This is an article that appeared on Turn For The Judges Website - a website dedicated to helping pageant contestants, parents and directors find pageant related information. We have many clients of Mental Management who compete in pageants or are stage performers so this post is for them. Last night I attended a pageant where I noticed several girls not connecting in their performances and it reminded me of this article.
When Stage Presence Matters
My favorite pageants to watch are the ones that include a talent portion. I’m a singer and performer myself so watching others perform is a joy to me. Most competitors I have met who compete in talent say that talent is their favorite part of competition but that does not always show on the stage. What amazes me the most is the lack of stage presence knowledge. If talent is included in your pageant competition, please take the time to prepare for your performance. Do not just go through the motions on stage. Below are some key points I think every performer should take to heart in preparation for talent competition.
Practice! Practice not only your moves, your words, your notes but practice your performance. Pretend EVERY TIME you practice your talent selection that you are performing for 10,000 people in a sold out arena and the man on the 3rd row is about to sign you as an entertainer making you millions. Pretend for a moment that the little old lady in the last row is straining desperately to hear you or see you. Pretend that there is a depressed woman on row 6 who needs a little inspiration to make it trough the next few months and YOU are that inspiration. Forget about the judges, forget about the scores and think about the people you may touch. Put those feelings into your performance, not the feeling of winning but the feeling of changing a life through your talent. This will completely change the way you practice and approach your song, dance or music forever. Every day you practice talent practice it as if it is the day of competition. Whenever possible practice for an actual people. Family members, friends and neighbors make a great audience.
Remember Your Job as an Entertainer: Your job is not to simply sing or dance or play music. That will not impress judges or change any emotions or lives. Your job is to tell a story through your performance. To tell a story you have to let the audience into your performance. You have to include them in your movements, your eye contact, your tempo changes and your volume changes. Imagine that you have to get your message across to a person who doesn't want to listen....what would you change about your performance to reach that person?
Choreography is Key: You need to have set movements within your song - dancers already have movement obviously and this may be easier for them - make sure those movements include eye contact with as much of the audience as possible (judges included). Singers and musicians - have set movements and reasons for those movements. Practice those movements so they are embedded in your subconscious and will come out like or not on competition day. If you not practice set choreography you are likely to either not move or move without purpose on competition day.
A Performance Without Personality is Pointless: Bring the emotion of the song to the stage - use your eyes to tell the story. Your motions and eye contact should reflect the power of the message not your nerves or lack of emotion/feeling. You need to understand what message you are trying to send and do everything in your power to change the lives of those who matter - your audience.
Prepare Mentally For Competition: Most contestants do not have a clue how to mentally prepare for competition because it is typically not taught by pageant directors, parents or coaches. Confidence places a key role in performance of any kind. How do I prepare mentally for competition? What can be done to help ensure a more consistent performance under pressure? Mental Management Systems was founded by Olympic Gold Medalist, Lanny Bassham. He used the system to win his medals and has been teaching his mental training techniques for the past 30 years. The book "With Winning in Mind" and Audio CD "What Every Pageant Contestant Should Know First About the Mental Game" is a good place to start.
Written by Heather Sumlin. Heather spent 7 years competing in pageants as a teenager and young adult. Since 1995 she has been a director, judge, entertainer and volunteer in the Miss America System. Currently she volunteers as the Mental Management Trainer for the Miss Plano/Frisco Organization in Texas. She is the Director of Customer Relations with Mental Management Systems and is a certified instructor of Mental Management to pageant competitors and stage performers.