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Thursday, May 24, 2018

4 MAJOR Interview Mistakes to Avoid

Here are four common interview mistakes that keep you from winning the crown! Take a peek at these points below then COMMENT below - what do you think? Would you add anything to this list?

1. Seeing the crown as the "fix".
There's nothing wrong with you now. There's nothing wrong with you volunteering as "you" vs. "Miss State". To say that you will do something "if this happens..." or "as soon as..." is not the way to think. Believing that everything will align and be perfect once you win is not realistic. Sure, you may get more attention in a room with a crown on your head, but a crown does not define you or make you worthy. Start acting like that titleholder now...stop thinking the crown will solve everything and get out their and make an impact as YOU first. The crown should compliment you, not make you.

2. Only thinking about yourself. 
Yes, you will gain attention and resources from winning the pageant...but what will the pageant gain from choosing you? So many contestants focus on how winning the pageant will help them, but few consider how they can help the pageant. Remember, you are interviewing for a job. The judges are choosing you to represent the pageant for a one-year term in this job position. What do YOU bring to the table? How will YOU benefit the organization? Stop thinking about "the pageant will help me do this and that" and instead, think about recruitment of contestants, attracting sponsors, building a social and traditional media presence, etc.

3. Negative talk.
Saying something is "obvious" or "like I just said" is rude. Making the judge feel like they missed something is rude. OR even worse...some contestants say "that's a great question"...were the other questions not great? Were they not up to your level? How about "this may sound silly" or "this may sound cliche"? Stop putting negative talk into your interview! Focus on being the positive person that they want to hire for the year. Also, please refrain from speaking negatively about other pageant systems. All you are doing is drawing attention to your negative mindset. 

4. Forgetting to think about the next step.
What is next for your platform? How will it grow? How will you take it from local to a state or national level? Where will you get the funds? How will you gain publicity? Etc etc. Some contestants focus on the here and now TOO much. Instead, give some thought! This also goes for "problems". If you are saying something is a problem, assume they are also asking you what the solution might be. For example, "Given the gun violence that is plaguing our nation, do you feel safe in school?" To just say yes or no is juvenile and boring. Instead, complete the thought with automatically telling the judge WHY you feel this way. Bonus points if you can continue the statement and make suggestions for how schools can increase safety...and yes, you want those bonus points. Stop being small minded and think about the next step...without being told to do so. 

If you are ready to improve your interview, download our FREE "5 Ways to Improve Your Interview" workbook here:

Thursday, March 1, 2018

If You Didn't Win This Year, Would You Come Back Next Year?

Has a judged ever asked you: "if you didn't win this year, would you come back next year?"

If so, you probably automatically thought: "Um, why not just crown me this year so we don't have to find out?" But hopefully you didn't say that! Lol!

Here are something to consider if a judge has asked you this...they may want to know about your:

  • Work ethic
  • Attitude
  • Long term goals
  • Short term goals
Work ethic: are you the type of person who gives up when knocked down? Or do you get back up when you fall down and come back even stronger?

Attitude: Are you the type of person who is a sore loser? Or would you revise your strategy/prep and come back to win it next time?

Long Term Goals: Do you have other goals for yourself next year? Is competing just a one-time thing for you? Where do you see yourself next year?

Short Term Goals: Why now? Why you? Why must you win this year? What makes you the best candidate for the title right now?

POSSIBLE ways to tackle this question:
  • Most definitely! I have loved my experience with this program thus far and I would have the year to work on becoming an even stronger me...
  • Yes, I believe in working hard and setting goals...and I don't give up easily! But I also feel very confident that I am very qualified to win this year because...
  • Yes, but I ready to represent this amazing program, its values, and its mission as a titleholder. I'm also eager to continue empowering young women, as the state titleholder...

