Answer Yourself! A blog by Sukhpreet Singh

A blog on personal development, entrepreneurship & change.

2nd September 2007

How can you avoid Miss South Carolina Teen USA debacle?

Poor preparation leads to poor performance.” Would you prepare and practice hard when you don’t need to or would you rather take your chance when the need arises? We all know the story of Lauren Caitlin Upton, Miss South Carolina Teen USA (2007), whose mangled response to a pageant question has become an internet sensation.

The question was simple -

“Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can’t locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?”
“I personally believe that US Americans are unable to do so, because, is that some people out there, in our nation, don’t have maps, and I believe that our education, such as South Africa, and the Iraq, everywhere like, such as, and I believe that they should, our education over here, in the US should help the US, or um 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.”

Do people make such mistakes? Everybody does – at parities, at work, in a group of friends … but just not on National Chanel. Is it pardonable? Sure yeah, we are all humans and she is just an 18 year old teen unable to handle the pressure. Would I ever like to be in her shoes? Oh, GOD forbid! Like her, sometime all of us are in a situation where we get ONE SHOT and there is no second take. So what do you do?

You PREPARE when you don’t need to. I want to start my own company sometime in near future and i want to be able to sell myself, my ideas and my products to clients or investors. I will be in her shoes – i will get only one shot most of the time. So how do i prepare? For starters, how about ToastMasters?

Its an international club that offers a proven way to improve your communication skills. By participating in a fun and supportive Toastmasters group, you’ll become a better speaker and leader and gain confidence to succeed in whatever path you’ve chosen in life.

My debacle like Lauren Caitlin’s:

I am a member of a local Toastmasters’ club in phoenix. During our session, the “Table Topic Master” (a role assigned to someone) can ask any random question to anyone in the audience (mostly members). So one particular day, i was asked the simplest question – “Preet, Can you share your favorite joke with us.” I was not there mentally when he called my name. By the time i reached the podium, i had blanked out. After a few seconds of silence, i could come up with only ONE joke but it was inappropriate for the audience there. My mind could not break out of the grip of the ONLY joke that poped-up but couldn’t tell. After mumbling garbage for 1 min (minimum time for which one has to speak), i went back to my seat, RED. If it was on national TV, i would have been popular than Lauren by now. Looking from another lens, thank GOD this happened. Now i am better prepared for this question and more so for such situations when i could be caught off-guard. What a perfect way of preparing and training myself in a safe environment, for some unknown time in future, at a time when i don’t need to.

So my friends, prepare when you don’t need to. Kudos to Lauren for being so brave and taking the stage. Most of us who laugh would shiver sayin’ their name in front of 20 people, let alone millions.

Update [18th Sept, 07]: Opportunity struck my door to be a comparer/Emcee in front of about 400 people on 15th Sept, 07. Find out how i performed and what i learned here.

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posted in personal-development |

" TOO OFTEN WE ENJOY THE COMFORT OF OPINION WITHOUT THE DISCOMFORT OF THOUGHT. " - JFK. Thinking is required, commenting is optional. Please leave your thoughts...

  1. 1 On September 21st, 2007, What I learned about being an Emcee. said:

    [...] helped me to take the decision, and what helped me after I took the decision? I mentioned here that you should prepare when you don’t need to so that when opportunity strikes, you are [...]

  2. 2 On June 10th, 2012, market research study said:

    Have you considered adding several social bookmarking links to these blogs. At the very least for bebo.

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