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Elements of a Successful School Trivia Night

Updated: May 26, 2023

This year PTAs and PTOs are having to get creative with their fundraising. On The Multipurpose Room podcast, we aim to ensure you are not short on ideas you can implement immediately. We recently invited Matt Hammond, CEO and founder of Hambone’s Trivia, to share valuable insight on hosting a successful school trivia night.

Many elements 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, giving the attendees exactly what they are looking for is important – even if they don’t know it.

  • Create teams. You can ask people to sign up in teams or 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. Overall, 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 avoid 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 too-easy questions, 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 participants don’t know the answer, 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 age and gender – including a wide variety of topics so there’s something for everyone.

Trivia night sign
Trivia Night

Source: (1D9aRAjKtGA)

3. Ensure You Have An Even Playing Field

Monitoring and curtailing cheating is essential to ensuring 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, in this case, would be to inflate the scores of all the other teams, saving them from a disadvantage but not creating the problem of bringing up the aspect of cheating. A good host can spot cheating behaviors quickly and should be adept at managing 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. Selecting the right person to act as a trivia host is crucial with either choice. Here are some key questions to ask or consider in the process:

  • Prior experience. Ask to see links to their prior events to see their speaking style and the type of audience engagement they can 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 there aren’t appropriate breaks. Checking that the host is conscious of this is important.

All in all, the person you finalize as trivia host needs to be able to make the event memorable and urge people to come back year after year. The best trivia host 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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