So before you get frustrated with your judge, take a moment to think about WHY they are really asking the question (ANY question). They could be digging a little deeper to see what you're really about ;)


Thursday, February 1, 2018

How to Handle When You Don't Win

Let's be real: sometimes you compete in a pageant and do not win. But "rejection" is something you will handle often in life and things like pageants, sports, and competition prepare you to handle such difficult situations.

Instead of storming off after a non-win, causing a scene, or having family members trash the pageant online or elsewhere, here's a few suggestions on how to handle life when you don't win:

1. Acknowledge your emotions
You are upset. I know. I've been there myself. Allow yourself some time to be upset and then allow yourself to regroup. Do not do anything you may end up regretting like going on Facebook Live or making an Instagram/Snapchat story about it.

Convince yourself that it was no big deal and remind yourself that the world is still turning. You have to keep moving forward or you will be left behind.

2. Be nice to yourself
Don't run off saying that you are horrible OR you are not the right size for this pageant OR you are not pretty enough. Do NOT say those things to yourself. Do not hurt yourself; be nice to yourself.

Instead, make a list of things that make you great/awesome/cool. Make a list of things you are thankful for. Go out and do some fun stuff with your family. Be nice to yourself by taking care of yourself. Do not mentally or physically harm yourself - you deserve better than that.

3. Do not let the crown define you
Yes, it would have been awesome if you won. Yes, it would have been a super cool year. But, do not allow the lose to define you, make you feel a certain way, or make you feel like you are not amazing without the crown on your head.

Remember that whatever you said you wanted to do WITH the crown is still possible. For example, you can still volunteer, you can still meet with government officials about things that are important to you, and you can still be a role model to others.

The crown does not define you, your opportunities, or your future. You define those things.

4. Seek feedback
Always. Always seek feedback. Your director/pageant may have a formal process for this (like National American Miss automatically sends scores and comments, but some pageants require that you call them to request the information).

Sometimes the feedback can provide you valuable insight into what the judges saw that you may not have realized. For example, maybe they thought you spoke too quickly in interview or walked too slow on stage. Seek the feedback and use it to help you prepare for your next event.

Make sure you are polite and positive when seeking feedback. Do not be demanding, rude, or offensive in any way. Be professional - do not burn your bridges.

Note: some pageants do not provide feedback. In this case, take your pageant dvd to a REAL pageant coach and get some feedback. Do not rely on family or friends for feedback, as they might be biased towards you OR may not be professional pageant people.

5. Be sure to remain positive (and express this need to your family/friends too)
Too often, I see non-winning contestants and their families storm out of the theatre/ballroom and cause a scene. Yelling, screaming, NOT do this.

Be a professional. Yes, you may be upset, but the world goes on. There is always next time (or another pageant).

Handle yourself like the "professional" you told the judges you are. Collect your belongings, take a few photos to remember/note the learning experience, go home, and relax. Breathe. Learn.

Think about what could have been done differently, make some goals to focus on, see your coach, and try again.

Things happen - we get knocked down. But dust yourself off, don't get offended, just try again.

REMEMBER: not winning is okay! You will survive and you can always try another pageant or try again. Use each competition as a learning experience - next time you may be more confident, stand taller, or even be able to handle those interview questions with greater ease. Use every competition to grow and build yourself because hey, isn't that what pageantry is about anyway?

Flip the Script: - use a coach/professional to figure out where/what you can improve and start working on it so you can be your personal best in your next adventure. Also, think about making a list of what you gained from competing in the first place - maybe you didn't win the crown, but you may have walked away with greater confidence, experience interviewing, stronger public speaking skills and more! Sometimes focusing on what you did walk away with can be more empowering that walking away with the crown! Remember: it is NOT 'sometimes you win and sometimes you lose' --- instead think of it this way: 'sometimes you win and sometimes you learn'!


