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Friday, October 18, 2013

The Fatal Competition Mistake

Eye contact is one of the most important non-verbal channels of communication that we have. Eye contact gives the unconscious signal that trust is in the air. When you avoid looking a judge directly in the eyes, you are signaling a lack of confidence and really, that you do not want that crown.

In interview, your message will go where your voice goes and your voice will go where your eyes send it. If you are sending a message to the ceiling, look at the ceiling. If you are sending a message to the judge's eyebrows, then talk to the eyebrows. But I believe (and correct me if I am wrong) that when you are in an interview (pageant or job), that you are sending your message directly to someone - the judge or the interviewer. Stop wasting time look all over the place and send your message straight to the eyes. I'm not telling you to be creepy and stare them down - naturally, we as humans look away for a second to process something, but look the judge in the eye when answering. Not doing so could signal lying or lack of confidence.

The same rule applies on stage. If you want the judge to "pick you", you need to send that message to the judge. Why some girls look at the back of the ballroom or above a judge's head is beyond me - is the back of the ballroom or a bald spot scoring you? You must look the judge in the eye to be taken seriously. Again, no scary stares, please, but send me the message that you are confident in what you are doing on that stage. And for heavens sake, don't 'turn it on' when you are directly in front of the judges; use that walk on time wisely too.

You can always add a smile in that interview room or on stage too! A smile is the best way to put your best foot forward. Just like yawns or sneezes, smiles can be contagious too. While a judge is asking a question or you are preparing on walk on stage, smile. Break the barrier. While on stage, always smile. Avoid creepiness, as always, but smile to say "I'm approachable," "I'm happy to be here", and "I'm confident".

Combine that smile and direct eye contact and you can definitely improve your score. Radiate and give off the idea that you are confident, happy, and approachable; that's never failed anyone.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

How To Connect With Your Judges

Preparing for the interview competition is no easy task, but you and I both know that a pageant is won in interview room. This is where you get to talk about yourself and convince the judges that YOU are the one to "hire" or choose for the job at hand. But, how can you connect with judges and make them choose you?

If you're in the Miss America system, depending on your age group, you have 8-10 minutes to connect with your judges via a panel interview. In the USA system, you have about 3 minutes in a panel interview to make a connection. In NAM/IJM/MAC, you have one-minute with each judge in a "move table to table" setup. And if you're in USA Ambassador, you have 3 minutes with each judge in the "move table to table" format.

Each system, regardless of minutes with your judges, wants someone who can connect, so how do you do that? Keep reading:

1. Connect with personality.
If you feel the need to laugh, do it. If you feel the need to use your hands, do so, but sparingly. Package your personality to reflect the right blend of authority and approachability so you get the right amount of attention from the judges. 

Know what your personality type is and know that each judge has a different personality type. For example:

  • If you are a dreamer, do not be indecisive. Pick a side and go with it, but understand why you are going in that direction.
  • If you are an analyst, are you missing out on the big picture? Are you overly critical?
  • If you are a persuader, do you over exaggerate?
  • If you are a controller, how well do you process feedback? Are you stubborn or argumentative?
2. Know the nature of your business.
  • Do your personal values and beliefs connect with the organization you want to represent? 
  • What does this pageant do and how can you contribute to its success?
  • How can you give the pageant more direction or meaning?
3. Find your style.
  • Create a link between how you look and how you can work to gain the competitive edge. When you enter the room, you are sending an unspoken message - your present style or manner says a lot about you, so make sure the message is one that benefits you.
  • Image has a very real impact on your ability to convince people, and like it or not, wardrobe plays a big part in those crucial opening seconds of your interview, when you are scrambling to make that connection. This is why BV does pageant prep AND image consulting; the image is half the package!
  • Dress for the job you want, not the job you have. Let your judges picture you making presentations to other young women, not heading to the gym or the club.

You never know who will be your judge at an upcoming pageant, but you can do your best to prepare to be your personal best when you do face the judges. Understand your personality and how you can best present it to your judges. Know your pageant system and what you can bring to it. And finally, when you look and feel your best, you can present your best self.

Do not underestimate this post because it presents only three points; these are three major details to convincing your panel that you are the girl to choose. Of course, your interview skills must match up to what the judges desire in a winner (and that's a totally different blog post), but by combining these three points with your impeccable interview skills, you are bound for interview success, high scores, and making a real connection with your judges.