Talent Show Criteria

When hosting a talent show, it can be a challenge to develop fair judging criteria that is not entirely subjective. It is possible to do, however, by using a simple numbering system that rates factors such as performance, originality, audience response and more. This makes totaling the criteria easier and the resulting scores fairer for the participants. It's also possible to add certain criteria that mean a reduction in points as well.

Talent show criteria should be clearly defined for both the judges and participants. (Image: John Rowley/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Overall Performance

Performance is important (Image: Tracy Whiteside/iStock/Getty Images)

Set a range of possible points from 1 to 20 for overall performance. It is defined as the contestant's ability to present original material that draws a positive response from the audience with personality, originality and poise.

Audience Response

Audience reaction should be considered (Image: Jupiterimages/BananaStock/Getty Images)

Set a range of possible points from 1 to 10 for audience response. It is not based solely on the final applause after the performance, which can be popularity based. Rather, it is judged based on the ability of the contestant to draw the audience into the performance, eliciting a positive response.

Stage Appearance

Character goes a long way (Image: Sean Murphy/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Set a range of possible points from 1 to 10 for stage appearance. A performer that receives a high rating on stage appearance presents himself neatly, cleanly, in character, with confidence, personality and originality.


The more creative performer the better (Image: Terry Vine/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Set a range of possible points from 1 to 10 for originality. This can be defined as creating a piece of work that is distinctive or different from the other performers. It takes creativity, ingenuity, confidence and personality to present an original piece.


The personality of the performer should show in their performance (Image: K-King Photography Media Co. Ltd/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Set a range of possible points from 1 to 10 for personality. It is not just how much the contestant smiles during the performance. It is defined as how much the contestant puts her own heart and character into the performance.

Time Deduction

Set a range of possible point deduction from 1 to 5 for time deduction if performance exceeds the allotted time. There may need to be a buzzer to completely cut off contestants who exceed a set time limit during their performance. This can also be defined as disqualifying them from the competition.

Prepare Judges and Participants

Show judges (Image: AndreyPopov/iStock/Getty Images)

Provide judges with a tally sheet for scoring, and a brief explanation of every criteria. Provide participants with a sample tally score sheet as well as a brief explanation of every criteria. Ensure there is time for both judges and participants to ask questions about the criteria.

References & Resources