What Makes a Good Quiz?

The hard work has been done, you have found a venue for the quiz, planned it, organised it and put word out that there is quiz night. The most important factor remains….the quality of the quiz. I have travelled around the nation playing in pub quizzes and the difference in quality is staggering. From the sublime, to the ridiculous, to the mundane to the plain wrong. You could attend 7 different quiz nights in any given week and have a totally different experience every time. So what makes a good pub quiz?

First and foremost the quiz needs to be well organised. If you promise to start at 8pm, start at 8pm otherwise customers will feel duped. Bring pends, papers and more answer sheets than needed. Countless times I have been in a pub quiz where we have to share picture sheets and ask other teams for a pen…..A bad start in any situation.

Pitching the level of your quiz is also hard. If you are new to being quizmaster or new to a venue it may take a few weeks to get going. Don’t just set questions and then ignore the responses….have a look at answer sheets, mark them yourself so you can see how well your quiz is going down and whether its too hard or too easy. It is not going to be very satisfying if your winning team score only 50% of answers, nor is it going to be much fun if every team scores 100%, you need a fine balance and need to use your experience, and knowledge of your regular teams, to ensure you have a nice spread so the better teams are challenged and the weaker teams don’t score too low.

There are two types of rounds in your quiz that can make or break it….Pictures and Music. Let’s start with Music. It is very easy to put together a music round in this day and age. Plug your phone into the sound system of your local pub, select  some tracks and get people to identify them. Easy right? But this is not going to satisfy all. Everyone has different tastes in music and hence your music round needs to reflect this. There is nothing worse than a middle aged man played 10 70s rock tunes to identify to a room full of 20 somethings. Get yourself online, look at current charts, charts form 10 years ago and pick a nice selection. One quizmistress I experienced does two music rounds….one from 1960-1980 the other from 1981-present day and as players only your highest score counts. A good idea but prolongs the night a little.

The picture round needs to be short and sweet. A local quiz I attend has a picture round of 25 pictures and only 50 GK questions meaning the pictures are worth 33% of all scores. This puts smaller teams at a disadvantage and disgruntles players who are there for the test of trivia. Yes, the picture round can be useful to level out scores but 10 questions is enough. Make sure the pictures are people your punters are likely to have seen….whether it be in news, sports or famous figures. Cover all ages…something for any under 20s who may be there and something for the older audience as well as all those in between. Manage it well and you can have a fantastic picture round at your disposal.

What about the quiz questions themselves….the crux of the quiz? I will start by saying the same, age old comment you will have heard time and time again. The questions need to be interesting. If the player doesn’t know the answer they should be able to have a sensible guess and know the answer when they hear it. If you get grunts of dismay, or sighs, when you read out your answers , then you know you haven’t quite got it right. Obscure facts, guessing questions, true and false questions…never popular. Once you get in the swing of things writing good questions will become a doddle but unless you listen to your audience and learn from your mistakes, you will never run a good pub quiz. Write your own trivia……if you print off questions by the masses from online sources, your players will leave in masses. There is nothing better than a home produced, fun and original quiz. There is nothing worse than a chestnut-packed bore triviathon.

Also mix it up….avoid just 50 simple questions on GK. Add themed rounds, connections, wipe-out rounds. Essentially you will still be asking 50 trivia questions but the players will feel more variety and hence more satisfaction.

Finally, make sure you are right…check your answers. Double check. Get together with another local quizmaster and double check each others works. There will always be a smart-alec in the audience thinking you are wrong so make sure you are able to answer queries. Make sure you understand what you are asking….I hate the quizmaster who, when questioned, claims “It’s what is written here”.

One question I often get asked….do you give weaker teams help? My answer is no. After a few weeks in a given pub you should be producing a quiz which is fun and involving and the weaker teams will feel happy because of this. There is nothing worse than seeing a quizmaster tour the tables at the end of the quiz offering help.

Add the above ingredients…keep it organised…keep it running smoothly and keep it fair and you will have on your hands a successful quiz night!

Good luck!

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