When one is participating in an extemporaneous speaking contest, chances are you are rightly told by your coach that there are two ways to deliver your answer – oratorical and conversational. From the Latin word oratoria meaning the art of speaking, oratorical answer has a style and finesse using big words and quoting famous people. It is delivered with confidence, with skill or even with overblown rhetoric. Conversational meanwhile traces its etymology on the Latin word conversari meaning to associate with. As such, the conversational way of answering a question means you do it in an informal way, just like doing an everyday talking.


In recent years, the conversational way of answering a question trumps the oratorical way of answering at the Miss Universe pageant. It all started when Ximena Navarrete calmly answered a question about internet control among kids. She answered with the idea intact and solid but delivered it as though she is in a coffee shop conversation. Gone are the days of quotable quotes, of interesting lines, of flowery words. Gone are the styles of India’s great and intellectual beauty queens like Sushmita Sen ([A woman] shows a man what sharing, caring and loving is all about), Manpreet Brar (If your back is bent, only then will somebody climb on it…) and Lata Dutta (Pageants like Miss Universe give us young women a platform to foray in the fields that we want to and forge ahead, be it entrepreneurship, be it the armed forces, be it politics). These days, a casual talk is needed to snag that crown.


The Lara Dutta style of answering is a bygone era 

In Miss Universe 2011 for example, Leila Lopes of Angola took the plum prize by being a conversationalist. She did not quote a great philosopher or some proverb. Instead, she talked directly from her heart and delivered it as if it was all a casual conversation. And the judges loved it and Leila became her country’s first Miss Universe.


At the Miss Universe pageant, the final questions are likely to pop out at the rehearsals. This is once a great secret that eventually several national organizations discovered. So, they hired some people who are good at Q&A and produce brilliant answers for the questions that came out at the rehearsals, feed it to the delegate and hope that she will remember it come finals night (and of course hope that she will become one of the Top 5). What happens though is that most of the answers came out as rehearsed. Way too rehearsed.


Notice that last year, Janine Tugonon’s brilliant delivery of her answer was edged out by the conversational style of Olivia Culpo. At the death of the fierce era and the birth of the sweet age, the oratorical style of answering is no longer winning. All of the Miss Universe contestants should know that a sweet conversational style is now the winning way of answering a Miss Universe question. Forget about the styles of the 80s and the 90s. The judges already knew that as a beauty queen, you are trained to memorize a lot of answers for a panoply of pageantry questions.


Thus, the only way to defeat that notion is to win over the judges with your sweet looks while answering ala-Ximena, or speak direct from the heart ala-Leila, or to be a great conversationalist ala-Olivia. Truly, it looks like that the recipe for winning the Miss Universe crown is now about sweet looks and being conversational with your answers.



Sweet and conversational – that’s the key