The onstage question.... Now if you talk to some contestants, the onstage question is both the most stressful part of the competition and the most rewarding. Being asked an onstage question usually means that you have advanced to the next round of competition. But with that being said, there is no guarantee that all the nerves from the competition day won't cause you to ramble your mouth off, just to answer a simple question.
Miss Vermont 2018 during her onstage question at Miss America 2019. Photo: Miss America Organization
We often look at the onstage question as one of the most challenging parts of any pageant competition. The onstage questions are sometimes political in nature, which I will admit, sometimes makes me nervous for what is to come. We never know what question we are going to be asked, and that animosity can be fatal when you're onstage in front of, potentially, hundreds of people. There have been so many times where I have let my nerves get the best of me in a competition.
It usually goes something like this: MC: What is one of the biggest problems facing our generation today?
Me: Well, um, I think technology, or bullying, they are really the biggest problems today, for our generation. Yeah our generation has a problem with this because, uh, well, you see...... MC: Thank you contestant number 2! So there you have it, the typical pageant girl ramble. No one can honestly say that they have nailed every onstage question that they have been asked. In reality, most people would admit to messing up once or twice because that is just the nature of the game! Being interrogated with a spotlight shining brightly down on you by an intimidating host, can get the best of some people. It is a surprisingly hard job to stay calm when being asked your onstage question simply because of the fact that most of us are way too excited to move to that round of the competition.
So, what do you do when you start rambling during your onstage question?
Breathing is something that we often overlook because it comes naturally to all of us. We don't think about breathing, we just breathe! When you're onstage for your onstage question, take a moment to breathe. Taking control of your breathing and realizing how you are taking your breaths, will make it easier to stay calm while you answer your question. Focusing on your breath will cause you to slow down your words and take time for a breather in-between statements. There is nothing worse than finishing your answer to the onstage question and having to take a deep breath - a sure sign you were holding your breath the entire time you were onstage.
2. Take a second to think before you speak. The second we hear our onstage question, our minds start racing a mile-a-minute, trying to find the perfect answer. There have been so many times where I start answering the onstage question the second I hear it, only to realize halfway through my answer, that I had forgotten the question. It is not uncommon to be so nervous that you forget what you are talking about. People do it all the time! We have all seen the horror videos: pageant girls answering the dreaded onstage question, only to be mocked by Youtubers around the globe. This terrible experience can all be avoided by taking a second to think about the question before answering it. It seems simple, but actually taking a second to think about what question is being asked, and how you are going to answer it, is going to benefit you in any interviewing process that you will go through.
3. Slow down.
Along with taking time to focus on your breathing and thinking about the question at hand, you have to remember to slow down when answering your onstage question. Personally, when I get excited (or nervous) about a topic that I am being asked, I will spew out all the information on said topic in record time, only to have the audience confused by the speed-of-light response coming out of my mouth.
Coaches and directors alike have been telling contestants to slow down when they talk so that the judges will not only understand what you are saying, but they will be able to see that you are calm enough to clearly articulate your thoughts during such a stressful moment. When you slow down and answer the question to your best ability, the judges will appreciate it. Judges aren't looking for a perfect answer, they're looking for the girl who can best handle herself when asked questions on the spot, as they will be during press releases and interviews possibly following their reign. It is easy to get down on yourself when you start to ramble during your onstage question. Just remember to breathe, think, & slow down. These tools will help you give a more confident and satisfying answer.
"Never give up on what you really want to do. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts."
-H. Jackson Brown, Jr.
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