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How to Make a Performance Entertaining

An audience favorite during a pageant talent competition sometimes leaves contestants wondering, “What are the judges looking for?” Aside from the demonstrated ability in your talent of choice, the judges are looking for one thing… entertainment value.

As a two-time National Talent winner with National American Miss and owner of Pageants 2 Go, I have spent many years trying to find the perfect “talent formula.” It took me a very long time to figure out that, when it comes to the talent competition, simply having talent is not enough. Ask yourself these questions, “What good is a fantastic vocalist who doesn’t entertain?” “What good is an amazing dancer who fails to connect and engage the judges?”  Oftentimes, your presentation of your pageant talent truly makes the difference between a good talent and a winning talent.

pageant talent
A lovely pointe dance from one of our models

Ingredients to a Winning Talent Performance

Making your talent performance THE winning talent includes the right combination of the following: costume, choreography, eye contact, and song choice. All of these factors are a part of your performance and should be paid as much attention as learning your pageant talent.

Pageant Talent Tips for Singers

For singers, first choose a song that suits your voice. Sopranos should not be singing belty Broadway songs… you need to work with your voice, not fight against it. Once you’ve settled on a song choice, think about what the message of the song. Can you emotionally connect with the storyline? And does your outfit, make-up and stage movement match the meaning of the song? Can you slide into the character of the song? Character is the persona you will take on while performing your pageant talent. If, for example, you were singing a song from “Phantom of the Opera” you might take on the character of Christine. If you’re singing a Hannah Montana song, you should be embodying Miley Cyrus while up on stage and have fun “rocking out.”

How to Win in Dance

For dancers, song choice is just as important. Your song should be entertaining if you’re doing an up-beat tap or jazz number. And “moving” if you’re performing a ballet of lyrical number. Again, listen to the lyrics and try to step into the story of the song while dancing. A lot of dancing is feeling the music… don’t be afraid to engage fully in your song as this will enable the audience and more importantly the pageant judges to be fully engaged with you.

How Instrumentalist Succeed in Pageant Talent

If you are an instrumentalist, don’t underestimate the power of choosing an entertaining song played with flair. While a well-played, technically difficult piece can do very well, I have also seen less difficult, contemporary pieces played well and with great fanfare score highly. A major pet peeve of mine when it comes to instrumentalists is when a contestant brings her sheet music with her during the performance. Vocalists are expected to know their notes and lyrics… dancers are expected to know their choreography… instrumentalists, too, should have their talent memorized. Furthermore, not being dependent on sheet music greatly opens up your ability engage the audience while you play.

Aside from the talents mentioned above, there are many other things I have seen: from the more common monologues and karate routines, to the more exotic hula hooping and roller-blading pieces. No matter the talent, the evaluation scale remains the same. Ask yourself:

  • “Is this entertaining?”
  • “Am I engaging the audience with my talent?”
  • “Am I interested in my talent to the point where my interest shines through in my performance?”

So long as your answer is “YES!” to these questions, you can’t go wrong! Remember… when it comes to the talent competition don’t just do… engage, perform, and entertain!

Which dress do you like better?

4 thoughts on “How to Make a Performance Entertaining

  1. It’s different for an instrumentalist to memorize their talent than for a vocalist or dancer. I’m a vocalist and an instrumentalist. Its definitely possible but if you forget a part of a piece, it’s harder to improvise compared with vocals where it’s more easily possible. In addition, I have always been taught that as an instrumentalist I should always have my sheet music with me; it’s protocol.

    1. All I all though, you have good points! Talent is about being engaging

  2. How about entertaining and winning with a monologue?

    1. Hi Allison,

      What is your specific question so that we can better answer you?

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