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Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Stepping out of your shell with pageants

Whether you have been in pageants for over a decade, like myself, or are just getting started, pageantry can help you evolve into an entirely different person. A more improved version of yourself, personally. Through competing, judging, and coaching, I have watched countless young women transform from "Wallflowers" to "Social Butterflies"...but it did not happen over night. Their transformation came from a lot of hard work! Here's my 3 step plan to help you step out of your shell and into the (pageant) spotlight:

1. Public Speaking
Nothing can prepare you for that on-stage question or personal introduction like speaking in public. Yes, you should be focused on your judges, but who can completely forget the audience of 200+ that is staring right at them? Think about the interview room too...

Public speaking is a nightmare for many people, but it is an exceptionally important part of being involved in pageants. Should you win, you will be the ambassador for that program all year long. You will be required to do appearances, speak at events, meet people, build partnerships and make connections etc. You will never escape public speaking, so continuously practice doing it - put yourself in public speaking situations as often as possible so you can grow and develop.

  • Run for student government positions
  • Visit a classroom/youth organization and host an activity
  • Meet public officials and chat with them
  • Give speeches (class projects etc)
Make videos and watch them. Many of us have laptops with cameras or cell phones with cameras now. Tape yourself giving your personal introduction or a mini-speech and watch yourself grow over the videos - you can increase your confidence this way (and correct things you don't like too)!

2.  Volunteering
Talk about interview practice...and great interview material! This is where you can learn excellent life + interview skills because of the variety of people you will meeting and engaging with. I remember my first major volunteer job was with the Maryland Science Center. I got to meet people from all around the world, with different clothing preferences, who spoke different languages, who had different customs and more. Won't your judges be varied? Won't they have different backgrounds and understandings? Won't you need to communicate openly and freely with them? And when I worked the guest services desk, I learned how to handle (random, and sometimes weird) questions with ease, poise, and grace. I also learned a lot about my various strengths and weaknesses.

  • Volunteer with a local organization that means something to you (i.e. library for someone with a reading platform)
  • Take notes on everything you did that day and review it often (these skills can be brought up on your resume OR during the interview to sell you as a great candidate)
  • Start your search online at OR visit the websites of your favorite organizations 

3. Expand your horizons
When was the last time you tried something new? Out of the box? For example, a (very petite) BV girl recently tried out for her track team - she didn't even own running shoes - but she made the team! That experience helped her come out of her shell even more; she developed her muscles, yes, but she also learned something new about herself, gained leadership opportunities and skills, and more! Trying new things will challenge you, just like competing will. Trying new things will show you what you are capable of, just like competing will. 

Also, when was the last time you read a book? No, seriously, a book. Reading expands your mind, develops your vocabulary, and allows you to use your imagination and explore parts of yourself you may have never dreamed of exploring. What about an educational book - like Public Speaking for Dummies...? Seriously! What an amazing 100+ pages of tips and ideas! You can try these out! OR if you're more into fiction, pick up a great book and act a scene out in your room (yes, you can lock the door). Challenge yourself to explore those hidden parts of yourself and come out of your shell because after all, you will want to present your most confident and best self at the pageant!