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Elements of a Successful Trivia Night

This year PTAs and PTOs are having to get creative with their fundraising. On The Multipurpose Room podcast, our mission is to make sure you are not short on ideas you can implement immediately. In that end, we recently invited Matt Hammond, CEO and founder of Hambone’s Trivia, to share with us valuable insight on how to host a successful trivia night.

There are many elements that go into hosting a fun yet successful trivia night. Here are the main areas you should focus on when planning your event:

1. Get Organized

In terms of organization, it’s important to give the attendees exactly what they are looking for – even if they themselves don’t know it.

  • Create teams. You can ask people to sign up in teams or to sign up individually as you can divide them into teams. Teams of 5-10 people are a good target. Assign a responsible team captain for each group. The team captain will be responsible for knowing the rules and submitting the responses for the team.

  • Decide what platform you are going to use.

  • Get people excited! That may mean selecting a theme and encouraging people to dress it. It may just mean sharing the excitement on social media. All in all, high engagement by the participants is a key element in a fun-filled trivia night and plenty of promotion can ensure people are excited and ready to be engaged.

2. Make Your Trivia Interesting

Of course, trivia is the highlight of the night, and it’s important that the subject at hand is interesting. There are good trivia questions, and then there are bad trivia questions - going for the former is crucial.

It’s advisable to stay away from trivia that’s too difficult because such questions result in a lack of engagement from your participants. Remember, never make your participants feel insecure. On the same parameter are questions that are too easy, as these are just throwaways that take the fun out of the game.

The trick is to go for a question that requires reason and not recall. So, even if a participant doesn’t know the answer straight away, they can make significant progress with a couple of minutes of brainstorming with their team. (Check out our podcast episode for some examples.) It’s also important to include topics that bridge the demographic gap in terms of age and gender – that is, to include a wide variety of topics, so there’s something for everyone.


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3. Ensure You Have An Even Playing Field

Monitoring and curtailing cheating is an essential part of making sure the trivia night fun is not ruined, especially with the virtual model. A simple way to keep cheating to the minimum is to ask a series of interrelated questions, some of which can be acquired with a web search and the rest of which can’t. If a particular team gets the web search questions right but fails to answer the counter questions from the same category, it becomes apparent that they’re cheating by Google as their silent teammate. You don’t want to this out broadly as it can damper the evening. So, a good step to take in this case would be to inflate the scores of all the other teams, saving them from disadvantage but also not creating the problem of bringing up the aspect of cheating. A good host will be able to spot cheating behaviors pretty quickly and should be adept in the management of those issues.

4. Select a Dynamic Trivia Host

When selecting a host, you may choose a member of your PTA, PTO, or school community, or you may select to go with a paid professional host. With either choice, selecting the right person to act as trivia host is crucial. Here are some key questions to ask or consider in the process:

  • Prior experience. Ask to see links of their prior events to see their speaking style and the type of audience engagement they are able to generate.

  • Question examples. Ask them for examples of trivia questions they would include. Run those questions by some of your friends to see if people react positively.

  • Time and event management. Remember that this person is also the MC of the entire event. People will get frustrated and unengaged if the night goes on too long or if there aren’t appropriate breaks. Checking that the host is conscious of this is really important.

All in all, the person you finalize as trivia hosts needs to be able to make the event one that is memorable and urges people to come back year after year. The best trivia host is the one who knows how to keep the audience’s spirits high and engaged.

So, there you have it, a rundown of the key elements that make up a successful trivia night!


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