Posted by: lcowie | December 22, 2008

How to: Pageant

How to: Effectively compete in a pageant

Little-known tips for beginners

By Lesley Cowie

Kirsten Haglund gets crowned as Miss America 2008. Photo courtesy of

Kirsten Haglund gets crowned as Miss America 2008. Photo courtesy of

These days, scholarship pageants mean more than simply walking across a stage in a bathing suit or evening gown. Since the overall “Queen” of the pageant receives a scholarship to be used for academic purposes, pageant administrators expect contestants to have brains and beauty. This simple guide will demonstrate key tips for any beginner to the world of pageantry.

Choosing a platform –

A contestant’s platform is a fundamental element of the pageant. The Queen’s year-long reign aims to raise awareness for her platform. It is important to choose a platform that has personal meaning to you. This way, you will be better prepared to answer questions about your platform during the personal interview with the judges, as well as the on-stage question. Every contestant must complete a platform statement, discussing what she plans to do with her platform. It is best to be as detailed as possible in this statement. You want the judges to know that you truly want to make a difference and help those affected by your platform.

Acing the personal interview –

The most important tip for acing the personal interview is to relax and breathe. It is important to be yourself and to not be intimidated by the judges. They simply want to get to know you, so view the event as a conversation, rather than an interrogation. Many of the questions that the judges ask will pertain to your platform – this where the personal meaning, understanding and research will come into play. Other questions will be based off your fact sheet that you provided as an application. This should be easy because the questions pertain to your daily life. The judges will throw some hypothetical questions to you in order to test how well you can think on your feet. They are not necessarily looking to trick you. You may be interested in searching the Internet for potential interview questions if you would like an understanding of what you may encounter. Be prepared, though, that you might actually hear one of these questions during the interview. You do not want to have a phony, prepared answer. This will defeat the purpose and make you look fake and dishonest. No matter what, remember to be honest and calm. The judges want to see how well you can keep your composure in an intense environment.

Meeting the other contestants –

Although the other contestants are working toward the same crown as you, they should not be your enemies. They will not view you as an enemy, either. A pageant should be an opportunity for you to meet other girls who share the same interests as you and possibly make friends. There is no need to feel inferior or superior toward the other girls or to sabotage another’s chances of winning. It is likely that the other contestants are just as intelligent, kind, talented and beautiful as you are. This should not make you feel inferior or competitive. You should embrace the company you are in and befriend the other ladies. Afterall, there is a part of competition that does not take place on stage – Congeniality. All the contestants vote for their choice for Miss Congeniality, and sometimes this award is more honorable the actual title.

Donning the swimsuit –

This swimsuit is listed as Style 107 on the Jamye Shaw web site. Click the image to view other styles.

This swimsuit is listed as Style 107 on the Jamye Shaw web site. Click the image to view other styles.

This part of the competition is not meant to make anyone feel bad about their body. It has the complete opposite of intentions. The judges are measuring how confident you feel with your body. Choosing the most appropriate bathing suit is the most difficult part. Pageant directors generally give you the option of wearing a one or two-piece suit. Sometimes they allow you the freedom of choosing the color or pattern. It is best to choose colors and styles that suit you. Scandalous bathing suits are not appropriate for this function. You may not want to use the same bathing suit that you use when you go on vacation to the beach. These bathing suits are often more scandalous and are made of cheaper material. A string bikini, or a bathing suit that ties in the back, does not look as classy as a bathing suit with some material and a clasp. These kinds of bathing suits sometimes cost more – many girls purchase their suits from Jamye Shaw. Once you get out on stage, be sure to enjoy the spotlight. The judges want to see how comfortable you feel on stage wearing such an outfit. You will not look comfortable if you walk stiffly or quickly or if you do not smile.

Dancing, singing and miming your way through talent —

In many pageants associated with the Miss America Organization, the talent portion of the competition weighs most heavily in determining the Queen. Everybody has talent. You just have to find yours. Sometimes a unique talent, something other than singing or dancing, can be important because the judges will be genuinely entertained and impressed. If you are singing or dancing, be sure to make appropriate choices. Choose songs that represent your mission as a Queen – do not choose songs with vulgar language or messages. In addition, dress appropriately for the event, as well as the form of talent you plan to present. You may like a particular dress, but the dress may not be your best choice for attire if you plan on doing a jazz or acrobatic routine. For dance routines, be sure not to use suggestive moves that would negatively reflect on the MAO. The Queen is meant to be a role model, and this should be reflected in all areas of competition, as well as off stage.

Scholarship pageants are meant to be fun learning experiences for all, not just the Queen. As a contestant, you will learn about self-confidence, poise, sophistication, humanitarianism, humility and sociability. Rather than feeling upset and forlorn for not winning, it is important to remember that you gave it your best. Perhaps you were not what these judges were looking for. This does not make you a bad person or less prepared to hold the title. The outcome could have been different on a different day with a different panel of judges. Competing in other pageants gives you more practice and experience.

Many web sites offering pageant tips exist on the Internet. These tips come from personal experience and may be less publicized. Hopefully these tips offer insightful information for all those beginners out there.



  1. I am having difficulty coming up with a catchy title for my platform. It involves children’s literacy. Can you help?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: