A Guide to Running a Successful Quiz Night

By Jon T Brown

Preparation:
The key to a successful quiz night is preparation. A good quiz should always include interesting questions with popular subjects. You can either create your own quiz or buy from a reputable supplier. There are a lot of free quiz questions online, but it can take a long time to write a good quiz and make sure the answers are accurate so it may be worth buying a pre-made quiz online.

Rounds:
I find the best round to start a quiz with is a picture round. The reason for this is because it doesn’t need the quiz master to be reading out questions. They can be given out before hand to let people know the quiz has started and give the quiz master a chance check they are prepared.

If the quiz is being run in a pub picture round sheets can be given out as you go from table to table asking if people are joining – if they are take their money and give them an answer sheet and picture round.

Questions:
The questions in a quiz need to be challenging, accurate, guessable and interesting. There is no point in setting a question that everyone will know the answer to. When I write a quiz I try to make sure that most people / teams will get at least 50% correct, but I never want anyone to get 100%. I also want the answers to be guessable, so at least those taking part have a chance of getting it correct, even if they’re not sure. Another good tip for writing quiz questions is to try to keep the questions interesting. If someone doesn’t know the answer, they should want to know.

Finally – and crucially – quiz questions must be accurate! I once went to a pub quiz and there was a question along these lines: What is the name of the barrister living at No. 10 Downing Street (at the time Tony Blair was PM)? The answer given was Cherie Blair, but there was a small uproar as some teams had answered Cherie Booth – the name she used professionally. This illustrates how badly thought out questions can cause problems. If a team lost by won point because of this they would have been quite upset (after all, a pub quiz is a serious battle!)

The Quizmaster:
The quiz master must be confident to speaking to a large number of people, explaining the rules and reading the questions clearly, and it always helps to include a bit of humour and banter, especially when running a pub quiz. The quiz master’s decision should always be final, never giving in to cries of “that’s got to be worth half a mark!!”

Format:
The format of a quiz is entirely up to you, and can vary depending on the event. A pub quiz can be very different to a night in with friends. For pub quizzes, I find the best format is this:

1. Go to each table in the pub asking if they are joining the quiz and if they are charge them (I find £1 is fine) and hand them an answer sheet and picture round

2. After ten minutes or so announce (with a microphone if possible) that the quiz is about to start and explain the rules of the quiz, e.g. no cheating with mobiles!

3. When you’re ready, explain the rule for the round (e.g. answer trains have the answer to the question beginning with last letter of the previous question) and read out the questions. Read them twice

4. Allow a couple of minutes between rounds to allow teams to discuss the answers

5. After round 3 pause for ten minutes or so to take questions and allow punters to refill their glasses

6. Read out the questions to the remaining rounds, including the tiebreaker

7. At the end allow a few minutes for final checks and questions from participants before asking them to exchange answer sheets with a team sitting nearby

8. Read through the answers

9. Get each team to shout out

9. Get each team to shout out their results. I think this works better than having teams coming up to give results – it’s more fun and informal

10. Keep a note of everyone’s score before declaring the winner. If there is a tie you can use a tiebreaker question (see next tip)

A format similar can also work for social or fund raising events, but obviously for a night in it can be a lot more informal (and I wouldn’t charge your friends!)

You can get a free general knowledge questions quiz here.

Tiebreakers:
A tiebreaker question can be asked at the end of the quiz in case of (you guessed it) a tie. In a pub quiz or event with many teams I think the best way to resolve who won is to get each team to nominate a member to answer the tiebreaker. However, they must get up in front of everyone, toss a coin to see who will answer first, and then answer the questions with the help of everyone else shouting their opinion. This makes for a more entertaining end to the evening and of course, everyone gets to shout their opinion!

Prizes:
Giving out the prize can be another part of the entertainment. There are many ways to do this, from just giving them a set prize (maybe £20, or a free drink each) or encouraging them to bet the winnings. You could get them to choose their prize from three envelopes, or ask them to risk their prize money with a double or nothing bet – this can be anything from a coin toss to a Bruce Forsyth style Play Your Cards Right game.

Visit QuizPack to receive a free general knowledge questions quiz [http://www.quizpack.net/generalknowledge.html].

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