Never judge a book by its cover. We hear that saying over and over; and yet, the fact remains that we all make assumptions about people, places or things by their outward appearance. The contents of a particular book may be the exact information we are seeking, but we'll never get a chance to read it because the cover didn't capture our attention. We didn't even pull it from the shelf because something about it initially turned us off.
But if the outside is pleasing to you, your first thought may be "Hmm, this book looks interesting. Let me see what's on the inside." Although it's not impossible, it is harder to reverse a bad first impression.
The first impression that the pageant director, staff and judges form of you is from your submitted paperwork and photo. The first photo you submit should be the best and most current headshot you have. Choose a colored photo that is well lit, sharply focused, and is from your shoulders up. Remember, based on your initial contact with the pageant office, you're going to be viewed as a contestant that is either ready now, needs a little polishing, or needs more time to develop.
Most pageants have their paperwork forms in a PDF file that contestants can fill out online. This is the preferred choice. Resist the urge to quickly complete and submit your paperwork. Instead, print out the forms and take your time drafting your final version. Have your English teacher proof read it or have a friend that is experienced in reviewing job applications take a look.
If your pageant still uses paper forms, ask the director if you can retype the application, exactly as it appears, into your computer so you can submit your paperwork in a clean, easy to read format. Follow the directions of your director to the letter. If they say one page, you do one page. Copy the font style and size exactly so your computer generated copy looks as close to the original as possible.
If you must handwrite, and this is absolutely the last choice, use your neatest printing or have someone who does have neat handwriting print it for you. Although the idea of having your 8 year old daughter fill out the form herself is touching, if the information can't be easily read, or if there is one smudge or a misspelled word, it will have a negative impact. Write your information on another sheet of paper, and only write on the application when you are 100% ready with your information. Again, I would avoid handwriting at all costs.
What is the purpose of the paperwork? It introduces you to the pageant staff and the judges. Your judges bio, which is the equivalent of a job resume, should peak the judges interest and curiosity. If proper constructed, the judges will be able to create a picture of who you are just by glancing at your bio. Here are a few helpful hints to creating an introduction on paper that will make a favorable impression on anyone who reads your bio.
Make it easy to read. Font size should be no smaller than 11 or 12 and in a style that is easy to read. Use either short complete sentences or a bullet point structure for your bio. Choose and use one style for the entire bio and don't bounce back and for between the two. Keep your bio to one page.
Peak the judges curiosity with interesting tidbits. Don't write out your whole story or include every little detail about yourself. That's what you can talk about when you are face to face with judges. There isn't time on the judges part to read long paragraphs. But you don't want to state just the facts either. Think about how the headlines on the front of a magazine cover make you pick it up and buy it because you are curious to get the whole story. The same is true about your bio. Think headlines.
Be very selective with your word choice and what information you include on your bio. Put only the best information about yourself on your bio. This is where working with a coach is very helpful. Most people don't know what information is most interesting and best about them. Sometimes it takes someone from the outside to help you identify what's important about your inside.
Your bio should show a well-rounded, diverse person. The most common categories on your bio might include education, career ambition, platform, talent, hobbies, awards, community service, and interesting facts. A well-rounded contestant will have something interesting for all the stated areas. If you only have one hobby, it's time to explore other possibilities. The same thing goes for community service. If you have no community service, it's time to look within yourself to see what blessings you have that you can share with others.
Your bio must be grammatically correct, use proper punctuation and free from all misspelled words and typos. Spell check is great, but you can't rely on it alone. After all, the words hear and here are both spelled correctly but have very different meanings. Have someone else read your bio out loud to you. Listen for phrases that don't make sense or need more detail. Have many different people look at your bio.
Limit your use of acronyms and abbreviations. Your judging panel may come from many parts of the state or country. If there is an organization that is very active and well respected in your community and everyone in your hometown knows it by TWBG, there will be someone on the panel that has no idea that it stands for The World's Best Group. Use the words to avoid any misunderstandings.
Work with a coach who is skilled in interview. Your interview skills begin with the creation of your paperwork and cannot be mastered overnight. The ideal way to plan for your interview and onstage question is to hire a skilled coach at least 3 months (6 is better) before your pageant. Create your paperwork together so the image that comes off the paper is consistent with the person they meet in the interview room.
Follow these basic guidelines and you will be on your way to creating the winning image you desire. If you haven't already, be sure to request my FREE interview card that contains the beginning 10 questions that everyone doing an interview needs to have an answer for.
Being able to create your image in writing will serve you well in your career. Take a few moments to look at how balanced your life is in the areas of personal development, family, education, career, community service, recreation and spiritually. Are there some areas that could use some attention? Why wait for a pageant to take action. Contact me and we can work together to create the life and balance you want to live.