Public Speaking in Pageantry

Growing up in the south, one of my favorite things to do was to watch pageants. Miss USA, Miss Teen USA, Miss Universe, you name it I have watched it. Savvy Shields, Miss Arkansas 2016 was crowned Miss America in the 2017 competition. This was truly inspiring because she’s from Fayetteville, Arkansas, about twenty miles south of where I live. When I was younger, I loved when the contestants walked out in their pretty dresses and I would dream of wearing one of my own. Now when I watch these events with my sisters, I tend to hyper-analyze their speaking ability because the winner of these events should not be picked based on looks alone.


I knew that there was an enormous amount of exposure if you win these contests but I didn’t realize that the prize for winning Miss America is a six-figure salary and a $50,000 scholarship for the year. I can’t imagine the pressure of being on live television and having that much money and opportunity on the line.


The most memorable speech I have watched was during the 2007 Miss Teen USA competition. The South Carolina representative, Caitilyn Upton, answers the question: “Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?" Upton responds with: “I personally believe that U.S. Americans are unable to do so because, uh, some, uh, people out there in our nation don't have maps and, uh, I believe that our education like such as in South Africa and, uh, the Iraq, everywhere like such as, and, I believe that they should, our education over here in the U.S. should help the U.S., uh, or, uh, should help South Africa and should help the Iraq and the Asian countries, so we will be able to build up our future. For our children”

(watch it here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lj3iNxZ8Dww)


Whether you compete in speech and debate events or beauty pageants, public speaking will be used throughout your life. You will be giving presentations in school, reading aloud in church, or presenting to the board at work so it’s something everyone should prepare for. In this specific example, the contestants don’t know what to expect in a question but they have to give a concise, thirty second response. There will always be something you aren’t completely prepared for but you have to find a way to get your point across and sound intelligent. When answering questions on the spot, I recommend restating the question using similar vocabulary and use the time when you are restating to think of an answer.


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Kennedy Marrs (she/her)

Bentonville West Sophomore

@kennedymarrs

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