After being involved in pageantry for many years, from contestant to judge to director, I can honestly say the judges want the total package. When entering a pageant, it is important for contestants to learn the system and get prepared. There are numerous systems within the industry and all incorporate different requirements and expectations, and as a contestant you want to be prepared for any and every system. Here are some of the most helpful questions for a contestant.


What are judges looking for in the talent competition?

Many systems within the Glamour Lifestyle Industry either require a talent presentation for the overall title or offer it as an optional competition that are recognized through additional awards. For those systems requiring talent to achieve the overall title, they should and will have judges who are well versed in a variety of the arts.


When performing for a talent competition, the contestant needs to have the routine well-rehearsed. It is important to remember it is a talent presentation and not a specific competition like a dance competition, twirling competition, or vocal competition. An exciting talent routine needs to be entertaining for both the audience as well as the judges. It is always a good idea to make sure your talent is well executed while entertaining the crowd. Additionally, contestants need to make sure their costume matches and is appropriate to their talent. You definitely do not want to wear something sexy while singing Amazing Grace.


Another golden rule within a talent presentation that requires movement or skills such as dance or gymnastics is if the move is too difficult, do not attempt to execute it. It is better to keep it simple, entertaining and clean. Your on-stage presentation is not the place to practice singing in a new key nor attempt a move that is unfamiliar.


Finally, you want to also make sure your talent matches you. Always remember, just because someone else may have captured a title or audition performing a specific talent, it may not be right for you. Simply put, if you cannot sing, do not sing. If you are not physically adept or have not obtained training in dance, do not attempt a dance performance. You want to be comfortable and to just be you.


What are judges looking for in the interview competition?

Interview is always the great unknown when entering into any event. And as everyone knows, it is the one competition usually not seen by the audience, and it is the one phase of competition that can deliver or deny the title. The most important thing for interview is to be yourself and know yourself. You always want to know the facts and have your experiences prepared. You want to be able to tell your stories and make it personable since the judges truly want to know about you. If it is a state or national pageant, judges will want to know why you want to win, how will you incorporate your platform or community service into the system and how you will promote the title. If it is a larger title, it is very important to know how you will use the title. Contestants need to be able to successfully articulate their goals and how they will work within the parameters of the organization and benefit the organization as a titleholder.


Contestants must show their personality and intelligence in Interview also. You need to know what is on your application or bio sheet and be able to speak about it. For example, if you say you are going to be a nurse, then become knowledgeable about nursing and the health care industry, especially if you have a particular field of interest. You do not want to sound too staged or too rehearsed. You want to be natural and show who you are, not what someone told you to say. Oftentimes, to the detriment of a contestant and the Interview experience, a judge’s question is truly never answered during the discourse. An overly trained or nervous contestant may touch upon the question, then veere into a subject matter that has no bearing on the original question. Do not try to defer an answer or attempt to change the subject. A qualified judge will immediately understand that you have not addressed nor answered the actual question. If you are unfamiliar with a subject, it’s fine to state so and offer to give your honest, but uninformed opinion.


Judges are also looking for appearance, poise, confidence and grace in Interview. Judges want to award the title to someone who can look and speak like a queen and be able to address the public when representing the title, potential sponsor, or speaking on behalf of a partner organization. Therefore, it is vitally important to dress successfully and to dress to match your personality. In other words, if you are super conservative in Interview, do not dress too revealing. Also make sure you dress appropriately for your age and the system or agency you are competing within or auditioning. Whether valid or not, many systems have a reputation for a certain look or style. When competing, it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the look and public persona of the organization. Contestants need to make sure they know what is the best style for Interview for the system and their body style. Some systems like more business attire and others more cocktail. The same appropriateness can be stated for other competitions such as Evening Gown, Fun Fashion, Spokesmodel, or a plethora of others, depending on the event. Performing your due diligence can ease a lot of the stress and anxiety when speaking to those who can award you the title or job.


Basically, judges are looking for the well-rounded and confident contestant. One who can speak well and is active in what she promotes. They want a doer not a talker. Like other phases within the actual Interview process, especially with a limited time frame, judges are astutely aware through their questioning of whether or not you are committed to your stated cause.


What are judges looking for in the fitness competition?

Within the competition of pageantry, judges are scoring on physical fitness, poise, and personality. You always want to choose a swimsuit or fitness outfit that is complimentary to your body shape. Most systems are looking for an individual who promotes and lives a healthy lifestyle and understand that contestants come in many shapes and sizes. Fitness within pageantry is not about being the most “ripped” or having the most pronounced abdominals. It is about looking healthy and confident in who you are regardless of your age division or competition wear requirements. Qualified judges understand and appreciate the fitness levels and differences between a younger person versus a mature individual. The accessories should also be complimentary. Again, your confidence is the key to success and cannot be overestimated.


What are judges looking for in the gown competition?

Contestants need to choose the gown for them. You want to make sure the gown fits your body type and style. A gown should be the icing on the cake. As in all phases of competition, you want to be polished, poised, and graceful. You need to make sure you practice your walk and that you are smooth and elegant. And don’t forget to wear your shoes to break them in and be comfortable in your walk. If you have an on-stage question, make sure you speak clearly and answer the question. Again, you need to show your personality and intelligence. Judges want someone who can communicate well in front of an audience.


In the end, judges are looking for the well-rounded, well spoken, total package. Contestants need to make sure they are well prepared for the system they enter. As in other phases of competition. your evening gown or party dress should be age appropriate. A contestant needs to always remember the title and crown are stepping stones. A queen should use them to promote the pageant and better their platforms.


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