Preparing for a pageant competition? There's a lot more to it than finding the perfect wardrobe. Heather Sumlin is the director of performance programs at Mental Management Systems, and she specializes in mental management training for pageants. Fourpoints talked with Heather to get her advice for the best way contestants could prepare themselves for competitions. For three weeks, we're sharing some of her tips with you!
This is part two of three.
If this is a contestant’s first time competing, how could she prepare for competition—especially if she has never been in a situation like this?
Find mentors. In life, no matter what goal you are pursuing, it is beneficial to find someone who has been there or who knows how to help you prepare for what is ahead of you. Mentors help to guide you and prepare you for the obstacles that you cannot see. Also, ask questions. Be willing to ask the director of the pageant questions. And if the director offers any workshop or optional orientation before the pageant, you should attend. It is difficult to know how to mentally prepare for a competition if you do not have guidance to help you know what to expect. The best advice I can give you, without talking with you directly, is to be a sponge the day of competition and use the time to learn. Also, do not wait until you know you can win to compete. Some of the best lessons can only be learned by competing.
How big of a role does confidence play during pageant competitions?
HUGE! Confidence is instrumental in a contest where you are judged on your “likability,” not just your ability. Confident contestants focus on how to strengthen their performance in each phase of competition and trust their training when they compete. They protect their self-image in preparation and on competition day. Contestants who lack confidence may be drawn to focus on the other contestants, measure themselves against the others, and worry about things outside of their control. A judge can tell if a girl lacks confidence; it will show in her body language, her volume of speech, her eye contact, and more. Confidence and consistency are the keys to being successful.
How can contestants exemplify confidence and poise on the stage?
The most common mental process that needs to be built, in most cases, is the self-image. When you are focused on building skill only, the self-image suffers. Self-image is built up or torn down by what we think. When we learn, we are not typically focused on protecting our self-image and many times we are our own worst critic; internally, the negative self-talk will actually keep the self-image from growing. You have to be in control of your thoughts and remain as positive as possible in preparation, even when things are challenging. You will perform as good as you think you can in competition, but not any better—even if you possess the skill. Competition day is all about trusting your training and having fun! The book With Winning in Mind, by Lanny Bassham, is the foundation of our program and includes a section dedicated to how to build self-image.
Source: Heather Sumlin, director of performance programs, specializes in Mental Management training for pageantry. Upbeat, motivated, fun, and encouraging, Heather can bring the best out in you! Not only will you learn the Mental Management system, but she will help you apply it to your pageant competition as well as other areas of your life. Heather is also offers interview training, resume and platform development, and creative workshop options as well as personal instruction for contestants ages 12 and up. Click here to find out more about Mental Management Systems!