Many pageants invite the contestants to prepare a brief opening statement or a closing statement that is presented during your interview, as an on-stage introduction, or in your on-stage question portion. Since you have time to prepare for this, the judges will expect you to have full control in this moment to help them really understand you in a very short amount of time.
Some pageants don’t explicitly say you’ll do an opening or closing statement. These are sneaky! It’s sorta like “you don’t have to have a platform for our pageant,” yet they expect you to create a legacy project without asking for it. Same thing: just because they don’t say it doesn’t mean you don’t have to do it. You do – plus, you have to know when to use these statements to pack a punch!
As you know, I always make everything easy on ya, so I have an outline to help you do this.
1. Consider the highlights of 3 snapshots in time: your past, your present, and your future.
We’re gonna unpack each of these and help you create an awesome intro for your upcoming pageant!
Get out a piece of paper. Make 3 columns and label them Past, Present, Future. Think about each of these elements as they relate to the pageant and your judges. What are the highlights that stand out in each category of time? Write down everything that comes to mind in the first 3 minutes. Start with the past and present columns. Then, think strategically about your future. What goals do you want to accomplish, especially as a result of your pageant win.
2. Now, choose the best aspects of each category.
Get your coach to help you with this, because sometimes the ones that stand out are ones you are too familiar with to see as a highlight. Choose highlights that are clear, respectable, align with your brand, and easy to communicate. For example, you may have grown up on a sustainable farm and now you are lobbying for environmental issues and want to help pass legislation for sustainable living. You may overlook the fact that you grew up on a farm even though that’s vital to the story now. Or, maybe you overcame an illness as a child and you are currently a healthy, productive member of society and want to give others this same opportunity. Do you see? Past. Present. Future.
Following the Past-Present-Future outline allow the judges to better understand WHO you are, WHAT you’re about, and HOW you’ll help.
3. From your brainstorm, come up with a clear personal statement.
I usually do this for my clients because, frankly, they aren’t that good at it. And you probably won’t be either. You’re too close to your own situation, so enlist a friend to help you analyze your life highlights and find the thread that connects each of them.
From this, you’ll build out an interview statement, introduction or on-stage answer within the confines of the pageant requirements.
For example, in Miss America pageants you could do a 30-second closing statement at the end of your 10-15 minute interview. After 15 minutes, the judges tend to know you well, so this is more of an opportunity to recap what you (hopefully) already covered and drive home the importance of choosing you for this role.
Even if this option of writing a statement in advance isn’t obvious, don’t be fooled! You still need to do this! Your opening question in a panel interview and usually every single judge in a private one-on-one interview will be along the same lines just getting to know you – your past, your present and your future. So, the more you are able to clearly describe yourself in this brief snapshot, the better the judges will know you and trust you as a titleholder.
PRO TIP: For the pageant pro, there are a few more steps to writing this depending on the setting.
For example, in an interview setting, you’ll want to be more creative with the seeds you plant and not tell the full story – instead, you want to set yourself up for some powerful questions…which, of course, you’ll already be prepared to answer…that’s called “leading the interview” But, that’s another lesson for another day.
Here is the exact opening and closing I used for each one-on-one interview at Miss International.
Open “TELL ME ABOUT YOURSELF” story:
Growing up, each of my parents had a very different relationship with exercise. Seeing where their choices have led them, I believe fitness is directly connected to quality of life. I am motivated to stay fit for my health and I want to instill that motivation in others.
As a lifestyle fitness expert and health educator, I’ve worked alongside the America Heart Association for 10 years, and I’ve established my own initiative, Get a Better Body, which has already impacted 100’s of lives.
My job as an educator is to help others understand the value of daily fitness. My job as Miss International will be to connect the understanding with the access. My partnerships with the American Heart Association and the International Sports Sciences Association will allow me to create the DVD program that will keep people around the globe healthy for years to come and leave a legacy of connection and health for the pageant program.
Remember, every time you talk about yourself, you are trying to help the judges understand who you are, what you’re about, and how you’ll help.
And, that ladies, is how you win a pageant.
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