Monday, January 1, 2018

5 Keys to Last Minute Interview Prep

Some of us do not prepare adequately for a pageant interview. Some of us decide to 'get in the zone' when we arrive at the pageant. While this TERRIFIES me, here are a few things you can do if you ever catch yourself needing some last minute interview prep:

1. Create a wining look: nothing revealing, great quality of fabric, good color, hair combed and sprayed away from your face, makeup on point (depending on your age division)

2. Know the general details about your pageant: the full name, the director, the motto/slogan/values etc

3. Know the general details about yourself/have your main messages ready: you should walk into interview knowing what you would like the judges to know about you. If you want them to know you are an honor roll student, for example, but never mention it, how will you be able to sell yourself to the judges? Don't just go in for a question and answer section, go in with a purpose.

4. Review your resume: know what your highlights (strengths/weaknesses/talents/abilities/experiences) are, know your achievements, understand your goals etc

5. Settle yourself: breathe, drink a bit of water (not too much to make you run to the bathroom during the interview), and review why you want this job/to win prior to walking in the interview room

While I never condone rushed practicing, it happens. Stuff happens. But before you walk into the pageant interview room, if you focus on what the judges must know about you and are confident in what you are saying, you will be much better off than the girl who has not prepared at all.

Friday, December 1, 2017

What is a pageant non-compete clause?

A non-compete clause in the pageant world means that you agree to NOT compete elsewhere (in another pageant) until your year as the titleholder is complete.

Many pageants previously had strict non-compete clauses at the state level, but now, many have waived those at the state level and only keep them at the national level.

These clauses are meant to help the pageant. More specifically, if you have agreed to represent a particular pageant for one year, that means that you should be dedicated to doing appearances for them, marketing them on social media, attending events with government officials and people of importance etc...solely for the one pageant. The clause is meant to help girls not have to represent multiple programs/values/crowns/sashes at one time.

Some get grumpy about non-compete clauses because it prevents them from competing for one year. The way I see it: if you so badly wanted the "job" of being the titleholder, you should want to hold that job for the year and only that job. If not, don't compete there.

Worth noting is that some pageants still have these clauses at the state level, but they can be waived with permission of the director. Always inquire about a pageant's competition clause BEFORE agreeing to compete.


  • Ask before competing
  • Read everything you sign
  • Be very clear on the expectations and responsibilities of being a titleholder

Wednesday, November 1, 2017

5 Things You Must Know ABOUT Your Pageant BEFORE Competing

Competing for a pageant is much like interviewing for a job. So, it is very important to understand certain things about the pageant before agreeing to interview for it. Just like you would research a company before a job interview to learn about it, you should research things about your pageant before competing.

When preparing for interview, most contestants just review common questions...BUT the contestants who take it a step further and truly understand the pageant organization will always be one step ahead.

Here are "5 Things You Must Know About Your Pageant BEFORE Competing":

  • Basic facts: 
    • For example, the full name of the pageant, the motto/slogan of the pageant, the main competition categories, how you fit in this pageant, who the director is, what the prize package AND responsibilities are for winning
  • What they want: your main goal is to convince the judges that you are the best candidate for the job of "titleholder" so you have to understand what they want in a titleholder first to be able to adequately tell them why you are perfect for the job
    • Some pageants send a handbook/notebook/website section detailing particular qualities they are looking for - note those and KNOW how you fit them (and be able to communicate that)
    • Research and understand what former titleholders have done and be explain how you can expand on it
  • The culture: what drives this pageant
    • Research the mission statement and values and be able to articulate how you fit these
    • Take a peek at the rules (they exist for a reason)
      • For example, if there is a "no makeup under 12 rule" it is probably because they value girls being you now know that a low cut gown or super long train on a little one is NOT the best idea
    • Note: the culture is what SELLS a pageant. For example, if talent is highly valued at one pageant and not at another, you can choose to compete or not. To not understand the culture is silly.
  • Recent news:
    • Maybe the pageant changed the age groups, or expanded into a new state, or is currently moving their national MUST know what is going on if you plan to represent the program
    • Note: you can often find such details on social media and on the pageant website
  • Competitors
    • What makes this pageant different than others? Well, why did YOU choose it?
    • Example: many judges have asked Miss America (MAO) contestants how MAO differs from should know this if you are competing in one of these programs
    • To understand the competition is to understand the pageant; you must come into the interview with a solid working knowledge of the pageant you are competing else can you expect to represent it?

