Today's topic: How to build the communication skills necessary to be ready for the job of Miss Minnesota.
Miss Minnesota must be able to connect and communicate with anyone, anywhere, anytime, and in any situation. She needs to effectively use her written and verbal communication skills to maintain her blog, to interview with television and radio stations, or to film promotions for pageant sponsors. She must be able to stand in front of a crowd and motivate people to support the Miss Minnesota Scholarship Program, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and her platform issue of choice. She must articulately answer questions about all three of these areas; after all, she is the expert. If she doesn't know the answer, which sometimes happens, she must be able to handle it gracefully. Miss Minnesota must also have the interpersonal skills to connect with anyone and everyone, from a small child with a disability, to the CEO of a service organization or potential corporate sponsor, to the Governor of Minnesota.
Here is a rough outline of what your speech might look like:
1. Introduce yourself
*2. Give an overview of the Miss America Organization
*3. Note the Miss America Organization's national partnership with the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals
-What it is
-Gillette Children's Hospital is Minnesota's CMN Hospital and all proceeds you raise directly help children in Minnesota
-How you are raising money (if you are selling something, bring it to your presentation and sell it after you are done speaking)
4. Introduce the main topic of your presentation: your personal platform
-3-5 problems associated with your platform issue
-Negative impacts of those problems (Why should your audience care?)
-Solutions (Keep in mind: don't just educate them, motivate them. How can THEY help alleviate the problems associated with your platform issue?)
5. Closing: "Thank you so much for listening to my message today. I am now ready to field any questions you have about the Miss America Organization, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, or Autism Spectrum Disorder (insert your platform issue)."
*For key points about the Miss America Organization or the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, either visit their official websites or check out the Miss America Organization and Children's Miracle Network pages I have built on this website.
Throughout this presentation, be sure to also provide anecdotes illustrating your experiences. You might paint a picture about how much you have grown through your involvement with the Miss America Organization. You might tell them about an inspiring encounter with a patient from Gillette Children's Hospital. I shared stories about my brother Trevor to illustrate my experience with Autism Spectrum Disorder. It is important to keep in mind that your audience will only remember 7% of what you say. What they will remember are the stories you tell and how those stories made them feel.
My experience speaking at Rotary Clubs helped me in a number of ways:
1. Meeting and connecting with new people: I was thrown into a room filled with people I didn't know. I had to be able to confidently introduce myself to the club members as they arrived at the Rotary meeting. This was also an opportunity to small talk a bit, learn more about them and what they do for a living, and perhaps collect a business card or two for the purpose of pursing my own career goals or obtaining sponsors for the Miss Minnesota program.
2. Public speaking: Not to state the obvious, but my public speaking skills improved dramatically. I was able to connect with my audience, deliver an important message, and leave people feeling both educated and motivated.
3. Interviewing: Having key points about the Miss America Organization, the Children's Miracle Network Hospitals, and my personal platform already memorized in speech form made it easier for me to be articulate in an interview setting, particularly when speaking with the media when you have a very short amount of time to get your message across. These key points were also useful during events when I would literally be thrown on stage to speak because an event coordinator needed some filler. In addition, the question/answer session following my presentation gave me a good grasp of what a pageant judge might want to ask me during my pageant interview. Not to discredit mock interviews, which are helpful preparation for a pageant, but in my opinion, this experience is even better than a mock interview because it is real-life.
I encourage you, no, DEMAND that you contact your local civic organizations TODAY! These organization are ALWAYS looking, practically begging, for speakers!
Here is an example of how you might get started:
1. Visit the Rotary 5950 website. Click "5950 Clubs" and search for Rotary Clubs in towns near where you live.
2. Send a brief email to the listed contact. You might mention that you are competing for Miss Minnesota in June, and you are looking for ways to improve your communication skills and also share an important message about your platform (be sure to share you personal connection to your platform). If you know what day of the week the Rotary meets, suggest a few times that you know you have available to speed up the process of scheduling your presentation. Be sure to email clubs today because some clubs like to schedule their speakers a few months out.
"Natalie, what happens if all the civic organizations I contact are already booked through June?" Excellent question! Deliver your presentation to your committee members, you coaches, your family members, and yes, your stuffed animals (Don Baker even condones this!). The more you practice, the better!
The honest truth is this: you will not win the title of Miss Minnesota without effective communication skills in place. And if by some dumb luck you do win Miss Minnesota without those skills, you will not be an effective Miss Minnesota.
If you have any questions about what I have discussed in this blog, please do not hesitate to email me by clicking the Contact link above or post a comment below so everyone can benefit from your question!
All my love (including the tough love!),