Pia Alonzo Wurtzbach poses with the judges of the 2015 Miss Universe Pageant. Photo: Miss Universe OrganizationIt's almost Valentine's Day, so while we have love on our minds... how can we make our pageant judges fall in love with us? While you may catch their attention in your evening gown, you have to make the judges fall in love with you during interview to take home the crown. Deb Sofield, Winning Pageant Coach who has the titleholders to prove it, gives the three rules of winning the hearts of your pageant judges. Rule #1: It's a Conversation If you were to try to make your crush fall for you, what is the first thing that you would do? If you want to build a deep connection with someone who catches your eye, the first step is to talk to them. The same goes for your pageant interview. You're already looking your absolute best and the judges have taken note of you on your paperwork. The next step? Have a conversation! "Too many girls are taught wrongly to have the right answers to every question," Deb says. "It just gets old." As a pageant judge, what she is looking for is conversation. The judges want to get to know you, and they want to interact with you. Do not go into your interview with memorized answers to every question possible. Walk in ready to interact with the judges, and to let them get to know you. The judges are looking for someone to prop up at nationals. Part of being a contestant fit for the next level is being someone who knows herself, rather than knowing all the "right" answers. If you were to sit down with these judges and have a conversation with them over lunch, you would enjoy time together. That is what you want for your pageant interview. "Walk in like we're friends," says Deb. Depending on the pageant, the judges may see you outside of the pageant interview room, and they're going to watch the way that you handle yourself in any circumstances that they see you in. You don't want to be prepared for interview alone. Allow what you learn about yourself and presenting your image to others to carry over into the way that you interact in your day to day life. If you live and breathe the way that you do in the interview room, that is going to be tangible to the judges and help your scores. The judges can't get to know you if they don't think what they're seeing in the interview is really you. (Read: How Pageant Directors Choose and Instruct Judges) Rule #2: You Need to be Likable Now that you've started the initial conversation with your crush, the next step is getting him to like you. In a pageant interview, the process of making the judges fall for you works essentially the same way. "What makes you likable?" Deb asks. Think about what those attributes are. Those are the characteristics that you want to present and accentuate in your interview. The judges are choosing someone who is going to represent and work closely with the pageant organization for the next year. They're going to choose someone that they like. "We do business with people we like," says Deb. Once you have a conversation flowing, work on bringing your likable characteristics out. In this stage of winning the judges' pageant love, you want to connect with them on a deeper level. Find out who your pageant judges will be ahead of time and look into what's important to them. Look for places of shared interest or purpose and, where appropriate, include these areas of interest in your interview. (Read: How to Win Over a Pageant Coach Judge in Interview) Rule #3: Be Genuine The third step in making someone fall for you is to be real. When you have someone that you like, you obviously want to impress them. However, we've all seen the movies where someone goes too far and forfeits being honest to win the affections of their dream girl or guy. It never turns out well. The same is true of your pageant interview. If you toss out being yourself to be someone that you think the judges will like, you lose your chances with them. "I don't want you to change," says Deb. Rather, she wants to see you be the best version of yourself that you can be. Don't think that there's a right answer; the judges want to see what you believe. Deb adds, "You can disagree with a judge and still win." "If you want me to fall for you, be genuine," Deb says. The longer you are in a pageant, the more opportunity you have to become "pageant-y" and less authentic. Don't allow your experience with the system, or pageantry in general, allow you to become inauthentic. Be real, be genuine, be someone who's conversational and likable, and go out there and make your judges fall in love with you! Deb Sofield is a winning pageant coach in the Southeast, and around the nation, and you can find her at tocoachaqueen.com.
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