Allie Nault, Miss America’s Outstanding Teen 2016 was named the recipient of the “Teens in Action” Award for her outstanding commitment to her platform.
Ever since the Miss America Organization founded the platform concept in 1989, requiring each contestant to choose an issue that she cares deeply about and that is of relevance to her country, the platform issue has become a staple in many pageant systems. This is because the platform issue demonstrates both the character of the contestant and promotes something that she cares deeply about. In order to perfect your platform for interview, the first thing that you're going to need is drive and determination.
1. A Reason that Runs Deep
To excel in the pageant interview, you want your platform to be something that you really connect with. You want it to be more than a social cause; it should be a cause that relates to you on a deeper level. Maybe someone in your family has dealt with that specific issue, or maybe it's something like cyber-bullying that you've experienced firsthand. Whatever it is for you, find an issue that is close to your heart. "It starts with looking inside and listening to your heart - not your head," says Rhonda Shappert, pageant expert and personal development coach.
2. Alignment with Your Brand Identity
"Without a brand identity, your platform appears lackluster and inauthentic. When the platform and the brand align, suddenly the judges feel an immediate connection, even in a super-short amount of interview time," says Alycia Darby, pageant coach and host of the iTunes #1 pageant podcast at WinAPageant.com. Once you've chosen an issue that runs deep with you, you want to make sure you know how it fits in with your brand identity. Consider how your platform connects with you and the ways in which you, as a titleholder, are a good fit to have an impact in regards to the issue that you've chosen.
3. "The Legacy Project"
"I call this the legacy project because this is the goal-oriented incarnation of her platform, making real change to leave a legacy," says Alycia Darby. The judges want to see more than just your ideas of implementation; they want to see the ways in which you are already implementing them. Judges will respond and relate in interview when you tell them a story of what you've already done towards your platform issue, rather than only sharing ideas of what you would like to do. If you're already working on your platform issue to make a difference, than the judges can trust that you will continue to do so as a titleholder. "There are lots of good ideas," says Alycia, "but not a lot of dedication to making them a reality. The key to your platform is to go out and accomplish what you desire."
4. Look on the Bright Side
"Platforms should be something people want to talk about. Instead of focusing on the shadow side of a cause, focus on the light," says Alycia. "For example, instead of 'combating bullying' focus on 'being a friend'." By focusing on the bright side, you engage people and get them involved. When you talk about the positive aspects you allow people to see more clearly the good that can be done, rather than dwelling on the difficulties of the issue at hand.
5. Get Real with the Judges
When concluding on your platform issue with the judges, be honest with them. Once you've made it clear the importance of your platform issue, let the judges know that you will continue to do something about it. Jimmy Lee Langhoff, Pageant coach of A Queen's Conversation, encourages contestants to emphasize to the judges that not doing anything is exacerbating the problem when it comes to your platform issue. Ask the judges for their help. After they've seen your reasoning, how this issue really aligns with your brand identity and that you are already in action for your platform issue, they're going to empathize with that. Once you've painted a picture of the positive changes that you're making for your platform and how important this issue is to you, they'll want to get on board.
With these keys to perfecting your platform issue, you can "wow" the judges in interview and take a giant leap towards making a difference with your platform issue, and towards winning your pageant. Best of luck!
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