While there are many ways to improve contestant’s general communication skills, the most effective technique for specifically improving pageant interviews is mock interviews.
Indeed, videotaped interviews have proven so useful that they are routinely used by pageant preparation committees to prepare state winners for national pageant competition.
A video records the contestant as she is questioned by a panel of rehearsal judges she or her pageant directors have recruited. Reviewing the tape afterward allows the young lady to detect unflattering mannerisms, facial expressions, or slang she had been unaware of.
“It’s important for them to know how they look,” explains Vernon DeSear, who prepared numerous Miss Floridas for national competition. “The video can help them to see how they’re coming across visually and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.” By repeating the sessions regularly the young lady can monitor and improve her performance.
“It’s important for them to know how they look. The video can help them to see how they’re coming across visually and to evaluate their strengths and weaknesses.” — Vernon DeSear
As Cheryl Prewitt Salem, Miss America 1980, knows from experience, mock interviews are invaluable because they offer girls a safe place to iron out blunders before meeting the judges.
“Being good in interview takes a lot of practice. Practice in front of a panel where you can’t go, ‘Oh shoot, I wish I hadn’t said that.’ With mock interviews you have to literally go from beginning to end. It helps a girl to be as prepared as she can possibly be.”
Fortunately, any contestant can improve her skills with mock interviews in the privacy of her home:
- Record your mock interviews and study them carefully.
- Use family, friends, and neighbors as judges.
- Have a friend video your entry, interview, and exit.
- Study each video to find what you need to improve on (shaky voice, nervous mannerisms, weak answers).
- Work on improving those specific flaws.
- Repeat the process until you’re satisfied.
Mock interview rehearsals are a key to successful interviewing. As Jeanne Swanner Robertson, a humorist and national pageant judge, put it:
“I would be very disappointed in the young woman of the nineties who would come to a pageant representing her state, but not take the time to sit with a group of people who’ll ask her questions, and say, ‘Let me see if I can answer these.’ That’s just good common sense. It’s a waste of her time and energy not to be ready when she comes in.”
Such practice interviews are also ideal for perfecting general interview skills for on-stage interviews with the pageant’s emcee, top five questions, live final questions, press conferences as the titleholder, reporters’ interviews at the national pageant, and media interviews as a national titleholder.
So, set up those mock interviews and practice, practice, practice!
- First Miss USA® 2011 Press Conference
- Miss Universe 2011 Press Conference
- 2012 Miss America Pageant Official Press Conference