“Mic Check… One, Two!” – Keys to Nailing your Contestant Intro
A contestant introduction usually transpires at the beginning of a pageant after the opening number (a short dance sequence). Contestants are generally choreographed to funnel toward a stationary stage mic that is front and center. In most pageants, each girl states her name and either hometown or title. Some pageants will have girls state their age or recite a short blurb about themselves, their state, etc. This process is the contestant intro in a nutshell. Outside of shaking your tail feather in the opening number, the intro is the first time the judges will see you (and hear you!) on stage.
Before my first pageant, I had barely come in contact with a stationary stage mic. This is the case for many first-time contestants…and you can spot them a mile away. These girls lean in toward the mic, their lips almost touching it, and either shout into it or speak much too softly. They hunch over or stand on their tippy toes trying to modify their God-given (okay, shoe-given) height to align their faces directly with the unwavering mic. Sometimes you can’t even hear what they are saying because Miss USA herself has just finished her introduction and the crowd is going wild. Awkward. To avoid being pigeon-holed as a novice, review our tips below that can help you nail your contestant intro:
Tell Me When To Go: Listen closely to any and all choreography instructions during rehearsals. You will need to know exactly which contestant to follow to the mic. If it helps, follow her around all weekend! There are few things more embarrassing than a random pause between contestants because you forgot who you follow on the mic. If this does happen, shake it off and pretend that pause was on purpose. Always recover with a smile.
Wait for Applause to Dissipate: While watching old pageant videos, I was surprised to note how many girls did not wait until the applause for the previous girl died down before they began their own introduction. This inevitably led to the audience and judging panel missing the name. The Queen of England with her 9,000 fans in the audience may be introduced before you. Wait at the mic until the roar dissipates. You may be standing there until Uncle Buck with his fog horn finally decides to sit down. You earned this moment. Wait for it.
Strike a Pose: Treat the mic as if it is your mark to hit a pose. Do not under any circumstance do a “drive by” intro in which you basically walk by the microphone while saying your name and scurry off stage change into your swimsuit. I’m not saying spend all day up there grinning at the judges like a loony tune, but STOP in front of the microphone, hit an appropriate pose, and begin your spiel. An appropriate pose would either be the power stance (hands on hips, legs apart) or the standard pageant pose (legs together, one knee popped, arms at sides or on hips). Pause in your pose for a few seconds after your intro is complete then exit. This is the judges’ first long look at you in stage lighting. Glow! Smile! Enjoy!
What Are You Looking At: In a perfect world, the mic would be directly at your mouth-level and you would look out into the adoring audience as you state your intro. In reality, the mic could be above or below your mouth. Disregard its height and place yourself about one foot away from it. For heaven’s sake, do not gaze into the mic while you are talking regardless of placement. We see this time and time again. You are not talking to the microphone. The microphone is amplifying your voice as you look at the audience and judging panel. It may be above your mouth or below your mouth, simply stand in front of it and the mic will do its job. You do not need to hunch over or get on tippy toes to get closer. It will pick up your voice, I promise.
Volume Control and Intonation: Avoid screaming. Avoid whispering. Speak as if you are trying to converse with an audience member in the last row. Volume is subjective, but don’t go crazy; either extreme is not ideal. You are aiming to be louder than a normal conversational voice but not on the verge of yelling. Sounding excited and peppy yet professional is also key…think E! News reporter not high school cheerleader.
We hope these guidelines help you nail your intro. Need help writing an intro? Comment below and we’ll help you score a memorable first impression!