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Organising a Quiz Night

Running a quiz night can be a great fund raiser or social event and the organisation needn't be too daunting.  I've collected here a few hints and tips on organising your quiz night, as well as pointing out a few decisions you will need to make.


Advertising - it may be stating the obvious, but if nobody knows about your quiz, it'll be just you and your questions.  The more people/teams you can get along, the better the atmosphere and enjoyment levels will be.  Think about putting up posters, advertising on Facebook and in any local/parish newsletters.  Be sure to include the time and date, venue, numbers to a team and something about the style of the quiz - fun, family, music, sport etc.  If it's a fund raiser, include the good cause on the poster, some people will come simply to support the cause.


Venue - the two biggest questions here are how many people you hope to attract (and therefore the size of room required) and whether you intend to provide food and/or drink.  Doing the refreshments yourself has the large advantage of raising more money, but also significant disadvantages - if doing food, you'll need an idea of how many are coming and may therefore need to sell tickets, plus you'll need people on food preparation while you're busy asking questions.  If you're going to run a bar, are the premises licensed?  If it's a village hall type venue, it may have a limited number of temporary licences available each year and you will need to apply for one of them via your local authority.  Check whether the venue has a PA system and if it does, can it be used to play musical questions?  A solution, if not, is to take along a 'Jam Jar' type speaker, play your music through that and hold the microphone next to it.


Prizes - If you are going to use a pub for drinks, ask them to put up some prizes, most landlords will oblige if you are bringing 50+ people to their establishment.  Think about how many, and what level of prizes you wish to offer, I'd suggest 1st, 2nd and 3rd (reduced if team numbers low) plus something fun for the team in last - in the past I've offered white wine for the winners, white wine vinegar for the losers or champagne for first, shampoo for last. Bigger prizes can be tempting, but can  result in serious quizzers who are just after the prize money, and also more likely to query details about your questions.  It's also fun to offer a prize to the team with the best team name, which you may wish to announce after the half time break, possibly to a team you think unlikely to finish first or last.  It's always amazing how inventive people can be, at a recent quiz night soon after the stories in the news about whether supermarket food was prepared according to various religious beliefs, the winning team was called Halal, is it meat you're looking for?


Format - the main drivers here are your audience and how long you want the quiz to last.  I usually run a 10 round format, with 10 questions per round and this lasts approximately 2 and a half hours, including a 30 minute half time break.  Therefore 50 questions, including running through the answers, takes about an hour.  Think about the spread of questions you wish to include, generally an across the board mix is best.  Don't have a sport round AND a football round, unless you've marketed it as a sports quiz.  Music rounds are always good to mix up the experience and stop it just being your voice all evening, BUT watch out for people just using Shazam on their mobile phone to identify everything.  Connections type rounds are useful as you can cover a range of subjects within the questions and let the link pull it all together - see the Connections tab under Categories for more ideas.  If you're having a half time break ( and I recommend you do, especially if people are drinking!), it's a good idea to issue the Picture Round then as it allows people some thinking time over the break.  A variation on the Connections type round is the Missing Link round, this is where you ask 9 questions where something links the answers together, Q10 asks what that link is.  Try some out yourself on the link above, they are always very well received with a live audience.


Jokers - Issuing each team with a joker which they can then play on the round of their choice gives your quiz a tactical element.  Bear in mind that for jokers to work, all rounds need to be of equal length (if the odd round is different, you need to be clear from the start that the joker cannot be used on round X)


Cheating - it's difficult to stop somebody determined to use the internet to look up the answers.  Probably the best defence is peer pressure, suggest at the outset that everybody is out for a fun night and actively encourage them to 'shop' anybody using their mobile mid-round.  Tell them that disqualification will be the result.


