Public speaking is the number one fear in America. The Personal Introduction competition (or personal intro) seeks to change that.
This competition is exactly what it sounds like: an opportunity for pageant contestants to introduce themselves in front of the judges and audience. Usually offered as a required competition, personal intro is one of the only opportunities contestants have to speak to onstage.
What to Expect
Personal introduction usually occurs sometime before the interview competition. Contestants will take turns introducing themselves in a microphone, which is usually handed to them by the outgoing queen. This competition is usually open to the public, so family, friends, staff, and others will be watching, in addition to the judges.
Contestants will delivered pre-written and pre-memorized speeches. Some will write their own, others will hire a coach to write one for them. Girls will usually include more information than what is required of them to share, but more on that later!
What to Wear for Personal Intro
The vast majority of contestants will wear the same outfit for Interview and Personal Introduction. You want to stick to a bright, solid colored dress or jumpsuit. Don’t forget to be age appropriate!
What Judges are Looking For
Judges are looking for a titleholder who is a confident public speaker with an interesting story. The goal of this competition is to make an impression and be remembered.
Some judges will write their interview questions from your personal introduction.
Practice ahead of time so you can deliver a performance you’re proud of.
How to Write Your Intro
I’ve won every state title with an introduction I wrote myself, so I know how possible it is to succeed as a DIY Queen! We do offer introduction writing services for those who are interested.
Even if you write your own, it never hurts to have a coach provide you with edits or help you with delivery.
In the next following sections, we will discuss my process for writing a personal introduction the judges will remember.
Nothing’s worse than crafting an introduction only to realize that it doesn’t meet the pageant’s requirements or accurately showcase your achievements.
First, make a list including every guideline the pageant handbook provides you with. This includes time limits and any information that must be included in your introduction.
Here is an example of the requirements list for youth systems including National American Miss, Royal International Miss, and International United Miss:
- Name: Jordan Sanchez
- Hometown: Bronx, NY
- Fun fact or aspiration: We’ll talk about this in the next section!
- Time limit: 30 or 60 seconds
This step functions as a brainstorming technique and helps you generate content for your introduction. Without it, your introduction may seem unfocused.
Making this About You
Next, brainstorm a list of everything you feel has contributed to who you are today. There is no age range for this list, so include any experiences, fun facts, hobbies, or people who influenced you. Try to come up with 4+ things for this list.
- I’ve been ice skating since I was 3 years old
- I love to write, knit, and play the Sims
- I live in New York City and like to see broadway shows
- I was teased in middle school for wanting to be an astronaut
Celebrating Your Accomplishments
Then, make a list of all of your achievements from the last three years. Don’t filter yourself in this list! It doesn’t matter how big or small the success is. This is a great place to put the reach of your platform or your volunteer hours. Try to come up with 5+ things for this list.
Here is the list I came up with:
- The Queen Next Door has views from 130 countries.
- I’ve performed poetry for the United Nations, the cast of Black Panther, and the NYC council.
- I am a National Hispanic Scholar.
- I am Vice-President of Ted-Ed Club.
- I’m taking some of the hardest courses my school offers
Having Some Fun
Finally, you want to create a list of fun facts or unique things about you that you have yet to mention in the other lists. This can include your career goals, languages you know how to speak, hobbies, or things you enjoy learning. Try to come up with 3+ things for this list.
Here are some I thought of:
- I’ve studied Mandarin since 8th grade
- I want to be a particle physicist or politician
- I usually read fiction or self-help books
Communicating Your Personal Brand
In all speaking portions of competition, it’s important to convey your personal brand, or a focused picture of yourself, to the judges. This makes it easier for judges to learn about and remember you. This brand should be especially present in your personal introduction because of through-lines.
A through-line is a common theme or topic that is woven throughout the entirety of a speech, or in this case, your lists and personal introduction. You can create a through-line by circling, underlining, or highlighting bullet points that paint a similar picture.
Some common through-lines are creativity, women in business or STEM, volunteering, and education. Your through-lines can also be character traits such as, passion, dedication, empathy, and kindness.
Don’t be afraid to make your own that fit your personality better. Try to create as many through-lines as possible without repeating elements.
Tips: One of your through-lines should incorporate your platform. Not every element from you lists needs to be incorporated into a through-line.
The Queen Next Door (Platform)
- The Queen Next Door has views from 130 countries
- We challenge pageant stereotypes
- I use my experience to help others
- Pageantry has helped me build confidence after being bullied
- I love to write
- I’ve performed poetry for the United Nations
- I like to read fiction books
- I am a National Hispanic Scholar
- I’m taking some of the hardest courses in my school
- I’ve studied Mandarin since 8th grade
- I want to be a particle physicist
Choosing What to Write About
From these through-lines, you will need to pick two of them to include in your introduction. You can choose based on the number of elements, what relates to the required information, or which you’re most excited to talk about in Interview.
