I was so honored to judge the Miss Utah’s Outstanding Teen pageant last weekend. M.U.O.T. is a Miss America Organization pageant, which means that contestants are judged on Lifestyle and Fitness, Interview, Talent, Evening Wear and Onstage Question, and Academics. It is a scholarship pageant, and each girl is encouraged to choose or create a platform of service that she is committed to promoting during her year of service as the titleholder. I have oodles of experience with pageants. I started competing when I was around 12-years-old as a means to practice my love of singing and dancing. The last title I held was Miss Iron County, and I competed in the Miss Utah pageant with that title. I will be forever grateful for pageants and the confidence they gave me, not mention the fact that my senior year of college was completely paid for with the scholarship I won as MIss Iron County. I was married shortly after giving up my title, and since then I have judged dozens of pageants for all different ages. This weekend, while I was judging M.U.O.T., I realized that I’ve gained a lot of insight and knowledge on what gives contestants that edge and spark they need to get the attention of the judges. So, I’m going to share my top 10 tips with you today. 1- Make sure your bio/ resume is packed with as many interesting facts and details you can fit into it. Whether it’s quirky talents you have, scholastic achievements, leadership roles, travel opportunities, etc. Go crazy! The judges want to get to know the REAL you, and the more information they have, the better questions they can ask you. Make sure you have your friends and mentors read it, spell check it, and scrutinize it before you hand it in! 2- Don’t lie or stretch the truth! If a judge asks you about something on your resume, you better make sure you know what you’re talking about! For example; if you list on your resume that you won an award at a science fair, and the judge asks you what subject you presented, you better remember! 3- Be yourself. The judges really are trying to get to know you. You don’t want to come in and try to be something you’re not. 4- Practice! Give your resume to someone you don’t know very well and ask them to give you a mock interview. Have them take notes about any nervous ticks you might have, so you can avoid them during the real thing. For example, try not to pick your fingernails, play with your hair, or fiddle with your dress during an interview. 5- Practice your hair and makeup. Before you go into a pageant, make sure you know exactly what colors look best on you, both on stage and for interview. Make sure your look is age appropriate. If you can afford it, have a professional make-up artist help you choose colors that best compliment your skin tone. 6- Act like you want the job. Go above and beyond in every aspect of preparation. Practice your talent a million times in front of as many people as as you can. WORK on your platform; judges don’t want to hear what you WILL do, they want to hear what you HAVE done so far. Practice walking in the shoes you’re planning on wearing, you don’t want to trip in your heels when you get on stage. Do everything the pageant director asks you to do and get it done on time! 7- Be nice. No one wants a queen that isn’t approachable. Judges are looking for someone who’s smart, pretty, funny, and NICE. Kindness isn’t something that can be faked. 8- Think about your talent and what the song choice says about you. Listen to the lyrics, make sure that choice is appropriate for your age. Double check that your costume will stay in place, if you’re dancing. Details make the difference! You need all the help you can get to stand out! 9- Don’t be afraid to show your personality. If you’re asked, “What would you do if you won a million dollars?” Tell the truth. I mean, if you really would donate it ALL to charity, that’s great, but don’t tell us what you think we want to hear. Be honest. 10-Have fun. You’re probably not going to win EVERY pageant you enter, and even if you don’t win any, you’re equipping yourself with new skills every time you enter a pageant. Learning how to interview, speaking in front of people, and serving are all good qualities that can be acquired and will only help you in the future! Pageants aren’t for everyone, but I am always amazed at how much they can force someone to grow and get out of their comfort zone! Jessica
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