running your quiz

The right quiz for your venue

You’ve just adopted a sure-fire way of attracting new patrons on quiet nights. If it’s done well, this could grow your intake considerably, and it’s a great way to attract a new crowd of loyal regulars.

Consistency is key

Experience has taught us that quizzes work best when they occur on the same night, at regular intervals and for the same registration fee. Essentially: you want to meet expectations every time, so being reliable and consistent with formats are essential.

Teams

Teams are, by far, more dynamic and social than individual players. As for how many people should make up a team, we suggest you impose an upper limit (8-10?) but otherwise just let the team sizes happen naturally. There are as many advantages in being in a large team as there are in being in a small one. Generally, people enter in teams of 3-6, which is ideal for prize sharing and is often sufficient to have a broad enough knowledge base to win. If you are charging for your quiz. do consider a ‘per person’ registration fee, however!

Entry Fee and Prizes

By keeping the entry fees low, you encourage more participants. Conversely, if you offer prizes that are too grand, you will be inundated by professional quizzers, which will negatively impact the chances (and morale) of your regulars.

We find that large prizes also pave the way to conflict and cheating so we recommend keeping them reasonable.

A successful quiz night will mean your bar receipts are far higher than normal and so a free entry or a minimal fee of £1 per person (perhaps more for charity and one-off events) with a prize fund of around £50 or £60 should attract a decent following. Bottles of beer or wine or food vouchers are a good alternative to cash and keep the customers coming back.

Questions

A good quiz night will feature about 50 questions. They should include everything from geography, history, celebs, music, science through to popular culture and current affairs. Throwing in a picture round in which players identify animals, locations or people, or a mash-up puzzle is always a good idea.

The ideal ratio is 20% easy and 20% difficult questions. That means everyone gets a respectable score, but even the best teams still have to work to win.

It’s a good idea to have a tie-break question available. The best format for that is a number-range question (eg the length of the song ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ by Queen).

Presentation

By starting your quiz at 8:30-9 in the evening, you should have enough time to get through 2h of questions. One-off or special events may require longer. You can opt to print out the questions, but our experience shows that having a Quizmaster host the evening keeps the audience engaged and more dynamic. The Quizmaster should read the question twice, in a voice that can be heard over the deafening crowd. After the round, it’s a good idea to circulate, repeat any questions and chat to the participants.

You may also choose to add a rollover jackpot game to cap off the evening.

Rules

The most important rule-one which will protect you from any dissonance and chaos- is that the correct answer is always the one on the Quizmaster’s sheet. Even if it’s incorrect.

Obviously, the other most important rule is that mobile phones and other devices which would invite or facilitate cheating are banned. More on that below…

Scoring

The teams are each provided with an answer sheet – usually one for each round and asked to put their team names on each. These are handed to the Quizmaster at the end of a round. Marking as you go will both allow time for people to refresh their drinks and for you to count the answers. This will also allow you to give a running total as the night progresses, which can lead to build up in competitive spirit when the scores are close. 

It has been our experience that self-marking or exchanging sheets can lead to conflict or foul-play.

Use of Mobile Phones

For some reason, there are people who feel that winning at all cost is preferable to good sportsmanship. We don’t subscribe to that notion, but we have a few ideas on how to tackle it.

The first, and likely most obvious course of action, is to announce a blanket ban on mobile phone/device use at the start of the game and state it in writing on the answer sheets.

Encourage people to report cheaters and ask the bar staff to keep an eye on suspicious activity as well.

If you do spot any transgressions, call them out in a friendly, non-confrontational way. With all eyes upon them, offenders are unlikely to try again for the duration of the evening, and it will serve as a lesson to others who may find it tempting.

You may feel it’s more appropriate to state that ‘a team’ has been caught (by staff) cheating and would they please refrain from submitting their sheet.

Alcohol will reduce inhibitions, so not naming the team may be enough to keep the situation from escalating. The vast majority of participants are there for a good time, so make them a priority, whatever happens.

You can read more on our dedicated article for protecting your quiz from cheats.

 

We hope you enjoy your Quiz Night. You’ll find everything you need to pull off a great evening here: How to be a great pub quiz master.