The onstage question in any pageant is one of the most nerve-wrecking experiences you will probably go through. I remember answering my first onstage question, and completely looking the opposite way the judges were sitting, and totally forgetting what the question even was. First thing to make sure you remember:
Staying calm during your onstage question is the foundation for having good body language on stage. The onstage question is simply just a way for the judges to see how you think on your feet---think about it as continuing your interview from the previous part of the competition. Take a deep breath and don’t think about it too much! Body language can make or break you in a competition. The way you present yourself to the judges says a lot about who you are as a person and how you will respond in situations of stress. It is hard to remember to focus on your body language when you’re being interrogated, but take it one step at a time and you will be fine! Knowing the right body language strategy is dependent on the individual. Some people are more reserved than others, so do what you are comfortable with, but here are some of the best strategies to use when conquering your onstage question:
Smiling onstage not only shows that you are a positive individual, but shows that you are confident. Having a smile on stage also shows the judges that you are always ready to present yourself in public settings, which is key to being a titleholder.
Make Eye Contact
When you are looking around at the crowd, the judges will be able to tell. Looking at the judges lets them know that you are engaged in the question and ready to answer whatever they ask of you! Again, making eye contact shows how confident you are!
When answering the onstage question, I am always sure to stand in my “pretty feet”. Those of you who don’t know, “pretty feet” is the positioning of your feet in a T-shaped fashion. For me, standing in this position allows me to be fully grounded on my feet, and opens up my body so that I am not closed off from the judges. When standing on stage, my legs definitely start to shake tremendously out of nervousness, and standing in this position helps me to stay still and focused on answering the question.
Stand Up Straight
So many times I have seen girls walk on stage with not-so-pretty posture. Standing up straight makes a huge difference! Straightening your back and holding your head up high is essential to letting the judges know that you are ready to present yourself well in any occasion. Standing up with your head held high will tell the judges that you are confident in who you are and want them to see that too!
Make Engaging Hand Gestures
When I answer questions, I always tend to talk with my hands. In my opinion, using hand gestures is a great way to help the judges engage and relate to what you are saying. Just be sure your hand gestures are at a normal range. You don’t want to be swinging your arm around on stage and causing a distraction from your answer to the question.
Moving around, playing with your fingers, tapping your foot, etc., all distract the judges from you. When you are constantly moving on stage, the judges' eyes will naturally move from your face to wherever the movement is coming from. You want the judges engaged in your face and your presence, not in the annoying habit you have of twirling your hair.
Although this isn’t exactly characterized as a body language strategy, it is important to speak up during your onstage question. I have been a victim of stage fright during my onstage question before, and it becomes to easy to get too nervous to speak clearly onstage. When answering your question, stand up straight and speak up. Make sure you are speaking clearly enough that the judges are able to hear every word you speak. The last thing you want is for them to have to guess what you said in your answer. Speaking loud and clear for all the hear is a great way to show the judges you will be confident speaking in front of any crowd!
After answering your onstage question, you should always thank the judges. They are the ones who have provided you with this opportunity, so it is always good to say thanks. You could physically say “thank you” after you finish your question or you could simply gesture a thank you to them, but either way, show your gratitude! It will be noticed. The onstage question is a difficult part of competition because it really tests your confidence level. A friend of mine told me this, and I can completely relate to this when I am competing!
“The easiest way to lose your confidence is to compare yourself to the other contestants. When I'm on stage I try to block out the other girls and pretend I'm already wearing the crown. It's kind of silly, but it works!” –Paige Knight, Miss West Coast Teen USA
Remember, stay calm, take a deep breath and show the judges what you got! The first step to winning is believing that you can! Be confident in your abilities and you will go far.
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