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How to Succeed at Your NAM State Pageant

19, March 2016

Representing the state of Florida, Michaela Abelgas went on to capture the 2015-2016 National American Miss title.

Representing the state of Florida, Michaela Abelgas went on to capture the 2015-2016 National American Miss title.

National American Miss is a pageant that is one of a kind! After being involved in this organization for eight years and having won three NAM state titles, I am still in awe at what the organization has done for me – gaining leadership skills, confidence, poise, and communication skills. Having said this, I hope to give back to the girls embarking on their NAM journey by helping to make the preparation process easier and more memorable! (Read: What to Pack for NAM Nationals)

NAM is all about confidence, personality, and representing today’s girl! Having said this, have fun with your formal wear walk. Walk at an elegant pace while maintaining eye contact with the judges. This shows that you are comfortable being on stage and it demonstrates that you are confident and proud of who you are. Remember that the judges are looking for a young lady who can command a room with the way she walks and presents herself. Be confident, natural, and most importantly, showcase that smile! Imagine yourself being announced for your Sweet 16 or Quinceanera. Enjoy the spotlight, be in command, and genuinely have fun with your special moment! Another question that I constantly get asked pertains to choosing the “right” dress for NAM. Though it may seem cliché, the dress alone does not win you the crown. Whether it is a custom-made Sherri Hill or off-the-rack department store gown, the only thing that matters is that it is age appropriate and it makes you feel like a queen. Through my years with NAM, I have seen girls win in gowns ranging from $50-$5,000.

However, the one thing they had in common was that the winner looked radiant in the dress. When I first started in 2007, I thought introduction was all about length and being as loud and animated as possible. I even had a state introduction that went on for 1 minute and 15 seconds. As you may have already guessed, that was not my highest score to date. I discovered that introduction was not about cramming as many Pinterest quotes and listing every achievement since elementary school, but rather it was about being bubbly, engaging, and showing the judges a little insight on who you truly are as a person. Talk about your plans for the future, your passions, or something that makes you stand out from the hundreds of contestants!

Highlight what you are most proud of but make sure your personality shines forth! In addition, stand in “pretty feet” and engage the judges and audience while speaking. Keep in mind, that as a state queen, you become an ambassador and spokesperson not only for the pageant organization but for causes throughout the state. Hence, the judges are looking for a girl who can speak confidently and command the room not only with her effervescent presence but with the way she speaks and presents herself.

Michaela Abelgas competes in the National American Miss Spokesmodel competition.

Michaela Abelgas competes in the National American Miss Spokesmodel competition.

After scoring a perfect 9.0 in the interview, I learned that there is no secret formula or set of perfect answers for the interview portion. The key to a successful interview is to BE YOURSELF! It is important to make sure your answer does not sound rehearsed or memorized. Embrace your quirks, your “nerdiness,” and if applicable (like it is for me) your love for One Direction – what makes you, YOU. Do not try to be politically correct or “pageantry.”

Trust me, ladies, “world peace” is not going to cut it because the judges want a girl that other girls can relate to! With the crown and banner, you should not only strive to be a role model, but someone who can be a friend and someone others can see themselves possibly becoming! Be friendly, relatable, natural, and memorable.

Michaela Abelgas is no stranger to the National American Miss stage!

Michaela Abelgas is no stranger to the National American Miss stage!

To make practice fun and enjoyable, go over any questions at any time with family and friends! It does not have to necessarily be “pageant questions,” but even the silliest of questions such as “Why is the sun yellow?” will help you gain the necessary skills to quickly narrow down your thoughts, be concise, and showcase your personality! (Read: Your Ultimate Guide to NAM Optional Competitions)

With an engaging personality, direct eye contact, and the ability to efficiently and effectively convey your message to the judges, you are on the path to success! Take advantage in participating in as many optional competitions as possible because it helps you lose your nerves before the required events and gives you the opportunity to showcase your other talents and passions! Now ladies, even after months of endless practice, pageant weekend might not end the way you want it to. Keep in mind that only one girl walks away with the title. If that girl does not turn out to be you it does not make you any less of a person. A quote I love to share with others is “There is no such as failure, only delayed success.”

I acknowledge that life has its ups and downs and we do not always get what we have hoped for. I have been disappointed several times but I know that I simply had to put my faith in God, believe in myself, and learn from my mistakes. With these sets of tips and advice, I hope that it has catalyzed your preparation for your upcoming state pageant! Best of luck and may it be the weekend of a lifetime!

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