Are you competing in a pageant for the first time and feeling overwhelmed? Well, you’re not alone. Everyone feels a bit unsure after they’ve entered their first pageant. But with a little prep, you can be as ready as any experienced contestant. Just follow these 6 Winning Pageant Tips for First Time Contestants.
1. Make Sure Your Strengths Match Scored Areas of Competition
While it can be tempting to jump right in and enter, some pageants may not be the best fit for you. Ideally, the scored areas of competition will match your strengths as a contestant.
Is 30% of the score based on your talent presentation? Then you should have a talent that is both impressive and entertaining. Is it a platform pageant? Then you need a personal platform and community service hours.
If you’re not strong in the areas of competition that will most impact your score, you may want to pass. By picking a pageant that’s a great fit for you, you increase the likelihood of getting a winning score.
2. Read Your Contestant Packet
After you’ve entered, you’re excited and don’t want to read a bunch of boring paperwork. But there’s gold buried in your contestant package.
The first thing you should look for is the competition wardrobe requirements. What are the swimsuit/fitness attire rules? What shoes are okay/not okay? You may lose points or even be disqualified if you don’t follow the wardrobe rules.
The next thing to look for is the style and length of your interview. Is it a standing panel interview that’s 5 minutes long? Or is it a seated one-on-one interview that’s 60 seconds long? Knowing the style and length of your personal interview is essential for your interview prep.
So, look through your paperwork thoroughly. You never know what you might find that your competition will overlook.
3. Create a Competition Budget
Once you’ve entered, it’s tempting to immediately start shopping. But first, you need to create your competition budget. Why? Because I guarantee that you’ll overspend if you don’t. And if you overspend, you’ll run out of money and end up cutting back on training. And since skills win a title – not your wardrobe – you’re don’t want to ever cut back on training.
There are areas where you can pinch pennies so that you can splurge in other areas. You can win on a budget; you just have to be smart with your money.
4. Create a prep plan
Once you’ve got a budget, it’s time to create your prep plan. For a state title, top contestants typically start prepping 4 to 5 months before the competition. For local or festival titles, contestants usually start 8 to 12 weeks before the pageant.
To create a prep plan, make a list of all of the things you need to accomplish before the pageant. Then break them down into weeks, so that you’re doing something every week. One week you might go shopping for your opening number outfit. Then, the next week you could work on your rehearsal wardrobe.
And remember to factor in your training during each week. You should start your interview training 12 to 16 weeks prior to the pageant. And you should start practicing your on-stage modeling 4 to 6 weeks prior to the competition. Without a prep plan, it’s easy to procrastinate, and then you end up cramming at the last minute.
5. Display Confidence
Don’t you just hate it when people say “be confident”? As if you can just summon up confidence on the spot. But you can’t. Confidence comes from knowing that you’ve developed the skills necessary to compete and win. You can’t just “think” it out of thin air.
It’s perfectly normal to feel a little nervous during the pageant. But that’s not a confidence issue. Confidence comes from practicing your competition skills over and over until you can work those skills even when you’re nervous. You feel confident when you know you can do it – because you’ve done it in practice.
The only way to display confidence under pressure during your competition is to train and practice your skills.
6. Enjoy the Process
I always tell my VIP private coaching contestants, “If you focus on winning, you will not. If you focus on working your skills and having fun, you dramatically increase your chances of winning.”
Why? Because when you focus on winning you subconsciously tense up and the judges notice. They can see that you’re skilled, but you don’t look like you’re having fun. You look miserable. And nobody votes for a contestant who looks miserable.
Instead, focus on working your skills and enjoying the competition. Then the judges will see an impressive contestant who is friendly, relaxed under pressure, and clearly ready to handle the demands of the title.
And don’t think that just because you’re a first time contestant that you can’t win. I once coached a contestant who entered her local Teen USA pageant 6 weeks before the competition. She was competing against a field of very impressive contestants who had competed before. She followed my 6 winning tips for first time pageant contestants and walked away with the crown.
You can too!