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

How To WIN The Photogenic Competition

A number of pageants today have a "most photogenic" competition. This is where judges will choose from a number of photos who happens to look best in photos. This can be determined by a number of factors...I hope that by sharing these factors with you today, you will be much more likely to WIN your next photogenic competition!

NOTE: if you'd like to get our complete Guide To Great Photos, here is the link to the FREE download of the e-book:

1. The photo matches what the director is looking for
Well-prepared pageants will instruct their judges on what they are looking for in a contestant and in their photos. For example, if the pageant/director is looking for someone who is "glamorous" and "model-like", a judge is more likely to look for a photo that isn't exactly natural, has a glam factor in wardrobe and jewelry, and tends to give more of a model look vs a "girl next door" vibe.

Tip: take a moment to review your pageant guidelines to see what the pageant is looking for to determine which type of photo you should submit (sometimes your pageant paperwork will explain this clearly; for example, the USA Ambassador pageant has two categories and describes them clearly in their paperwork - they divide the competitions as "glamour photogenic" and "natural photogenic"). When in doubt, politely inquire with your director.

Example: This photo of Sanjana helped her secure the WIN for her photogenic category because it was happy, age appropriate, had a great color for her skin tone, and was fun and different than other girls in her group. It was also appropriately edited and not overdone for her age.

2. The photo makes the judge feel something positive
Does the photo make someone smile or frown? Is the photo so sexy that it would make a judge uncomfortable or does it look so happy that the judge will smile in response?

Tip: Again, take a peek at your photo requirements and adhere to them.

Example: This smile and direct eye contact in this photo connect with the judges easily. The top is not super low, the jewelry is appropriate, and the look on our coach's face is genuinely happy and appealing...a judge would sure smile back at this photo!

3. The photo has the girl as the main focus
Do not have tons of white/extra space in the photo...zoom in and have the girl as the main focus. Also eliminate extra things like trees, other people, distracting colors/prints/patterns etc. Do not lose points because you have extra stuff distracting the judge; the judge is scoring the girl in the photo, not the extras.

Tip: Judges should not be distracted by other things in the photo. Distractions tend to lead to lower scores because the judge is not focused on you.

Example: Note how Mya's photo does not have a lot of white/background space! This photo is cropped well/close to her face to feature and highlight HER!

4. The photo is styled well as a whole
Yes, colors, fit of clothing, style, etc ALL matter in the photo.

  • If your top is see through, a judge will be distracted by the problems in the photo vs the positives. 
  • If you are wearing black and take a photo against a black background, you will fade in VS stand out in the photo. 
  • If you have a ton of fly away hairs VS combed, sprayed, and polished hair, a judge will be distracted by the crazy hair vs your polished, clean look. 
  • Also, consider things like lighting and having a professional photo vs one in a selfie format.
  • Some things you do not need: crowns, sashes, purses, long white gloves, tons of background (crop the photo instead), excessive bracelets etc

Tip: Take the time to style your photo well. If possible, take a peek at previous winners and note how polished or well styled the photo is. It is very likely that it is a photo that is done by a professional photographer and has a complete look where the girl is the main feature.

Example: Harper's photo added a little bit of personal style and spunk by adding this flower headband. Also, this photo WON her photogenic category for her because of the color coordination and happy/genuine smile on her face!

Overall, judges are looking for a winner who looks great in photos, who is the main focus of the picture, and meets the requirements of the pageant. Many photos can have these may come down to personal opinions on colors, head tilts, clothing choices etc. Be sure to choose what you look best in and feel best in so that is reflected in the picture and helps you secure the win!

NOTE: if you'd like to get our complete, 9-page Guide To Great Photos, here is the link to the FREE download of the e-book: