Top of the morning, Feb. 1, 2014

Not that they've asked for advice. But candidates who plan to participate in our primary forums Feb. 19-21 in Champaign might want to huddle with Kirsten Blackford before reaching the podium. It's clear the Miss Fisher Fair Queen knows how to work an audience.

Named "Best Interview" at last month's Miss Illinois County Fair Queen shindig, the UI senior from Rankin credits her heavy involvement in Future Farmers of America for her Oprah-like people skills. "My family can also attest that I have never been shy either," she said.

We asked the Paxton-Buckley-Loda High grad who currently is student-teaching at Tri-Point for secrets to success:

Be confident

You know what you know, and you know what you don't know. If you don't know something, DO NOT LIE!!! Explain that you do not have the answer for that question, but you will be happy to research and learn more about it.

Smile

People want to know more about you, just like you want to know more about them. Remember it takes more muscles to frown than it does to smile.

Laugh

Interviewers and your audience want to see your true personality. For me personally, I love jokes and making others laugh. It lightens the mood and creates a positive environment. Disclosure: If you normally do not tell jokes, try something else, tell a relevant story or further explain on a response. This will help you relate to your audience and will help you find some common ground between each other.

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