Janice McQueen Ward, Pageant and Life Coach. Photo: Intuition Design PhotographyEntering a pageant means getting swimsuit and fitness ready, picking out the perfect gown, working on your stage presence and polishing your interview skills. But now you need a what? A platform! So, what do you do? Not every pageant requires a platform or has a platform directive, but I can tell you this: most judges and pageant directors want you to have a purpose for your reign and a reason to compete for the title, which is a job and a commitment. (Read: Pageant Question About Why Your Platform is Important) What is a platform? We live in a time where we are empowered to speak our minds and stand up for what we believe in. However, a platform is a very personal topic and, therefore, can be controversial and opinion based. Many pageant hopefuls pick a platform because of a family member who has an illness or condition, or because they overcame an obstacle or illness. But sadly, many pick a platform based on popularity or relevance. Which is better, passion or popularity? So, should a pageant competitor take a chance on a hot topic or play it safe? My opinion is that a platform is meant to be a passion. If you are entering a pageant to make a difference in yourself and others, then it is reflected in your work and service. You must pick a platform that is true to you and not just a safe and popular choice. (Read: 7 Ways to Promote and Develop Your Platform This Summer) Why? It will show in your interview, your performance and in your dedication to that platform. Having a cause, even two causes, will keep you motivated and active within your community. Plus, by having a reason, a cause and a platform, you can and will obtain more interviews, publicity, fulfillment and respect. How to choose your platform: I have outlined the best way to choose, plan and develop a strong platform that is worthy of a crown. 1. Personal connection It is important to be realistic with yourself – you will be more inclined to really work at a platform if you have a personal connection to the cause. (Read: Pageant Question About Your Involvement With Your Platform) A personal connection gives you a passion and true commitment to making a difference. Connect to what is authentic to you, your life and your experiences. You can share stories and give the judges an opportunity to know more about you. Personalization is key in standing out in an interview as you can be more specific and knowledgeable. (Read: How to Make a Lasting Impression in a 3-Minute Interview) 2. Be an individual If your pageant is affiliated with a platform, that is great, but you do not have to have the same platform as the pageant. It is better to have a real connection, a real passion, and a real story and reason behind the choice. Everyone knows when your platform isn’t authentic, especially you. Don’t fake it! You do need to know about the pageant’s platform and be able to speak about it, just like a job interview, but you need to stay true to your platform. Contribute time to the pageant’s platform, but don’t make it your own platform, unless it also speaks to you as an individual. 3. Try different things If you can’t find a cause that personally touches you, become a part of something your family, children, friends, church, work or school supports. This will allow you to network, find out more about yourself and then have a personal connection as you will be volunteering with the people you care about. (Read: Why Sisterhood is Important in Pageantry and How to Create It) How to start campaigning for your platform: 1. Make a plan of action Once you have become involved with an organization, take note if it has a mission statement or a plan of action. You need to have one as well. (Read: How to Build up Your Pageant Brand) Think about what you would like to see happen within the community of your organization and most importantly, how can you aid in that happening? What will you do to help? Be realistic about your available time and talents. 2. Build your network Network with other volunteers to bounce ideas off of each other, and volunteer to work even outside of your comfort zone as it will help you grow. (Read: How To Network During An Appearance) 3. Write it down Write your plan of action down. By documenting the things you want to do, it helps the dream become a reality. Make sure to include short- and long-term goals so that you are focused on realistic goals and opportunities. By writing down your goals and objectives this way, you have a plan and a commitment to making a difference! 4. Don’t compare yourself to others, ever! Not in a pageant, and not when volunteering your time. Volunteer for one hour per week or 10 hours per week, or volunteer locally versus nationally – any amount of dedicated time to a cause is great, and more people are needed to volunteer on every level. Things to remember You are a role model to your family, friends and community. If you volunteer for the right reasons, it doesn’t matter how little or how much. Feel good about what you are doing, because you are making a difference…every day of your life! So, what are you waiting for? Get started today.
She has developed three educational campaigns against sexual assault.Learn More