Like competing in the Olympics, facing a panel of celebrity judges in your pageant interviews, know that their scores on your “performance” could change the course of your life is an understandably nerve-wracking experience. It’s a one-shot deal and you’ve got minutes to win the panel over.
Indeed, not being nervous would be the real surprise.
The pressures of upper-level pageant interviews can be especially tough on contestants’ confidence. “It can be every intense,” says Debbie Bryant-Berge, a former Miss America and past Miss America telecast commentator. “A lot of people go into pageants and they are so tense because they want to do well, but they’re so nervous that it affects their performance.”
Being prepared for your interview helps end jitters
The most effective way to conquer such point-losing jitters in pageant interviews is to prepare beforehand. “In the interview, when you see five or ten judges lined up against the other side of the table and you’re sitting there by yourself – the situation is intimidating,” says Christi Taunton, a former Miss Arkansas. “But if you are prepared when you get there, you really shouldn’t have much of a problem with nervousness. I think preparedness is the greatest thing you can do to block the nerves.”
Weird pageant interview tip: Picture the judges in their underwear!
Keep in mind that judges are real people. As you walk into your pageant interviews, remember that the judges are like anybody else: they work long hours, get the flu, and have car trouble. “The girls need to realize that judges are people who put their shoes on every morning and brush their teeth just like they do,” says Jeff Bell, a longtime local pageant director. “I think that helps the girls feel more relaxed.” And if all the above doesn’t help, he suggests this unique strategy: “Picture them in their underwear!”
So when you’re hit with the shakes, sweaty palms, and rapid breathing, remember to relax and treat the judges as regular folks. “We have as much stress as we put on ourselves,” asserts Lee Beaman, Miss North Carolina 1988. “It’s a matter of keeping the interview in perspective. It’s just a conversation with people. They mess up and make mistakes, they’re not perfect, and they know that we’re not. This will be your one moment in the spotlight. Why be nervous? Let it be fun! If you have your mental attitude right, it’s usually not too stressful.