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Thursday, December 26, 2013

The thing about "pageant platforms"...

Many of you reading this blog may have never heard about a "pageant platform" so let me start at the beginning. Don't worried, I won't be long-winded.

What: a platform is a subject matter you can spend years talking about and not get frustrated about it. You could make appearances on the subject matter every day and not get tired. It is something you are passionate about or as my friend Keith Scott put it, it is sometimes what makes you angry or upset.

For example: Are you passionate about dance? Does homelessness make you upset?

How to develop it: in the Miss America program, you are required to write a platform statement and submit it with your resume to the judges. However, a platform is something every pageant girl should develop, regardless of what pageant system she is involved in. A platform can be the legacy we leave behind as 'pageant girls'; it is the impact we can have on our world.

Do not just do one event and say it is your platform. Really dig in and develop it. Could you organize your own events? Could you find an organization that involves the same thing (i.e. disaster relief and the Red Cross) and get involved with them? You can develop your platform by making it a 'more than one time' occasion. A platform is something you live, love, and enjoy frequently. Make a list of every way possible you could expand on your platform and go for it. It need not happen tomorrow, but a platform should have an action plan - this is where I am, this is what I have done, and this is where I am going.

Talk about it in interview: Nicholas Boothman says that "it's much easier to be convincing if you care about your topic. Figure out what's important to you about your message and speak from the heart."

Figure out why you love your message or cause and speak on it often. The words will come to you in interview much easier if you have a short story from an experience or event. The words will come easier if you are actively involved and are actively engaged in its development and growth.

Do not: do not throw out vague ideas. For example: yes, you can 'spread awareness', but how will you do it? How will you have an impact? Can you throw out some stats? Have you done research?

Pageant platforms are not silly things and they do not develop in a single day. You must invest some time, do some research, and really want to see something come out of your work. As mentioned above, a platform can be your legacy - it can be the impact you have on the world around you...and it takes more than just two days to have an impact. Let me know if you need any help with your platform, I'm here to help!

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. 

Monday, September 16, 2013

Lessons learned from the Miss America pageant

I hope everyone had the chance to tune into the Miss America pageant on Sunday, Sept 15th 2013. What an amazing group of young women! I think I heard Chris say something like - this started with 13,000 contestants around the

Having been a contestant in the local and state Miss America levels of competition, I am well aware of what these young women went through to prepare for their state pageants...and even the national pageant. Here's just a few lessons I wanted to remind you of after watching this evening:

1. No matter what happens, you keep going.

Miss Florida fell and injured her leg in her preliminary competition rehearsal. She was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with having torn her ACL - according to my brother, this took some major football player out for a whole season. She came back that night, re-choreographed in her head, and won the preliminary talent award for her evening. She also went on to compete in the entire finale and place in the top five at the national pageant. Yes, no matter what happens, if you truly want it, you keep going. No excuses.

2. Regardless of what people say, yes, you can be the first.  

Nina won this pageant as the first South Asian American female in its 93-year history to win it. She was also one of two this year to do a bollywood dance on that stage to a traditional Indian song, in traditional Hindi (she did not change to an English track), and won. Regardless of what people tell you, sometimes you can indeed be the first. Yes, she excelled in other phases of competition too, so there is plenty of prep involved, but if you want something, work for it and do it.

3. Fitness matters.

Many of these girls were crowned within weeks of the national pageant. Fitness will matter tremendously at state pageants! Do not be fooled. And think about how much they talked about weight in the "Pageant Confidential" special prior to the show and addressed Miss America 2013 (Mallory) specifically. This is a job where you are a role model...and where you are on the road 30/31 days per month, you must take care of yourself.

4. Winning a pageant is no joke, it is a job.

Many of us compete because we want to win. Many compete, win, and waste a year. How many girls
would have loved to have won and had your title? How many wanted to opportunity to travel, meet others, network, promote that system and more? Stop wasting your year as a titleholder and get to work. And if you are not yet a titleholder, be ready to tell those judges what you will spend your year doing. I'm tired of seeing titleholders waste their year as a titleholder and as a 'job-holder'. Be prepared to work if you are crowned - Mallory started a social media revolution in the pageant world as Miss America. She tweeted, snap-chatted, facebooked and more. She was real, she was in touch, and she kept the brand alive and active. What will you do with your new job? In the interview room, what are you saying to convince them to hire YOU?

Just some thoughts to consider...<3

Thursday, September 12, 2013

You go blank...

You walk into the interview room looking and feeling fantastic. You carry yourself through the first few questions with a smile and conviction and then it hear a question and blank.

You know you have heard of the topic before and you know you had an opinion on it. You start to sweat and shake a bit - you know they can see you freaking out and can hear your heart popping from your chest.

You do not have any notes in this interview, so what do you do?

Wait, you do have notes! In your head, silly!

Lesson: if you really want to prepare for interview, do not be lazy and just run questions in the shower or in the mirror. Take the time to write some notes and review them...often.

Example: watch the news for a few minutes and jot down all of the important topics you think would be interview question worthy. Switch the news off then jot down your opinions on each topic - how does something make you feel? What is important about this issue? What is your position on this issue? Is there another side to the argument, even if you do not agree with it? etc

Once you have these basic notes, come back in a day or so and review them. Have your thoughts or opinions changed? Have you learned more about this topic since you first heard of it? How can you expand your thoughts on this subject matter? Jot those down and revise/update when necessary.

