, go with the dance. If the judges don’t feel good about your performance, chances are you won’t feel good about your score.
It’s tempting to just do something that you want to do. And you can totally do that. But a smart contestant looks for every opportunity to score points. Taking a strategic approach to your talent will pay off in bigger scores. If you can rack up those bigger scores in each competition category, you’ll end up walking away with the crown.
You can do it!