Win A Pageant

17: Meeting a Judge in an Elevator

episode-17-featured-imageIt’s not unusual to meet a judge in an elevator. In fact, it’s an amazing opportunity to connect with anyone in a short yet focused amount of time. In this episode, I’ll teach you exactly how to respond when you meet a judge outside of the interview room, like for example, in the hotel elevator. If that hasn’t happened to you yet, get ready cuz it likely will. And if it has happened to you, then you know the value of understanding how to approach this type of situation.

First, it’s important to recognize that many pageants go through leaps and bounds to keep their judges mysterious, even quarantined when not doing official pageant business. But, most pageants know it’s a lot of work to keep a group of 5 adults on a leash.

At any event, conference, concert, or pageant, it’s highly likely you could meet some amazing people in the elevator. There may be separate meeting rooms, green rooms, entrance doors, numbered tables and other hierarchical structures set up to separate the VIPs from the wannabe’s, but the hotel elevator is accessible to everyone.

That’s why it’s not unusual to meet a judge in an elevator. In fact, it’s an amazing opportunity to connect with anyone in a short yet focused amount of time. Think about it: an elevator conversation with a stranger usually only lasts about 2 minutes and it makes an otherwise awkward moment into a remarkably pleasant one. What else do you do in an elevator but stare at the numbers lighting up above the door in anticipation of your floor. But, if you’re not prepared for a conversation those could be the longest 2 minutes of silence all weekend.

The first time this happened to me, I was about 12. I was at the Tremaine Dance Convention and met one of the cutest master dance teachers in the elevator, he might as well have been Brad Pitt. My teenage friends and I were so caught off guard all we did was freeze, except for a few awkward giggles. When he got off at the next stop, we busted out in screams and squeals asking one another, “why didn’t you say anything!” We were both so shocked that it even happened. Later that same weekend, we ended up on the elevator with another favorite master teacher and major role model (this time a woman), Desiree. This time, I was prepared. When we got onto her elevator, I immediately introduced myself and thanked her for her awesome teaching and choreography. I remember it to be pretty well-put together, though I’m sure it was mostly gushing. Either way, it was a huge improvement from nothing at all.

In my life and travels, I’ve had the pleasure of meeting many intriguing people, CEO’s, honeymooners, people from my hometown 3,000 miles away, even the fitness icon Mr. Lou Ferrigno, the co-star of the 1970’s Pumping Iron and the original Hulk – the super-hero character that turns green and grows huge muscles.

This, of course, happens all the time at pageants – a contestant sneaks down to the lobby for a cup of coffee and an apple, hair in rollers and only one eye lash on when she bumps into a judge going up to the 30th floor with her. It’s obvious she’s a contestant, yet the judge doesn’t want to make her feel uncomfortable. It’s up to the contestant to say hello.

The Elevator Introduction is an amazing opportunity to communicate your true, authentic self, consistent with who you are on stage, in the interview room, and in real life. If you’ve ever met a professional Miss before like Miss USA, Miss America, you’d expect the same from them in the elevator – a sweet hello at the very least. Therefore I expect the same from you. It’s so refreshing to meet a woman who has a personality congruent with her performance….wouldn’t you agree?

In order to not be caught off guard, you should always be prepared to make a good impression. Beauty is being engaging and making others feel good, so be prepared to be honest, ask good questions and give fulfilling answers.

Goal is to give the person you’re meeting something meaty to engage with. You could say something simple like “Hi, I’m Kara” Or, I’m just here for the snacks”, but that may not invite conversation, where you can leave them with a great impression of you.

Instead, shine a little of your sparkle and make them feel great, too. 

When you reveal your true self, you give other’s permission to do the same.

Before any major event, whether it’s a pageant, a career fair, or a professional conference – anything where you’ll have the chance to meet some cool people (which, let’s be honest, could be just about anywhere), consider what type of people you may encounter and how you want to be remembered.

I have a few simple ways to help you prepare.

+ Past: Where did you come from?
+ Present: What brings you here today or jog their memory about you?
+ Future: What are your future goals/plans/next steps?
+ Ask an engaging question (open-ended, not yes/no)

These 4 C’s will help you to know what to include in your elevator introduction. 


“Hi there, I’m Kate. I’m from Orange County. I’m one of the contestants in the Miss category. I can’t wait to perform talent tonight! What brings you here?”

“Hi, I’m Stephanie. I’m from Miami. This curly hair is so grateful to be competing in the dry heat here in Vegas. Where are you traveling from?”

“Hi, I’m Courtney. I’m the Miss contestant that created the gardening kits for kids in Uganda. How are you enjoying your experience with the pageant so far?” 


Your legacy project is what you will promote throughout your entire year. Sometimes it’s in conjunction with the pageant’s platform and sometimes it’s a personal platform. Either way, you want to get into the habit of interjecting this whenever possible.

“One thing I’m excited about is…

“…connecting with clubs and community organizations who are seeking speakers on the topic of healthy lifestyles. …

“…interviewing hospital volunteers on their greatest struggles. …

“…getting the word out about my free online fitness program. …

“Do you know anyone that would benefit from this type of project?” 


“Would it be okay with you if I followed up with you about this after the pageant? What’s the best way to reach you?” 


“Thanks so much for your conversation. It’s always nice to meet great people at these types of events!”

And that’s a wrap! It’s truly that simple, but it does take practice thinking off the top of your head without the worry of feeling judged. If two humans get on an elevator together, they should absolutely interact! If a pageant girls’ in there, every body better be leaving feeling glittery!

The elevator introduction is a great tool for networking. Of course, it doesn’t have to always take place in an elevator either. This quick introduction can be impactful at career fairs, charity galas, vacation getaways, airports, really anywhere you want to leave a lasting impression.

That, ladies is how you win a pageant. 

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