How to judge a talent show

Updated February 21, 2017

There are many things a judge needs to take into consideration when trying to pick a winner at a talent show. The talent is a major part of the overall score, but other factors also come into play such as originality, poise, mannerisms, creativity and others. The judge is given a list of criteria to use for the judging. He is asked to give each performer a score for each category. At the end, the person with the greatest overall score is the winner.

Watch and listen to the talent the person is presenting to you on stage and take in the entertainment value of the performance. If you enjoyed it, chances are others did too. You need to be completely unbiased, even if you know the person or she is famous for her performing art. Another gauge to use for judging is the audience's reaction to what she did, not in how they received her for her popularity, but their reactions as they watched her performance.

Judge the performer on her originality. She may have sung the song well, but not well enough if she did not put her own spin or flare on it. If a cookie-cutter dance accompanied the performance, there is nothing she did to stand out against her peers. However, if the song was sung well in a rendition you have never experienced then she did a good job in the originality category.

Assess how he played to the audience by observing his eye contact with the viewers as he performed. If he made the audience feel as if he were talking to each one personally, then he did a good job in engaging the viewers. Smiling while performing is an important part of audience engagement. Even if he did his act well, if he was looking off into space and showing little emotion on his face, he would not get a high score in this category.

Give her high points for mannerisms and poise if she comes on stage and moves gracefully and is vocal without hesitation. It is understandable that she will be nervous, but if she shows it her score should be lowered. Things such as playing with her hair or ringing her hands should also be grounds for score lowering.

Look carefully at the performer's attire and appearance. Depending on the type of talent contest, determine if he is dressed appropriately. If the audience is family oriented and he is dressed provocatively compared to his peers, this should lower his score. Hair and grooming are also areas to be judged. A neatly pressed costume should receive a higher score in this area than someone who has wrinkled clothes or sweat pants on.


Be open minded and enjoy judging the competition.


Applause can be a good indicator of a performance, unless the performer has a large group of friends and family in the audience. While it is helpful to take the clapping into consideration, don't use it as the sole indicator of success.

Things You'll Need

  • Pen and paper
  • List of contestants and the categories for judging
  • List of rules and scoring requirements
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About the Author

Roz Zurko is a full time freelance writer who lives in Westfield, Massachusetts. She has been writing for 22 years and is published on several internet literary sites and in The Westfield Evening News. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from The University of New Haven and Westfield State College.