Welcome to part one of the Quizrunners, How to Host a Trivia Night series. This post will be focussing on the structure of your quiz and how to come up with great categories and questions.
Before you get started with creating your quiz, you should ask yourself - what kind of format will my participants enjoy? The Quizrunners format consists of 7 categories of 10 questions per category, plus a final question and a tie breaker question. Included in the 7 categories is a picture round and an audio round. We have been using this method for over 10 years and it’s been a very successful format to date.
However, you may find you want a longer or shorter quiz, depending on what your audience prefers. If you are running your quiz at a bar, you could always ask the prospective participants which format they’d prefer. Once you establish the format of your quiz, you are ready to start coming up with categories and questions.
Choosing categories is easy for some people, and difficult for others. But don’t be too concerned; there is an endless supply of categories out there, just waiting to be tapped. To come up with ideas, take a stroll on the internet, peruse an encyclopedia, look on your bookshelf, leaf through some old textbooks and consult with friends and relatives as to what categories they’d like to see.
If you are running your quiz at a pub, you might want to ask your participants what types of categories they enjoy. One thing to keep in mind is to try to keep the categories balanced so that you don’t have too many that are in the same genre. For example, if you decide on a category such as European rivers, then you may not want to have any other geography categories in your quiz.
Your quiz might contain a mixture of categories such as:
You could also include categories that are unique and interesting such as riddles, anagrams, quotes, fill in the blanks, word games etc. The possibilities are endless!
You should try to include a picture and/or audio round if possible. Participants love those categories and you can use this round in the middle of your quiz in conjunction with a short (15 minute) break.
Some examples of picture rounds are:
...and many more - the possibilities are endless.
Once you choose the category, use your internet connected computer to search for pictures. If you’re using Google, type in what you’re looking for, such as African Mammals, and click the images tab under the search bar. Once you find a picture you want to use, just copy it by right clicking the image, clicking copy image, and then pasting it into Word or PowerPoint by right clicking and selecting the last paste option. Then you can resize the image so they can all fit on one page. Try to maintain the image quality while doing this. Repeat those steps until you have all the pictures for your quiz located on one page.
There is a bit of computer knowledge required to do this effectively. Your picture round handout should look something like the following:
Audio round categories are very popular as well. Some examples of these include:
Again, there are endless possibilities. At Quizrunners, we take 10 short clips and add them to one audio file. We add pauses of a few seconds between each clip which gives the participants some time to think. After all the clips have played once, we then play a continuous stream of the clips which they’ll hear for the second time.
You can either burn the audio files to a CD or add the audio file to a YouTube channel. If you do use a YouTube channel, you just need to click the link to play your file. If using this option, make sure your device is connected to the internet. Creating an audio round is one of the more challenging aspects of creating a quality quiz. There are a variety of audio editing programs on the internet you can choose from. If the audio rounds are proving to be too challenging to put together, don’t worry, your quiz will be just fine without an audio round.
Once you decide on a balanced set of categories, it is time to come up with 10 questions from each category. When preparing your questions, always ensure the answers are accurate. The last thing you want is people telling you the answer is wrong during a quiz. This takes away from the flow of the event, and provides an unwanted distraction. That being said, we strongly recommend checking answers from multiple sources to ensure the accuracy of all questions in the quiz.
There are many online resources you can use when researching questions. However, be careful to avoid sites where you can’t be assured of accuracy. Here’s a list of some helpful online resources you can use for writing and cross-referencing purposes.
When writing your questions, try to keep them well written and entertaining. Don’t be too succinct with your questions, but don’t be too long-winded either.
For example, here is a question that is too short and simple:
Who wrote Roll Over Beethoven?
This is much too short and basic. If you have a lot of questions like this, it makes the quiz quite boring and simplistic.
Here is an example of a question that is too long and complicated:
Which singer, songwriter, musician, and pioneer of rock and roll, who served 4 months in jail in 1979 on tax evasion charges, wrote the songs Maybellene, Nadine and Roll Over Beethoven, and established his own nightclub, Berry’s Club Bandstand, in St. Louis, Missouri?
This question is way too long. By the time the customers hear the end of the question, they can forget the first part and it can cause customers to ask you to repeat the question. This can significantly increase the length of the quiz.
Here is that same question, perfectly written:
Which rock and roll pioneer wrote the 1956 classic, Roll Over Beethoven?
Be creative, add information (but not too much), and try to strike a balance between too short and too long.
Another important thing about writing trivia questions is to ensure there are multiple levels of difficulty in each category. There should be some questions that are easy, some that are medium level and some that are at the expert level of difficulty. Too many easy questions and the customers will get bored. Too many difficult questions and the customers will get frustrated. If you want them to come back for more, you need a perfect balance.
For example, in a science category, an easy question would be:
Which German-born physicist developed the theory of relativity?
The answer, of course, is Albert Einstein, and it’s likely that a large portion of your audience will know that answer. It’s good to have a couple of those in the mix so that even the most novice trivia players can answer some of the questions, and feel like they are contributing.
A medium level question might be:
On the Periodic Table of Elements, what element is represented by the letters “Br”?
Perhaps half your audience will know the answer, which is Bromine. This puts that question at the medium level of difficulty. Medium level questions should form the bulk of the category and you should have between 4 and 6 of them.
An example of a hard question might be:
What did Wilhelm Roentgen accidentally discover in 1895?
If less than a quarter of your participants know the answer (x-rays), that question can be classified as a difficult level question. You may want to include two of those questions in each category to challenge the trivia buffs out there.
Over time, you will begin to understand which types of questions are easy, medium and difficult. As you begin to understand this, your quizzes will become more and more balanced and your audience will really benefit from that experience.
We like to have a final question for the night, that will enable teams that are a few points behind the winning team a chance to catch up by gambling a certain number of points on a single question.
We usually ask questions that have multiple answers such as “Who are the 4 presidents on Mount Rushmore?” or “Name 5 Quentin Tarantino films that Samuel L. Jackson has appeared in” or “What are the 4 most populous U.S. states?”. It's important to make it quite difficult so only a few teams will get it right.
The tiebreaker question is only used in the rare event of a tie. It should be a question that no one will know the answer to, such as - “As the crow flies, how many miles is it from Cleveland, Ohio to Paris, France?” or “How many eggs were used to make the world’s largest cupcake"? You get the idea.
Creating a quality quiz that is accurate, entertaining, challenging and complete with an audio and picture round will take at least 8 hours to put together, and may take longer if you’re just starting out. It can be a lot of fun, and very rewarding to create your own quiz from scratch, but as we all know, life can get busy, and time is often in short supply, and spending time on growing your event or business should be more important. If that is the case - don’t worry; we have you covered. You can always purchase a ready-made trivia night package from Quizrunners, which includes everything you’ll need to host a successful quiz night. With Quizrunners, you can always rest assured you are getting the highest quality trivia product…we guarantee it!
We hope you enjoyed this first part of our series on How to Host A Trivia Night. The next post is on how to keep score.
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