During our in-studio session today, she sparked a small conversation about a BV friend, wanting to know how she was doing. I mentioned that she was "not working with me right now because she is waiting for a bigger pageant". To which she quickly replied, "but shouldn't we always prepare?! You can't stop preparing! You have to get experience on stage in the smaller pageants to build and learn for the bigger ones!" To which I replied with a "OMG" and a high five - she had got it. She understood! Talk about an "Aha" moment!
I often get asked, "how far ahead should I start preparing for my pageant?" Well, my honest answer is that "you never stop preparing".
In preparation for your 'next pageant', you should constantly be:
- Volunteering: this allows you to develop your resume, interpersonal skills, real job skills, communication skills, and more. Also, as you 'age up', you will start developing a platform - something you are passionate about and may have to speak on during interview or at a public appearance. You will not be able to really hone a platform if you do not start discovering what else is out there.
- Developing or expanding your hobbies: you need things to say in interview. If you do nothing outside of pageants, how can you answer interview questions like:
- What is your favorite hobby?
- What do you like to do with friends?
- What do you do in your free time?
- What is your favorite activity?
- What is your favorite sport?
- What is your special talent?
- Developing personally/interview skills: Are you making new friends? Are you reading books? Are you aware of current events? Are you speaking up in class? Are you trying new things? Make sure you are constantly improving on who you are so that the BEST YOU shines through in interview. If you cannot hold a conversation with a judge because you "don't read books" or "don't know who the President is"...oh boy.
- Staying fit: who wants to buy an entirely new wardrobe 3 weeks before their pageant and drop roughly $1000 (in gas, clothes, tailoring etc) just because they ate poorly since their last pageant etc? Not me, buddy.
- Please note that I said "staying fit", not "skinny" or "super thin" etc. What is healthy for one body may not be healthy for another. Make sure you are on an eating plan that is good for you, that you are staying active, and keeping that heart healthy. And let's admit it: pageant weekend (or week) is not easy- you need all the stamina you can get with those late night rehearsals and early morning appearances. Help yourself out and work out at least 30 minutes each day!
- Working out CAN consist of dance, sports, zumba, etc. Do not limit yourself.
- Everyone should be working on living a healthy lifestyle, regardless of age. As a titleholder, you are a role model for other young women. Be someone who is healthy, happy to be alive, and eager to fully participate in her year as a titleholder.
If you want a flat out answer to the original question, you should start preparing at least 6-8 months ahead of your pageant date. If you have been keeping up with all of the above, you have some leeway. Congrats. Not much, but some. If you have not been utilizing your time well, do not freak out. You can always make things happen...but who wants to rush things or cram things? Take your time and prepare so you feel your most comfortable and your most accomplished at the end of each day (and each pageant)!
Before your next pageant, I recommend that:
- You get all of the contestant handbook/guidebook materials as soon as they become available for your competition year.
- If you are working with a coach (of any kind - vocal, dance, pageant, trainer, etc), make sure they understand the guidelines you are working in. There is NO REASON why your talent is 2 minutes long when the guidelines said 1 minutes and 30 seconds. Did you read the guidebook? Did you give a copy to the person helping you? Even if YOU missed the detail, the person you are working with should be keen enough to pick out the detail PRIOR to the pageant.
- If you are NOT working with a coach (of any kind), you will want to review the materials yourself, line by line. Do not skip a section. You need to be as well-informed as possible. Even if you participated in the program the year before, things may have changed!
- Work on developing your interview.
- We grow everyday. We learn new things everyday. As you grow and learn, your answers may change. You need to constantly be on top of your interview skills; 4 weeks before is NOT the time to start cramming current events, platform statistics, or new vocabulary words.
- Find somewhere to constantly stay on top of your skills.
- You have seen those pageant TV shows and I know you have wondered about how they do a pageant EVERY weekend. Well, they are smart! They are never letting their skills go dry and they are constantly practicing and perfecting their routines so when they get to 'the big one', they have been ready and in 'pageant mode' for months. The first time they are doing their routine is not just 'at the big one', but it was months ago so she had time to notice her mistakes and correct them.
- Find someone to hold you accountable/a pageant manager.
- Mom may love you. Dad may love you. But really, they are biased. And sometimes, you can be sassy with them. You need to find someone who will hold you accountable and make you work hard, regardless of sass. That's something I do as a coach. That's something your fitness trainer or dance choreographer could do. You need someone to hold you accountable, make sure you are following all of the pageant's guidelines, have everything you need etc. I love my job and I sometimes feel like a 'pageant career manager', but I know that I am needed. You may not need a full time coach, but if ANYTHING you read above is brand new or somewhat new, you need to call me!
Moral of the story: You should never stop preparing for competition. There is always a girl aging up from a division or a girl who has been competing for years that will challenge you at your next pageant. The key to winning is constant preparation - I am NOT saying that you should eat, sleep, & breathe pageants, but you should be constantly developing the skills necessary to win/do well, if you really want it.
- Do a smaller pageant to build confidence or work on your routines (you can get scores and comments from judges to help you develop your skills for next time). Do NOT get stuck on only 'winning the big one'.
- Stay up on your current events, interview skills, image, and personal development.
- Volunteer in your local community so you have things to talk about and so you develop real communication and interpersonal skills.
- Develop hobbies so you can compete for talent competitions, step outside of your comfort zone, stay fit, meet new people etc.
If you have any questions, I'd love to help answer them! Reach out and let's find some solutions!
<3 All my love,