For example, you can see that academics mean a great deal to me because it has the most elements. This through-line also contains some of my accomplishments and career aspirations. Above all, it contains information that I want the judges to know.
The Queen Next Door through-line contains an element from the list of my background, my accomplishments, and my fun facts. This will help me present a more complete picture of myself to the judges in the short amount of time provided. It also contains my platform.
When it comes to selecting through-lines, there really is no correct answer. It comes down to branding and who you want to present yourself as. You will not be able to include everything in your personal introduction, so this method helps you narrow things down and share the most important aspects of your life.
By focusing the content of your personal introduction first, you are making the writing and editing a lot easier!
Writing Your First Draft
In general, personal introductions use the following formula…
Each arrow is a transition sentence that smoothly connects the previous section to the next one.
Write the Closing First
You can easily hit two birds with one stone by writing your closing statement first: your name and hometown.
The most common way pageant contestants include this information is through the concluding phrase, “Representing … , I am …”
Even if you don’t end up using this exact phrase, it is a great place to start. Write the phrase at the bottom of the page to remind yourself to include it or one similar to it.
Naturally, the elements and through-lines you choose should cover the fun facts and aspiration requirements, so you’ve already completed all of the required information!
Tackle the Opening
The opening of your personal introduction should hook the judges and audience and set the tone for the rest of your speech. It also determines which through-line will come first.
It is very common to use a quote as an opening. I’d encourage you to steer away from this and opt for a fun, bold statement instead. Whether you use a quote or not, this first line should directly relate to an element so you can easily transition to one your through-lines.
If you’re unsure which through-line should come first, list a few opening lines for each one and pick the one that resonates with you the most. You can also choose the most memorable, unique, or impressive one.
The Marathon of the Middle
If you haven’t already, you’ll need to rewrite your through-line elements as sentences. Remember, you are telling a story with your introduction, so it should read like one. Be sure to keep the audience and judges interested by playing around with different sentence structures.
Next, write transition sentences that connect one through-line to the next and the last through-line to the closing. You can do this by finding a common theme between the through-lines.
Transition sentences function as bridges in your personal introductions. Without them, the introduction may sound choppy and disconnected. Each through-line and transition contributes to the cohesive, greater picture that is your personal brand.
Edit and Polish Your Introduction
Read it Out
At this point, you should have a complete introduction with an opening, closing, two through-lines, and all of the required information.
Before you proceed, you should read your introduction out loud. Don’t do anything special, just read it. By hearing the introduction, you’ll easily be able to catch grammar mistakes or repetitive phrases.
If there are any repeated words too close together (ex: using “amazing” in back-to-back sentences), replace them with different, more descriptive words.
My Biggest Tip for Timing
Next, read your introduction as you would if you were on stage or in front of a panel of judges. This will most likely be slower than you read it before. You may want to take pauses and place emphasis on certain words or ideas that you want the judges to remember.
Do this two times: the first time for practice and the second time for timing. If your introduction is over or just at the time limit, I would suggest cutting it down. This will allow you to take time to speak carefully and with passion without worrying about the bell.
Here are some guidelines with some of the most common time limits in pageantry:
|Time Limit (seconds)||Recommended Introduction Length (seconds)|
By giving yourself a few extra seconds, you provide yourself with a safety net. No one’s perfect, so you might forget a phrase, stumble over your words, or hesitate on stage. You never know what could happen! If any of these things do occur, you can be sure that you will stay within the time limit.
Even if you always deliver your personal introductions smoothly, you want to be sure you have time to scan the audience, the judges, and take pauses when necessary without feeling rushed.
Deciding What to Leave Out
When editing your introduction, you may feel like every single thing in your draft is important and deserves to be mentioned. Trust me, I know this feeling. It’s impossible to fit in all of your accomplishments, goals, and activities within this time frame, and that’s okay.
If your introduction is only a few seconds above the recommended length, try cutting out filler words, details that require too much context, or a sentence that gets too specific compared to the rest of your introduction.
If your introduction is over ten seconds above the recommended length, you need to reassess your the elements in your through-lines. Are all of these ideas connected? Are they scattered or more focused?
After the editing process, make sure your introduction contains complete thoughts that make sense and help you stand out. You should be completely happy with your written introduction before memorizing or perfecting delivery.
This is the method I use to write my personal introductions at the state, national, and international levels. It’s earned me highest personal introduction scores at the national level and several state titles.
In this process, you learn more about yourself, how to organize your thoughts, and possible things to mention during interview. Introducing yourself is a vital skill in life, and I hope all of you take the time to practice doing so.