In my special report, 10 Insider Secrets To Winning, I share that the main reason some contestants do not experience the results they want or the full benefits of pageantry is because they do not start preparing soon enough. It takes time to properly develop BOTH the inner and outer skills necessary of a winner. Also, some pageants are more demanding than others. The age of the contestant,also, plays into the preparations. How much time should a person allow? Ideally, allow at least a year of preparation time. Whoa! Seriously? Yes, seriously and here are the reasons why.
1. Study The Pageant.
A year before you compete, it is wise to watch the exact pageant you’re entering from the audience. Even if you’ve watched the pageant two or three years before, things have a way of changing. You want to be current on what’s happening right now in the pageant system you are interested in.
Every pageant has its own style of doing things from the way you walk to the length and style of dress the contestants wear. Hair and makeup are, also, very important. Imagine the embarrassment you would feel if you’re expecting a natural pageant and show up to find it’s glitz, or vice versa.
I want to point out something very important here. Just because a pageant labels itself “natural” doesn’t necessarily mean no makeup; and casual wear does not mean jeans and a T-shirt. You need to see what the pageant’s “definitions” are by looking at the performance of the top 5 contestants. Make sure it’s the right pageant system for you before you invest hundreds of dollars.
2. Raise The Money.
It may take you up to a year to raise the money you need to compete. This amount will be several hundred to a couple thousand dollars. Trust me, it’s easier to have the money in the bank before you start the pageant so you can fully enjoy the process rather than to be stressed out and scrambling at the last minute to cover your expenses.
If you need to find sponsors, you’ll need a couple months to properly develop a marketing kit and professionally approach business people and organizations.
3. Develop Your Communication Skills.
In my opinion, this area can take the longest to hone for a number of reasons. In some cases, we are looking at teaching someone how to speak again. The physical parts such as body language; tone; pitch; rate at which you speak; articulation; pronunciation; removal of slang, fillers ( um, like, so, uh ) and quirky habits( talking with your hands, bobbing or tilting your head to one side); and neutralizing regional accents (yes, as charming as those accents can be, if the judges can’t understand you or it’s difficult to listen to, you’re going to lose points)are new habits that need months to become natural.
Some people are blessed with the physical mechanics but need help with the mental part of communication. The ability to quickly and clearly state your answer to any question asked of you takes a broad knowledge of self and the world around you. Learning how to guide the interview and stating your answer without sounding rehearsed or memorized is the secret ingredient to a successful interview.
Please, don’t make the mistake of thinking, “I won’t practice answering questions because I don’t want to sound fake or programmed. I’ll just go with the flow and that way I’ll be totally natural.” Once you understand the process, the ability of mentally knowing your answer and presenting it in a way that sounds totally spontaneous is a skill that takes daily practice and time to integrate into your being. This can not be learned 10 days prior to a pageant or hours before your interview.
4. Refine Your Physical Appearance.
- Fitness- Health care professionals state that an average weight loss of 2 pounds a week is a healthy goal to taking off the weight and keeping it off. You need time to see how your body reacts to weight training and the different types of aerobic exercise available to you. Certain types of activity build muscles that are not favored in beauty pageants.
- Walking Style – Walking comfortably in an evening gown and swimsuit wearing 4 inch heels takes lots of practice to look and feel confident. Don’t take a pair of shoes you’ve never worn before to a pageant.
- Hair- Length, color and style need to be determined and practiced months before the actual pageant. A maintenance program should be in place the last 6 weeks prior to the event. This is extremely important if you are planning on having hair extensions. You’ll need practice learning how to style and care for them so you’re hair looks fabulous and natural.
- Makeup- Same as hair. Never try anything new at the pageant. Months before the pageant, practice putting on the eyelashes, makeup for interview and onstage. Hire people to help you if needed.
- Wardrobe- Enjoy trying on all the styles, cuts and colors of fashion. Find the perfect styles that make your figure look proportional and emphasize your assets. You’ll want to buy clothes that fit you at the time you’re shopping. If you lose weight, have a professional seamstress alter your garments a couple weeks before the pageant so they fit you perfectly.
- Skin- Months before the pageant, experiment with your different tanning options. You don’t want to look too dark or orange. It’ll will take lots of trial and error to find the right self tanner, air brush cocktail, or bronzer to give you that natural glow.
5. Create Your Talent & Community Service.
Whether it is an optional category or a scored event in your pageant, your talent must be entertaining and emotionally engaging for the judges and audience. Plus, the level of expertise must be high enough where people actually acknowledge it as talent. After your talent number, you want the audience to feel and say “Wow!” not looking at each other and saying “Was that for real? What was that?”
You can’t fake talent. It takes time to find the right song that showcases your strengths, the perfect costume to fit the number, and the routine must be completely memorized to the point where you can do it in your sleep. If there is a note or a step coming up that you’re anxious about, you’re not ready yet. Keep practicing.
Same thing goes for community service. Passing out flyers at an event or bringing canned goods from your pantry to a communal collection is not the quality involvement judges are looking for.
The expectation of titleholders is to be well-rounded individuals with the ability to relate to a broad range of people. In order to do this, a contestant must demonstrate a balance between church, family, friends, education, career, recreation, health, and community service. Of these eight areas, which ones need some attention to bring you in balance?
As I stated at the beginning, it takes time to develop all these skills. Your first year in pageantry will take the most preparation; but you will quickly learn what does and does not work for you. Keep what works and hire people to help you work through the other opportunities:).
Beyond The Pageant:
Having the balance between church, family, friends, education, career, recreation, health, and community service is what gives our lives purpose and meaning. If you desire personal growth we can work together to develop these eight areas of your life beyond the pageant. Give me a call and we can talk about options on how you can start living the life you want and how you can succeed from the inside out.
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, home educates their children, 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.