I always encourage girls to try different pageant systems because different systems look for and offer different things. However, when competing, I find that many girls do not ask the director all of the questions they should be asking. It is important to ask the right questions so you do not end up regretting your year, having to give up your title, or wishing you never competed in the first place. You should also be asking the right questions so you can have the best experience possible!
Here is my list of 7 questions that YOU should be asking BEFORE you compete:
1. What sort of paperwork is involved?
Is there an application? Resume for the judges (if so, how many copies should I bring)? Are there emcee cards? Are there optional contests to enter (and if so, what paperwork is needed for that)? Do I need a headshot for a program book? Is there a program book card?
You do not want to be the ONE girl at registration who did not know about a resume. You do not want to be the girl in the program book who is missing her headshot OR a required ad page. It is important to know what paperwork is involved, from beginning to end, so you are as prepared as possible.
2. Is there a non-compete clause involved?
After your crowning moment is over, you may be asked to sign some paperwork. This is not the time you want to be hit with a "non-compete clause" or other clauses that you were not aware of until after your special moment. It is important to ask (before you compete), what the contract requires of you.
In the pageant world, a non-compete clause means that you will not compete elsewhere during the year of your. This means that once you win that title, you are their titleholder until you crown your successor and you cannot compete in other pageants until you give up this title. Again, you do not want to figure this out AFTER your crowning.
3. Are there required or suggested appearances?
Some pageants require a particular number of appearances during your year as a titleholder. And some pageants will take your title back if you do not complete this requirement. It is very important to know if there is a required number of appearances for your year OR if there is a suggested amount. If so, you should ask (before the pageant) how you are to go about booking these appearances. Some pageants have booking directors or business managers that handle this detail...but many do not. It is important to figure out (before you compete) if this is something you will be required to figure out.
4. How involved will my director be in my year?
It is unfortunate that some pageants do not have super involved directors...yet, some do. It is important to figure out how involved your director will be in your year as a titleholder because you may want them to help you prepare for nationals, help you book appearances etc. If they are not involved, you may end up disappointed during your experience.
5. What exactly are you looking for in a titleholder?
Are you looking for an ambassador? Are you looking for a year-long volunteer who will go out and recruit girls? Are you looking for someone who will just show up next year and crown her successor? What exactly do you want and like in an ideal titleholder?
It is important to know what your 'job' requires so you can be the best titleholder possible. It is also important to know what is required of you so when you are speaking in the interview room, you can speak intelligently about the job.
Maybe your director is looking for someone who will help build the brand/company/organization! If this is not something you can fit into your schedule, it is very important to know this in advance of winning! I know you would not be happy if you had to give your title back because you did not fulfill the requirements.
Also, it would be good to know what is expected of you. Are you expected to pay for nationals yourself (entry fees, ad pages, optionals, etc)? Are you expected to turn in a silent auction basket or raise money for a charity? Are you expected to make a specific number of appearances during your year? These are just some of the questions you should be asking to understand what is really desired in a titleholder (for that specific system).
6. Are pageant coaches allowed? What about hair and makeup people? What about my mom backstage?
Some pageants do not allow pageant coaches to be involved. Some pageants do not allow hair and makeup people in the dressing room. And some pageants only allow the youngest age group to have a mom backstage.
It is important to know what is and is not allowed backstage so that you are not breaking any rules. You do not want to be labeled or blacklisted because you cannot follow rules; trust me, people talk.
7. How can I get feedback? Are scores automatically sent to me? What about comments?
Some pageants automatically send you feedback. Some pageants require that you pay a small fee ahead of time for your feedback.
Please note that comments and scores are two different things. Sometimes you may just get the number score the judges gave you (for example, 1-10), sometimes you may get comments (for example, "walk slower in evening wear" etc), and sometimes you can get both. This is the jackpot! Use these comments and scores for your personal development! Read over these without getting angry and figure out where you can improve - feedback is gold!
Do not get angry if you have to pay for feedback - many times, pageant offices have to sort through 100s of judges forms to find specific contestants, they then type up all of the comments (whichever they can decipher to be honest), stamp, and mail your comments. This requires human labor - this cannot be automatically done. I try to never take offense when a pageant has a fee for something because it usually means that someone is actually working 'behind the scenes' to make that something happen. Also, do not get angry if you want feedback and then after the pageant, find out that you cannot get it. If feedback was important to you, you should have inquired prior to the pageant to find out if it would be available.
Some pageant coaches, like myself, love to see your videos. Videos/dvds can say a lot! This allows for a professional to evaluate your performance and give you feedback. Let me honest and say that not all pageant judges are professionals.
There are many questions that you should ask before competing! Make sure you are asking the right questions so you have the best experience possible.
<3 Let me know if you have any questions or comments. I'd love to hear from you!