What you need to know as you prepare your talent for pageant competition…
This page discusses how to prepare for the talent competition and the importance of getting training. Whether you are a contestant with no talent or a music major who’s already a professional performer, preparing for the pageant talent competition involves specific techniques that will increase your chances of scoring highly in talent and winning the crown. The bottom line is, there are some strong personal incentives that should encourage every contestant to enthusiastically develop a talent…
- If you don’t have a stage talent, coming with something to do in the talent competition doubles the number of types of pageants you can enter – and thereby increases the odds of eventually winning one of those crowns.
- If you already do have a talent, refining and perfecting it will double your chances of either placing highly and winning scholarship money or gaining invaluable exposure that can skyrocket a performing career.
In fact, an audience-pleasing pageant talent – whether it’s a romantic classical piano performance, a rib-tickling ventriloquism routine, or a flashy show-gymnastics exhibit – is the quickest way to launch a contestant from the local runway to the national pageant stage.
I don’t think it matters what her pageant talent is. The girl is the one that wins it. — Vernon DeSear, veteran national judge
That doesn’t mean that a girl has to have years of talent lessons and performing experience. The pageant talent competition is about entertaining. An unusual talent (or even a newly-developed talent) that fascinates the audience is just as likely to earn the judges’ nod as a serious classical talent performance backed by a decade of serious training.
But, whether you are a newcomer to the pageant talent scene or a veteran performer using pageants for career exposure, you’ll need to apply the three P’s — planning, preparation, and practice — to properly prepare for the talent competition.
At first glance, talent seems to be the quality that either gains you points toward the crown or keeps you out of lucrative scholarship/talent pageants like America’s Junior Miss and Miss America. “You’ve got to be realistic enough to realize that when talent is a large portion of the points, as in the Miss America program, you must have some degree of talent in order to participate,” explains Dennison Keller, former producer of the Miss Ohio and Miss Texas telecasts. “If you don’t have a talent, I think you need to look for another pageant without a talent competition or a pageant where there is a less emphasis on talent.
However, unlike the Miss America Pageant, where talent usually counts twice as much as the the other competition events, in other pageants like Miss Teen of America, talent counts for only 15 to 20 percent of scoring. That means that a girl who is weak in talent still has a decent shot at winning.
“If a girl is good in everything else, she could recite the alphabet backwards and pick up enough points to win,” quips Warren Alexander, national director of the Miss Teen of America Pageant. “Of course, we expect them to have enough common sense to make themselves look as good as possible. It must be presented well. We’ve had archery, embroidery, and calligraphy, but they were wonderfully presented.”
Such pageant talents can reveal the real talent of being a great titleholder. It provides the opportunity to convey a confident, charismatic personality on-stage…regardless of the talent itself! “If the contestant is smart,” says Warren, “during her talent presentation she’ll show, ‘Hey, I am capable of being Miss Teen of America. See how I handle myself on stage with this material.’”
Get Training for your Pageant Talent
Now, if a contestant wants to be at her best in talent, it obviously is smart to get whatever training you can. Whether you’re just beginning to explore your pageant talent potential or you’re already an experienced performer, make every effort to improve your skills continually with some type of talent training. This is particularly true for the national level where many state titleholders are college music majors or professional entertainers.
At that level, such training is critical specifically to develop those impressive techniques that add finesse to a performance and gain points. “I don’t think there is any substitute for training with experts in the field,” asserts Dennison Keller, former producer/director of the Gillette Miss America Troupe and a state and national judge. “There is a direct correlation between the amount of training you have and how good your talent presentation is going to be. You can’t ignore training. All those years of training are going to show.”
Training can make such a great improvement to a young woman’s talent that most state pageants now provide their winners with professional coaching to prepare for the nationals. “We seek outside help for her talent, with the preparation of talent tapes and with refining her presentation,” explains Adair Brown, retired director of the Miss Colorado Pageant, which has produced numerous national winners and runners-up. “You don’t have to be an expert in that talent, but you have to be professional in its presentation because that performance has to be of national quality.”
Let’s face it, although private lessons are highly advisable, many college students simply don’t have the funds. Contestants whose budgets don’t allow for private lessons will be reassured to learn that young women have won state and national titles as self-taught performers. They just taught themselves…
One such pageant winner, former Miss Florida Kim Boyce, knows that with determination and constant practice, contestants can become skilled entertainers without professional training. “I tried one [vocal] class at a university and hated it,” she recalls. “I just said, ‘This isn’t for me,’ and I continued practicing on my own to develop my talent. I worked hard at it for many has the most professional talent – but who is the most well rounded and consistently strong contestant in every category.”
She not only won the Miss Florida Pageant, but went on to make top top ten at Miss America and perform beautifully on live television! Today she is an accomplished professional singer who has recorded seven Christian albums, had multiple #1 ranked songs and several Dove Award nominations. So, never under-estimate the power of your training yourself if you are truly dedicated and tenacious. [Listen to her music…]
So, if you absolutely cannot afford talent training, plenty of free advice is available online. A fabulous source of visual tutorial on preparing for the talent competition is YouTube.com, where pageant coaches and talent trainers of all types often post truly helpful lessons on talent techniques, whether it is vocal, instrumental or dance. So take advantage of these free resources.
Pageant Winners with Formal Talent Training
Many Miss Americas had such formal training:
- Laura Kaepeller (Miss America 2012) – music, vocal performance major at Carthage College
- Dorothy Benham (Miss America 1977) – vocal performance major
- Susan Powell (Miss America 1981) vocal performance major
- Debra Barnes (Miss America 1968) – piano pedagogy major
- Tawny Godin (Miss America 1976) studied piano at the Toronto Conservatory of Music
- Gretchen Carlson (Miss America 1989) – decade of violin lessons
- Marjorie Vincent (Miss America 1991) – bachelor’s degree in music, semi-finalist in the Stravinsky International Piano Competition.
- Vanessa Williams (Miss America 1984) – musical theater arts major at Syracuse University
- Neva Langley (Miss America 1953) – piano major at Wesleyan
Each made the most of her talent training to capture her coveted title.
Whether you are the young lady who is just beginning to explore how to prepare for the pageant’s talent competition, or an experiences contestant seeking to refine your performance as you move on to a higher level of competition, our extensive area of pageant talent tips will be of great help. We invite you to explore our free talent tips area. [View more…]