Updated: Apr 22, 2020
I've been a pub quiz host for around 8 years. I got into it when I was at University, hosting quizzes at my campus bar, and have worked in many pubs across London since. But of course, unfortunately because of covid-19, all the pubs are (quite rightly) shut. This has meant I, and many other thousands of pub quiz hosts across the country, were forced to adapt our quiz hosting skills to the virtual world, and I must say we have done very well (I see you other hosts!). It's not been easy, but I've tried and tested a few methods over 20 quizzes with Social Isolation, and now seem to have gotten it just right.
Because of this, it seems I've now become known among my friends as the go to person for DIY quiz advice. In the last week I've received 5 messages similar to the following...
'Steeeeeeeeeph, I said I'd do a quiz for my family/friends/work but turns out it's really hard/I can't be bothered/have run out of time, will you help me/send me questions/wipe my bum for me too.'.
Ok, so I'm exagerating for comdeic effect, but you get the idea. While a small part of me is thinking 'well you could just come to my quiz, pal', another much bigger part of me is flattered. Thanks guys, I knew years of late nights in pubs d̶r̶i̶n̶k̶i̶n̶g̶ quizzing would pay off eventually! So below I'm going to share my wisdom on how to make a top quality quiz for your friends, family and colleagues.
1. Don't over complicate things
I've learnt the hard way that questions such as 'name as many countries beginning with the letter C' and 'name as people as you can that have won the Oscar for best actor', while fun, are a nightmare to mark. You end up spending 25 minutes at the end of the quiz marking them all, with everyone staring at you as they just want to go to bed. 1 or 2 of these questions throughout the entire quiz are ok, but have a good system in place for marking them (see next tip).
2. Have a smart method for collecting and marking answers
If you've got 5 teams or less, you can probably get by with having everyone email you the answers to each round, but if you've got anymore teams you'll want a better method. Google forms are really great and what I use as you get a spreadsheet with all the teams answers in.
There are hundreds of apps and websites that also allow you to make a quiz with the answers in, but they're not all up to the task. Some of them just let each individual team whizz through the quiz which takes away from the social aspect, and some you can only have multiple choice answers (which gets really boring, trust me!) so have a think about what will work best for your quizzes.
I also suggest you have a document with just the answers, in order, so you can mark really quickly.
3. Make sure you've double checked the answers
It's obvious, but a lot of people forget this. It's really embaressing when you get the answer to a question wrong, and if this is in front of the in laws or your boss, you might look a bit daft. So while it does take time to double and even triple check your answers and sources, if you want to look professional and smart then it's essential.
4. Make sure there is only 1 answer for the question
This might sound obvious, but it's really important, and something you need to think about when writing questions. For example 'Which actor was in Sweeney Todd and Alice In Wonderland?' well there are a lot of actors that are in both, so you could get multiple answers. If this does happen, you can always give a point to all correct answers, but it can confuse people.
5. Mix up the rounds!
No one wants 8 rounds of just questions and answers, it gets really dull. You gotta mix it up!
Audio rounds are always a good way to break up question rounds. This can either be music intros, lines from films, celebs saying something daft. Anything! Check my blog post on ways to utilise Zoom to make sure the sound quality is good!
People also love picture rounds, and you can get really creative with these! It's very easy to share these via emial or screen share on Zoom, so go wild.
Creative/challenge rounds are also a lot of fun. This can be anything from who has the deepest voice, who does the best impression of Joe Exotic (actually played this in a quiz last week) or who can get the most toilet rolls on screen. Get creative.
So there you go. Enjoy your quiz, but don't forget your old pal Steph at Social Isolation. Come back and play one of my quizzes once in a while if you can ;)