How to answer controversial questions

by michellefieldllc on May 18, 2017

How to answer controversial questions+

Controversial questions are the hallmark of many onstage interview portions of several national and international pageants. Whether everyone is asked the same question or each contestant chooses a question from the judges, there will be difficult questions. No matter how well a contestant answers, there will be those questions that will hit a nerve for some people. Let’s face it, controversy sells.

Any Opinion Question Can Cause Controversy

Almost all pageant questions are going to be opinion questions. Some questions are more benign like, “what is your favorite book?” Some are more controversial like any political question. No matter how simple the question may seem, there is always the potential to offend a judge. You are not responsible for how someone interprets your answer. Everyone has their own filter of past hurts and offenses that we hear through.

Study The News

The Boy Scout motto is, “be prepared.” That is good advice for anyone preparing for a pageant. Take time to study the news on a daily basis. Many apps will give you the top stories for our nation and the world. Take a few minutes each day to read the stories. Keep a journal where you can write down the topic. After you have had time to think about the story, formulate an opinion. Write down the opinion and your supporting facts. This will help prepare you for any question the judges may have.

Acknowledge The Controversy

Begin by acknowledging that not everyone will have the same opinion. You can do this in a variety of ways. You can say something like, “I know that there are many sides to this question…” You could also state that this is your opinion and that not everyone will agree. Just don’t say that it is a “difficult” question. That conveys uncertainty to the judges.

Keep Answers In The First Person

As Americans, there is the very safe “you” that really doesn’t mean anyone specific. I hear this all the time in interview as a judge and as a coach. Avoid the generic “you”. Use “I” language instead. Keep the focus on you and that it is your opinion. This will help the judges to see that you are a strong competitor.

State your opinion with conviction

I know that many coaches advise their clients to “ride the fence” or take the middle ground when it comes to controversial questions. As a judge, I would much rather see someone with a strong opinion that is founded on facts, than hear a wishy washy answer. I respect differing opinions and I am open to disagreeing with someone.

Stay Respectful

Yes, you are stating your opinion to the controversial question, but stay respectful. Watch your nonverbal cues. Crossing your arms or frowning can be interpreted as hostility. Keep your arms relaxed and a smile on your face. Also, be aware of the tone of your voice. If you feel defensive, your voice can develop an edge. Keep your vocal chords relaxed.

Let it Go

Once you have given your answer, let it go. You have done the best you can with the time you were given. Remember, a good pageant answer is only about 30 seconds. That’s only three to five sentences. That is not enough time to really delve into any topic. You will always think of a better response after you are finished. Let it go and move on.

Remember, any question can become a controversial question. You are not responsible for how someone will interpret your answer or if they will be offended. The only person you can control is yourself. So, be prepared and take pride in your answer. After all, it is YOUR personal opinion.

Would you like to be confident in interview and onstage question? You can be with personal coaching. I have a degree in Interpersonal Communications and you can use my knowledge to be prepared for any interview question. Private coaching packages are available here–> Private Coaching Package.




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