This week I decided to wear my judge’s hat and share with you important insight into the mind of a judge. Well, at least this judge :). I feel if the contestants had a better understanding of what the judges were looking for, it would help them prepare better for the pageant. As a general rule, judges are looking for a titleholder that is:
1. Unique, articulate, diplomatic, polite, respectful, friendly, intelligent, talented, well-rounded, photogenic, and beautiful.
2. Going to be the best public relations person and representative for the pageant system, city, state or country.
3. Ready to compete and have the best chance of winning the next level of competition.
Most people don’t realize the importance of number three. The judges are looking for the lady who is ready to handle the responsibilities right now. There are many contestants that have lots of potential; but a qualified and experienced judge knows that after the state pageant, there is very little time to develop skills that are not fully mature to handle the responsibilities of a titleholder. Their decision must be made based on the “here and now” performance of the contestants.
Your physical condition and communication skills must be at their peak at the time of the pageant. After the crowning moment, there are media interviews, obligations to pageant sponsors, scheduled appearances, and preparations for the next level of competition in addition to any school, career, family and community obligations you may already have. Judges know that the titleholder will be speaking to business leaders, government officials, members of the media, and the general public on a regular basis. She will be interviewed on the radio, for television, and photographed frequently for the newspaper. There simply isn’t time for major growth to take place.
Judges score each category of competition separately. So ladies you have to be at your best at all times. Don’t make the assumption that just because you had a great interview that the judges will overlook the fact that you’re not as toned as you should be in your bathing suit, and vice versa. You are being watched on and OFF stage. Each category gives the judges an opportunity to evaluate different areas of the contestant’s personality. They are looking for the whole package.
The Interview: Up-close and Personal
This is when the judges get to see you up close so no huge hair or over the top makeup. Jewelry is to be kept to a minimum and tasteful. Your clothing needs to fit you perfectly (which means not to tight, not to big) and be an appropriate color and style for your age, body type and personality. Clothing choices need to bring attention to the person in the clothes, not the other way around, so avoid anything too ornate or flashy. Make sure your wardrobe fits the rules of the pageant system, as well.
The bulk of your interview score will come from the judge’s first impression of you when you walk through the door. The way you walk, the energy level surrounding you, your attitude, clothes, hair, makeup, and posture ALL create an instant snapshot of who you are. Most of the time, the public only gets a glimpse of a titleholder or has less than a minute of time with her. Your ability to make a positive connection with people quickly is critical. But looking the part isn’t enough. It just simply opens the door. Now comes the true test.
Your ability to share your thoughts, opinions, values and personality in an honest, concise and articulate way is what will earn high points in the interview. Key point here, THERE IS NO RIGHT OR WRONG ANSWER TO ANY QUESTION YOU ARE ASKED. When I judge, I ask questions to fish for high quality information from the contestant so I can quickly get to the heart of what is important to her. It’s not about what I think or my opinions. It’s all about the contestant. Because I have competed and judged for decades, I feel I have the inside track on helping my clients create judge’s bios that elicit high quality questions from the judges.
In the personal interview judges are looking for a winner that is in control of the situation, feel great about who she is and what she stands for, and uses humor appropriately. The vocal quality of your voice, along with your vocabulary, grammar and diction are essential elements. The interview is not the time for a standup comedy routine, nor do you want to be giggling the whole time. That demonstrates a lack of maturity; but, humor is very important. This is a balance that I work very closely to achieve with my clients.
On Stage: The Wow Factor
Every time you take the stage, you want the judges to say “Wow! There she is. That’s our winner.” The women that elicit that “wow” factor don’t try to be wow. They just are. There is an easy confidence about them that comes from the inside out as they walk on the stage and connect with the judges first, then the audience. Arrogance and cockiness turn people off. These two qualities are defense mechanism for very insecure people and that is not the image that businesses will eagerly endorse. When I’m judging, if I get the feeling that a contestant thinks she’s “all that and more”, that’s not my high point winner.
There is pressure and responsibilities that come with holding a title. When I judge, I will ask hard questions of contestants that I feel are title contenders to test them. My questions are always age appropriate; but I do this is to test the contestants ability to maintain her composure in the face of extreme stress. I want to discover what’s really inside and how much depth there is to the person in front of me.
I find that a person’s true character comes out when they are exposed to pressure. So if you have ever walked out of an interview feeling like you’ve just been grilled, take it as a compliment. As a contestant, once I understood this, I wanted to be asked the hard questions. I welcome the opportunity to share who I am at the core. Know that you will occasionally encounter a difficult judge that is simply that- difficult.
The fact is there are difficult people everywhere and as a titleholder you will come across not one but many people who will challenge you. Their behavior has no effect on you unless you allow it to. The more you understand who you are, what you believe in, and why that’s important to you, the less you will feel under attack when asked to explain your stance on an issue.
Remember, judges are looking for the lady who is ready right now. The more prepared you are, the greater your chances are of being offered the opportunity of a lifetime. My free special report and interview card are great tools to get you started. If you want to be totally prepared, contact me at Rhonda@WinningThroughPageantry.com and we can create an action plan that will put you on the path to winning.
Beyond The Pageant
My three children are all home educated. They are in the 9th, 7th, and 5th grades. Science lab days can be really fun and very insightful for us. For example, take carbon material and add heat and pressure. Heat and pressure will naturally break down material. However, different materials start to form depending on the amount of heat, pressure and time added. Add a tremendous amount of heat and pressure, and you’ll get coal. Coal has a definite value to our life as most of our energy comes from coal. But add an extreme amount of heat and pressure and a diamond is produced, the ultimate mineral and most important gemstone of all.
Does the pressure in your life simply break you down, or do you allow time so the pressure can develop the coal, and eventually the diamond? The heat is your attitude, and your attitude will determine if you develop dust, coal or diamonds. The choice is yours.
Rhonda Shappert is a pageant expert, personal development life coach, and owner of Winning Through Pageantry™, a business she created that not only helps her clients achieve winning results in pageants, but helps them Succeed From The Inside Out™ in their lives. In the pageant world she has held multiple local, state and national titles. Rhonda graduated Cum Laude with a Bachelors degree in Musical Theater from The Ohio State University and has performed on stage in 15 countries on the Asian, European and American continents. This mother of three who has been married 20 years to her husband Stephen, is the former mayor of her community, and is on the Board of Trustees for the Ohio Virtual Academy. She and her husband perform original contemporary Christian music. Their music CD entitled Cana is available through www.cdbaby.com/cd/shappert or on her website. For more information on Rhonda, visit www.WinningThroughPageantry.com.