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How to Run a Spectacular School Talent Show

A school talent show is one of the easiest family fun events to pull off!

If you’ve been considering adding this popular event into your calendar of events, then read on for details on how to pull it off!

Start planning the talent show early

And when I say early, I mean E-A-R-L-Y.

Get a date for the show booked as far out as possible.

The first time I organized a talent show, I started 10 months out.

I began the planning process by meeting with the building Principal and floated the idea of doing a talent show.  

I knew she had done shows at other schools, but one hadn’t been done at this school in at least 8 years.  

She agreed to be the Emcee (because she rocks!) and she chose late January for the time frame for the talent show.  

The timing was important because I wanted her involvement and she was trying to avoid testing times.  

We also tried to avoid other big events going on in the district so families wouldn’t have schedule conflicts.  

During this first planning meeting, we decided that any child who wanted to participate could and that there would be no auditions.  

With kids this young, there isn’t a worry about something being inappropriate, so we could let this issue go a bit.  

Soon after, I applied for a permit to use the high school’s auditorium.  

The high school has an A/V crew that provides the sound and lighting needs for all performances in the auditorium.

They also provide recordings of the performances for a nominal fee.  

And the auditorium is roomy enough for anyone who would want to attend!  

Takeaway: Get the specifics asked out and nailed down early… way earlier than you think you should have to!

Need to promote your event? Check out this done-for-you- flyer!

Getting Talent Show Acts Lined Up

With your date and performers established, it’s time to start recruiting performers!

At the very first PTA meeting of the year, I gave a quick rundown of all of the family fun events for the year and made sure to specifically highlight the talent show.  

This way parents got an early introduction to the idea and could start talking with their kids about performing.

 I continued to announce it at PTO meetings in the following months and in October, sent around the first sign up sheet.  

I got 3 people to sign up doing this.  

The week before Winter Break, I sent home a flier asking for performers.  

I got 2 more performers.

Uhhhh, not great but maybe people were busy with holiday stuff and forgot to respond?

The week after we returned from break, the show was just 3 weeks away.  

If you’re doing the math, I had 5 performers at this point.  

That doesn’t make for much of a spectacular talent show…  

I figured I needed at least 10 performers to make the show a go.  

I was a little worried.

But then I figured I just needed to do more PR…  

I asked the school secretary to make announcements asking for performers.  

I also sent the same talent show flier home with all students as I had done before break.

But this time, I included a response deadline.  

That did the trick!  I got about 25 responses, a few after the deadline.  

But my deadline was pretty arbitrary, so I didn’t mind accepting late responses.  

And we were pretty close to 30 performers, which was way more than I expected to have!  


Takeaway: Include a deadline for participation responses to ensure your show is a go!

Track the details

On my flier, I asked for the following information:  

  • Name of performer
  • Talent
  • Equipment needed and
  • Estimation of performance length.  

We had kids singing, dancing, playing the piano, telling jokes, reading poetry, doing martial arts, magic tricks, a hockey skit and more.

 The wide range of performers was terrific.

And that’s really why the show ended up being so fantastic- our kids are phenomenal!

On a spreadsheet, I tracked the the info I requested plus the parent name, parent email and song title and artist name, if applicable.  

This made it easy to send email reminders to parents about practicing and and day of talent show details.

Help Your Talent Show Emcee

When I plan the next talent show (my 6th grader begged me to arrange one for his school next year!), I’ll be sure to also ask for the performer’s grade, teacher name and a fun fact the performer would like shared about them.  

This info is good for the emcee to have on hand in case of technical delays with music or equipment.  

Our emcee didn’t need this (remember, she rocks!) but it would be great to have.

Make a Talent Show Set List

The A/V guys ended up needing a set list, so I was able to quickly turn the spreadsheet into a set list with a few clicks.  

They also made a CD of all music that would be used during the show and even went as far as finding the instrumental versions of the songs the kids would be singing so that we could hear the little voices!  

This made my job a lot easier.

Takeaway: Stay organized!  Contact your A/V team and ask for their advice and support!

Rehearsals? What Rehearsals?

By the time I knew for sure the show was a go, we were within 2 weeks of the talent show.  

And with my schedule, I really didn’t have time to hold a rehearsal at a time that could accommodate schedules for 30 busy families.

So instead of having a rehearsal, I decided to ask all families to come one hour before the actual talent show.  

That way it would be only a one night commitment.  


Families did come early and we reviewed how to use a microphone (stand close, but don’t put your mouth on it!), how to enter the stage and what to do once the performance is over.

In the end, there were 23 performers and the show lasted an hour and a half.  

Because it is cold and flu season, I had several performers fall ill and were unable to perform.

The somewhat smaller amount of performers made the talent show the perfect length and was spectacular!

Takeaway: Limit the pre-talent show time commitment as much as possible for increased participation!

Night of the Show

The show began immediately following the “dress rehearsal.”  

All of the performers were seated together, in order of performance per the set list.  

One volunteer sent the kids, a few at a time, backstage to wait for their turn to perform.

I waited with the kids, helped to calm any nerves and celebrated after their fantastic performances and then sent them back out to their seats.  

I’m happy to say that out of 23 kids, we only had one little girl freeze up a little bit into her performance.  

That’s pretty good considering the young age of the kids!

I took 5 copies of the set list to the show and made sure I had a pen to mark out any last minute cancellations.  

It was an easy way to have everyone involved with the production of the show be literally on the same page!

Takeaway: Plan, plan, plan!

Consider Making the Talent Show a Fundraiser

You could easily turn the talent show into a fundraiser.  

No, not by charging people to come and watch their kid perform, silly.  

Instead, sell concessions during intermission.  

Or flowers for the performers!  

The money raised wouldn’t make it a major fundraiser, but a little extra padding and would make the event more well rounded.

Talent Show Resources

Designing attractive PTO flyers can be time consuming and frustrating.

Why not get a made-for-you template instead?

Announce your talent show in style with this fabulous two page Talent Show flyer template set!

yellow spotlight highlighting words on teal background and stage

The second page of the flyer set makes it easy to recruit performers for your talent show.

Add you customizations to the flyer for a unique result!

Next, don’t forget about a program for the talent show!

Make the task of running a school talent show even easier by using this program template to reduce your event prep time.

The template comes in both Word and Pages, making it compatible with both Macs and PCs (Note: You must have Pages or Word to use the template).

Looking for other ways to boost parent engagement?

Check out the Parent Involvement Success Kit for even more awesome strategies, ideas and fully customizable flyers, letters and event ideas.  

Everything you’ll need to recruit more members and volunteers for your PTO!

Over to you!

Has your PTO organized a school talent show?
How did it go?
What advice would you add?



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