Answering onstage pageant questions will let the judges know how well you can think on your feet!

As a pageant queen you will find yourself doing a lot of public speaking and answering questions in many different situations and at numerous events.  It could be in television or rodeo interviews, at banquets, schools, public appearances, or if you are a rodeo pageant queen, during rodeos. 

Don't be surprised by the questions people will ask you.  Some will be serious, off the wall, or for information.  As a representative for your pageant and title you need to be able to answer all questions with confidence and knowledge.  This is why we have a category called “impromptu” in rodeo pageants or just "onstage questions" in other pageants.  This helps the judges determine how well you can think on your feet, especially when under pressure or in difficult circumstances.

The best preparation for your onstage questions is by having knowledge.  The hardest part of answering these questions is the fear of the unknown.  You never know what you will be asked and so you are expected to be prepared to answer questiong that can cover any topic.  By studying and preparing you can improve your chances at doing well in this portion of the pageant.

Different pageant contests will have different methods of asking the onstage or impromptu questions.  Questions may be a variety of questions that are randomly drawn from a "hat" by each contestant or they may have the same question(s) for all contestants to answer. 

When asked the question, pause for just a second so that you can formulate how you will answer.  Many girls will start answering without thinking about what they want to say and then will regret what they have begun to say.

Speak clearly and distinctly.  Do not use slang words.  Look at the audience and your judges while answering.  If a question is asked such as, “Who is your role model?”  Don’t just name a person and quit.  Give a short reason why this person is your role model.   An answer which is about three sentences long is a good length for most questions.  Use personality and even humor when answering.  Always be positive. 

If you don’t know the answer, say so.  The judges are scoring you at that time and saying you will get back to them at a later time will not work.  If you think you know the answer, be positive and confident.  Even if it is incorrect, you might convince everyone that you know what you are talking about.

Always end your answer with a solid statement and final word.  Don’t just let your sentence trail on or your voice drop off in volume.  Let the audience and the judges know that you are finished by stepping back and handing the microphone to the emcee. 

Expect questions to be about a variety of topics including current events or personality.  If you are participating in a rodeo queen contest the questions might also be about rodeo or equine knowledge.  Study and practice answering questions at home like you would as if you are already in front of the panel of judges. 

The more knowledge you have the easier this category will become.

For Coordinators and Reigning Queens:

Typically the pageant director or reigning queen will write the onstage questions to be asked during the pageant.  There are some important things that should be considered when putting these together as you want this to be a good experience for the contestants.

When preparing onstage and impromptu questions make sure that if your contestants are drawing them, that the questions can be considered ‘even’ for all contestants.  Having contestants answer the same question might be a better tool for the judges in evaluating all of the contestants.  But, you will need to have a secure room or area so that the other contestants cannot hear the questions and answers onstage.

The best onstage questions are ones that are open-ended and have no right or wrong answer just an opinion.  Questions that show some knowledge about an issue but also show the personality of the contestant are very appropriate.  Try not to embarrass your contestants in front of the audience.  This is one thing that discourages many girls from becoming pageant queen contestants.  Save the really hard questions for the interview.

Current event questions that make a statement and then ask a question can give older contestants an opportunity to show their knowledge, commitment or beliefs about issues.  An example of a good statement and question is:  Many people feel that vouchers should be available to families who want to educate their children outside of the public school system.  How do you feel about this option?

Being onstage in front of a group of people can be unnerving to all contestants but is an important part of the contest as this will help participants develop good public speaking skills.