Virtual pageants have been around for a while, but lately they have gained a lot of momentum for some odd reason! Seriously though, I never thought I would be hosting an all online pageant, but here I sit currently working on my second! The idea of doing pageants in a virtual world seemed intimidating to me so I avoided dipping my toe into the waters for as long as I could. But after jumping into the deep end, I must say the water here is fine. My first experience in the world of virtual pageantry came about with a small benefit pageant. Every year I host a small pageant called Miss Red Apple Days as a part of a fund raiser for our community’s volunteer fire department. For health concerns the small festival went all virtual this year, and they asked if I would be willing to try hosting a virtual pageant. I didn’t want to let them down so I felt compelled to give it a go.
Even though I may have gone into the process reluctantly, I’ve grown to have a bit of a soft spot for these virtual competitions! Don’t get me wrong I will be thrilled when we can all finally return to the glitz glamour of a live stage production! But it’s amazing how many benefits doing a virtual pageant has for the contestants!
Think about it! This is your one chance to be sure you have everything just right; you have all the control over what the judges see! Did you trip while walking in your gown? No problem, just record it again! Want to know exactly what your interview environment will be like? You get to decide! And there is nothing better for upping your pageant game than watching your performance back on video. It’s the one time that it pays to be your own worst critic! You will see every area you can improve on and then have a chance to do it over until it’s perfect! Recording yourself and watching it back is one of my top tips for pageant contestants preparing for any pageant!
But if my experience in the world of virtual pageants has taught me anything, it’s that there are a few basic things you can do to set your entry apart. So here are my top tips for wowing the judges and looking your best at your next virtual pageant!
Choose the right space.
This may seem super basic, but it is not to be overlooked! Choosing the right space is so important when recording an entry for a virtual pageant. More than once I have spoken to disappointed judges who felt a contestant with a great walk and a great dress, failed to go the distance because she chose a cramped or cluttered area to record in. When choosing a space for your virtual pageant recording, remember that it should be a large, clean, and open space free from clutter and distractions. So, do whatever you have to do to make this happen! Move the furniture, pull up the rug, send your pets in the next room! Whatever it takes! If you don’t have a space like this that can be cleared in your home, you have a few other options. Local schools and churches usually have stages, auditoriums, and gyms, all of which make an excellent space for filming! Call a local dance studio and ask if you can use their space. You can even use your driveway, or find a nice field at a local park, just be sure the background noises, and scenery aren’t distracting from your performance! When choosing a space for your zoom interview, be sure it’s quiet and your background is simple and clean. Video and background filters are cool, but this is not the time! Things like that can be distracting! Whenever possible be sure to set up your computer and test the audio first and avoid using a cell phone for your zoom interview whenever it is at all possible!
Don’t underestimate the power of great lighting! It can soften your features and highlight your beautiful face. This is not the time to rely on the basic overhead lighting of a room! The last thing you need is judges having to strain to see your smile because of bad lighting. Use tools you already have or can easily access. For an interview try to sit beside a well-lit window or consider using a ring light on a tripod mounted just above or around your camera if you can. If you don’t already have a lighting setup like this, you can get everything you need from Amazon for about $30! It will keep your face evenly lit and you can use the tripod to keep the camera steady for your evening wear walk! Lighting up a large space for your walk can be difficult so remember that natural light can be your friend if you use it well. While mid-day light from the sun may be bright, it’s also harsh and can cause squinty eyes and hard shadows. You can still choose to film outside but try to film early in the morning just after sunrise or in the evening an hour or two before sunset. This will help you shine in your best light.
Make the Best Use of the Technology You Have!
Many of today’s cell phones have amazing high definition cameras built-in, and that can help the judges see how glamorous you look! But be sure you know how to use this technology to your advantage! First of all, be sure to turn your cell phone sideways! Nothing is more frustrating than a judge viewing your video submission on their computer and seeing those big bars on the sides. Not only is it distracting but you appear much smaller on a computer screen (which is likely how your judges will be viewing it). be sure to turn the phone sideways before you hit record and your camera should automatically enter landscape mode. Your video will look instantly more professional to and allow you to really stand out to your judges. Be careful though. Holding any camera by hand, even a cellphone camera, can make for a very shaky video. I recommend using some sort of mount or tripod to avoid any unnecessary shakiness in your submission. It can make a huge difference in what the judges see if the video camera isn’t shaking and moves as smoothly as you do when you’re walking in your gown!
Don’t Lose Your Video Quality!
This is the big one! By far, I can say this is the single biggest mistake I’ve seen made by contestants competing in a virtual pageant! Video files are often too large to just email as they are. If you try to send the file in an email, or a text, or in Facebook messenger, it likely won’t matter how perfect your space is, how great your lighting is, or how clear your camera is! This one thing has the potential to ruin all of that. If the file is too large, it either will not send, or it will lose its quality and arrive blurry even if it looked great when you sent it! There is an easy fix for this! After you have recorded your video submission simply upload it to an online service. You can use Google Drive, Dropbox, even YouTube! Once you’ve done that, just email a link to your video! Easy as that, video quality saved!
Virtual pageants have been around for a while, but they are certainly becoming more commonplace in our changing world. Hopefully, these tips will help you secure your next big title. If you’re interested in checking out a really fun and exciting virtual pageant have a look at Miss Coast to Coast (link) Part of the AmeriFest family of pageants!