Marking - There are three options here.  You can let the teams mark their own, but this is open to abuse.  An improvement is to get the teams to swap and then mark, but you will still get lots of queries and requests to give half marks.  In my view the best option is to mark them yourself, or more realistically have a marker or two helping you.  This option will provide the most consistent marking, although you will need to provide your markers with seperate crib sheets.  Any quiz rounds purchased on this site come with a seperate crib sheet for your markers.  With markers, you also need to think about how you'll collect answer sheets in, with low team numbers you may be able to walk round and gather them in.  You can also have a runner do this for you, or get one member of each team to bring them up and put them in a waiting basket - an advantage of this style is that if you have a picture round to hand out, or a special answer sheet, they can collect it at the same time.


Running Order - If teams are marking their own, you will need to follow a round of questions immediately with the answers.  If you have markers however, my preferred order is Round 1 Questions, Round 2 Questions, Round 1 Answers, Round 3 Questions, Round 2 Answers and so on.  This format has a number of advantages.  Firstly, if any team is late handing in their answer sheet, you will not have started reading out the answers, avoiding accusations of cheating.  Secondly, if there are any particularly funny answers given, your markers will have time to bring them to your attention (I find nobody minds you calling these out so long as you don't idenitfy the team involved or you may give spot prizes for these to soothe the embarassment).  Finally, reading out the answers to rounds 9 and 10 at the end gives your markers time to collate final scores and work out an order to announce results in.


Pens and Paper - As Quizmaster you need your questions and answers sheet, crib sheets and score board for your markers, plus ample supplies of answers sheets, scrap paper, pens and picture or table rounds.  It's always worth having too many answer sheets as they can always be used at your next quiz instead.  You never want to turn unexpected teams away through a lack of answer sheets!


Reading the Questions - Read each question slowly and clearly twice and then repeat any requested at the end of the round.  It is worth setting a few ground rules at the beginning, eg 'if the question is about a person, you will need to provide first name and surname unless I say otherwise', or 'It's not a spelling test, unless for a specific question I tell you the spelling is important'


Tie Breaks - If two or more teams finish level, you will need a way to separate them.  I use either a 'Nearest the Bull' type number question or a progressive list, usually the roles played by a particular actor.  Have a look at the Tie Breakers page for more details.  The tie break questions there are available free as you may realise at the end of a quiz evening that you have a tie and no tie breakers!

Recently, I've realised that only the top teams get to play on tie-breakers, so I've started asking every team to answer at the end of the half time break.  Then you can give a prize to the team that get closest, plus if you do have a tie at the end, you've already got the tie-break answers. 

Fund Raising - If the point of your quiz is to raise money for something, there are a couple of simple game you can include in the evening to boost your funds.  Stand up Bingo (sometimes called Irish Bingo, although my Galway roots say I shouldn't) involves a game of bingo in reverse.  Get a book of bingo tickets, sell one to each participant for £1 and at the start of the game everybody stands - as numbers are called, if it's on your card you sit down and you're out of the game.  When you get to 5 or so players still in, bring them to the front to increase the atmosphere. The last person standing, with no correct numbers on their card is the winner.  You'll need a bingo set to draw the numbers, or one of many free bingo calling apps available on iTunes.  An alternative, that needs no props is Heads or Tails.  Again, charge £1 entry and get everybody to stand, then as you toss a coin ask everybody to choose heads or tails by putting their hands on their head or their tail.  All those correct stay in.  Again, when you get to the last 5 or so, bring them up to the front.  In both cases, if you give half the entry back as the first prize, somebody wins a very nice prize and your fund raising gets a healthy boost.


PERSONALISATION - Finally, and most importantly, the most successful quizzes are the ones where the players and teams feel like the quiz has been written for them.  If you buy a Complete Quiz from us, I'd encourage you to swap out any questions you'd like to replace with your own favourites.  If you've got some of a quiz, we can supply individual rounds to fill out the gaps.  If you'd like a round specific to your audience, perhaps to refer to members of a local team, or even for one person's birthday, please get in touch - examples and more details are available on the Tailored page.


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