After a week or so of really giving these topics thought, move to another section in your notebook and note the topic and two or three major bullet points for each topic/question. Review this section weekly until your interview (revising and updating opinions if needed). Come pageant weekend, do not leave your pageant interview notebook at home while at the pageant - take it with you! Review it before your interview so your thought process and main answers are still fresh in your mind.

Ok, back to the interview room - you heard the question and started to panic. Then...lightbulb moment: you remember you had bullet points on this that you reviewed last night. You take a deep (not widely obvious) breath to settle your nerves then confidently share your bullet points/viewpoints and thought process on the subject matter.

And yes, you nailed it!

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Getting your nails done?

Thinking about getting your nails done for your upcoming pageant? Absolutely!

Remember that you want a judge's attention to be on your face, not that hot pink nail polish (that is at their eye level).

So in other words, when getting your nails done for a pageant, keep your nail length short and your colors nude or natural - clears, light pinks, light tan etc. Stay away from tips and outrageous colors.

ELF cosmetics sells natural colors for $2 and you can buy these online or at your local Target! And check that Dollar Store, you never know what you can find there!

What you do in your personal life is totally up to you - I'm not asking you to never wear your bright blue nail polish ever again. But when competing in a pageant, you want the attention up at your face and your nails can be very distracting when they are at a judge's eye level.

Just something to consider...


Notice the nice short length and natural, light pink color

Notice the nice short length and natural, light tan color - might be more appropriate for a warmer skin tone

Yes, her nails are a nice length, but can you imagine how distracting this will be in front of a judge's eyes?

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Are you doing anything differently this year?

Some people try to win a pageant multiple times, but fail to do so. That is just the reality of things. However, I've learned that sometimes what you need is a good assessment of what you could really be doing differently 'this time around'. And no, mom and dad are not adequate judges of what should be done differently.

Have you considered a dance coach or choreographer, if you are in a pageant with talent? Have you considered an image consultant to make sure everything fits your body shape and is good for your skin tone? Have you visited a hair stylist to make sure your look is fresh and compliments your face shape?

Do not waste time doing the same thing over and over. If you are lucky enough to get scores or comments from your last pageant, why not visit a pageant coach and see what you could do to improve each of those sections. And I'll be honest with you, the coach NEED NOT be me! Any good pageant coach can read a score sheet and help you improve...but the question is: what else are you doing differently this time around that you did not do before?

What else could you do to improve to win?

Let's chat. Let's make this year, your year!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

3 "Stand Out" Strategies to Crush the Competition

Perhaps you are a contestant in a group of 100 other contestants or 50 others or even 5 others - how can you stand out from the competition and capture that title?

While there are 100s of things we could discuss in this single blog post, I will focus on three.

1. Understand yourself
It is absolutely imperative to understand who you are - if you do not know who you are, how will you tell the judges who you are and why you should win? By understanding who we are and becoming comfortable with who we are, we can then carry ourselves with a sense of confidence that not many other contestants can.

Challenge: Make a list of all of the words that best describe you. Once you've brainstormed for about 20 minutes, ask someone who knows you well to add to your list. Come back to the list (that has now grown) and start narrowing it down. You may notice some words are repetitive. Start canceling out the words. Narrow it down to your top ten words and really think about how those words define you...then narrow it down to five words and think about those. Keep working your way down until you have one word left. Then think about why this single word best defines you and how you live (or do not live) to support this single idea of you. Start understanding the components that make you, you...and which do not.

2. Consistency
Our politicians are known for saying one thing one day and then denying it the next. The truth is: people value consistency. People value getting a single message and relying on that person to tell the same message every time. Are you communicating the same single message to your judges each time you appear in front of them?

For example: are you clean and polished in interview, but wearing a baby doll gown? Communicate the same message: if you're communicating "strong", stay strong. If you're communicating a softer look, stay soft. Etc.

3. Stop being boring
What can you do to enhance your look? What can you do to enhance your interview skills or your on-stage presentation? It's time to look over everything you have done and perhaps call in an expert for another opinion. 

Is your hair the same boring length as it was in last year's pageant? Does it need a trim? Style? 

Is your gown a "safe choice" for your age group? Should you wear chandelier earrings now instead of those posts?

Stop playing it "boring" and make an impact. Stand out from the crowd by really assessing what you are bringing to table and consider how you can "up the ante"  to crush the competition!

Thursday, May 2, 2013

What makes you comfy?

When competing to become Miss Maryland, we would spend an entire week at the pageant host hotel with a roommate. For two years, I suffered with high pillows, being cold because my roommate like the air on etc. Lesson learned: pack your comforts.

Yes, you bet I packed my pillow and extra socks the next two years. I could sleep better and was more comfortable all week because I didn't leave my comforts at home.

What makes you comfy? When you are comfy, you feel better - why not feel your best during pageant weekend? Think ahead!

Of course I'm not saying to pack everything but the kitchen sink, but what makes you feel more comfortable? More you? Your fave PJs? Your stuffed animal? Pack it. Be comfy so you can enjoy your experience more - and be more well-rested and ready to tackle the competition!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Tip of the Day!

BV Tip of the Day: don't skimp on the supplies! It never fails that you'll never those standard office supplies on hand. For example: scissors, cleaning wipes, tape, permanent marker and glue etc. We always grab a small sewing kit and tissues from the Dollar Store too, just in case!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013


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