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How To Win A Hmong Singing Contest - Part 3


In a singing contest (and in any vocal performance), stage performance is more important than most singers realize. Growing up as a self-taught singer, I was one of those singers.

I stood in one spot.
I avoided eye contact.
I was thinking way too much.

The thing is I was only singing—not performing. So here, learn from my mistakes.


Tip #1: Your performance starts the second your name is called.

"Thov sawv daws npuaj teg rau tus ntxhais/tub uas yuav los hu ib zaj nkauj rau peb tau mloog. [Insert your name]!"

The second the audience claps, the judges will judge.

How you walk, your facial expressions, where you're looking when you step onto the stage -- these are all a part of the audience's first impression of you

So I ask you:

How do you want to walk onto the stage?
How do you want to greet the audience?
How do you want to be received?

Practice in the mirror. Record a video of you pretending to walk on a stage. Wear the shoes you're going to compete in. Have your sister be the MC & hand you the mic after she announces your name. #truestory

Are you delivering what you hope for others to receive? Trust me - It'll make a big difference.


Tip #2: Own the stage.

It took me a while to figure this out.

In the beginning, for every song, I'd simply stand center stage, never venturing off more than two feet.

In due time, I realized that when I was engaged or entertained by a favorite music artist, she used the entire stage with confidence. From left to right, she moved me from all angles of the arena. 

And so should you if you want to give a winning performance.

From every side, people are giving you their time and attention by listening and watching you. Give them something to talk about - really! Take advantage of your time on stage, and give yourself the permission to use the whole stage. 

Like in a relationship, when you get closer and connect with others, you leave an imprint on their hearts. You can do the same in your performance by owning every square footage of the stage.

NOTE: You might choose a song that would be best delivered front and center. Maybe it's more powerful that way. Think about bringing your own stool. Ask for a mic stand. To determine all of this, plan ahead on how you want the song to be delivered & why you want it that way. 


Tip # 3: Make eye contact.

Every singer has heard of looking straight at the back wall when performing. It's a great tip, especially when you're nervous. It’s better than looking down at the ground, right?

I thought so too.  

What I didn’t realize was the power of eye contact. When you look at your audience (yes...their face and their eyes), you create a deeper connection & a better experience for your audience. 

I didn’t discover the true meaning of connecting with others onstage until the summer of 2013. While performing Lub Ntsej Muag Zoo Nkauj, I unconsciously decided to look into the eyes of the front row where beautiful Hmong sisters were dancing & laughing before me.

They saw me. I saw them. And an instant connection was made.

It changed me.

Connecting with your audience through eye contact is not only a part of performing, but it LIBERATES you as a performer. They see you and love what you’re doing, so they scream even more. You realize you bring joy to people. REPEAT: You bring JOY to people! And after that, you only want to do it again and again and again. 

So, genuinely connect with your audience (and don’t forget the judges) by looking directly at them (faces and eyes). I promise, watching a Japanese horror film is lot scarier.


Tip #4: Your Introduction

Yes, you need to make an introduction.


When you first grab the mic, begin talking so that you and the sound engineer can test & adjust your mic settings before you actually have to sing. Listen for too much feedback. Make sure you can hear yourself especially now with all the noise around you.

What should you say in your introduction?

It’s not a requirement to thank the entire Hmong community. This can be uncomfortable when you need to save your voice and energy for the real purpose you're on stage.

Just be yourself. Keep it short, but long enough to test the mic. Set yourself up for success this way.


Judge's Tip

Respect your song. If it’s an original written by you, proudly state that. If not, announce the original artist’s name. And if your song is still playing after your singing part is over, do not leave the stage. Wait until your song ends completely, then close off your performance with gratitude.

Bottom Line

Capture your audience (and the judges) by using the full stage & making direct eye contact.

Hope you enjoyed Part Three of the How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest blog series. As always, feel free to leave me a comment/question and make sure to look out next week for the last part of this series!

DISCLAIMER: The How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest blog series is a collection of Pagnia Xiong's personal experience with competing and judging for Hmong singing contests. It was first published in October 2013 and has since been updated with new insights & tips. Please note this blog series is simply a guide and any action whatsoever taken based on the contents of this website or any of its related sites, materials, products or information is to be used solely at your own discretion, risk and liability.

How to Win a Hmong Singing Contest - Part 4

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