Are You Pageant Ready?

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I read an article about a lawyer, Bill Alverson, who also coaches (very successfully) pageant contestants for their pageant interviews. Apparently his skill in prepping clients for trial has informed his pageant interview coaching.

I liken him to a good branding/presentation coach. I respect his theories on the interview process and I think they can be useful to everyone giving a presentation or a media interview. Here’s my version of his principles, backed by quotes from the article:

1. Know yourself and your story

“’The goal is for the girls to learn more and more about themselves,’ he said. ‘How was your perspective on your personal history formed? What do you value? How do you tell that story?’”

In an interview, your story is the basis for your response to every question. Every good presentation also tells a story. It takes thoughtful reflection to define it for yourself.

2. Decide what you want the judges (audience) to know about your story

“The girls have to decide — ‘What do I want the jury to know about me and my story?’”

Once you know your story, you’ll need to hone it. The trick is to keep it authentic while tailoring it to suit your purpose in the presentation/interview.

3.  Show various sides of yourself

“It’s not just about showing brains. You have to have a sense of humor. You have to be charming. You have to show personality.”

You are not one-dimensional; neither is your story. In an interview, allow your answers to show the full range of qualities you would like to communicate. In a presentation, include all the relevant points that help you convince your audience to adopt your point of view about the matter at hand.

4. Your entire interview has to be consistent.

“Each interview question is an opportunity to present a different witness — one to show your personality, another for humanity, another to be your justification — but it all has to be consistent. That’s where a lot of girls fall, because there are disconnects in their answers.”

All your answers need to reflect a consistent message. In an interview, that is your story – the person you want them to know. In a presentation, all the data and points need to work together to support your main message/point of view. Isolated bits of information and disconnected responses to questions can confuse the audience, leaving them feeling they never got the bigger picture.

5. Research the judges (audience) and connect with them via commonalities.

“Understanding juries is central to Alverson’s interview prep. He researches judges…he instructs his charges to deploy the data carefully. ‘You have to be authentic and not too obvious. You don’t want to say, “Like you, I am this.” But you can empower [a judge] and say subtle things that suggest commonalities.’”

No matter whom you will be speaking to, knowing their needs and interests will allow you to connect with them. Show them how you understand them by framing your material according to what you know about them and what they are looking for, and by referring to what you believe will touch them in some way.

6. Set it up for the judges (audience) to come to the “right” conclusion.

“It’s about empowering the people who are going to make a decision to connect the dots. I set up the dots.”

Everything you say has to move your audience along, logically and emotionally, from where they started to where you want them to go. The information needs to progress in a logical manner, but it also needs to move your audience on a personal level. Then you have the best chance of them taking the action you would like.

Think of these principles the next time you have a media interview or a presentation. They might take you one step closer to winning the proverbial “tiara.”

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