Have you ever attended a trivia night? If you have, you know how effortless it looks to an outsider. You receive your invitation, get your team together, get to the venue, and proceed to be entertained by a host for an hour or two. All of that while you’re having food and drinks delivered to your table.
It’s all fun and games until you’re on the other side of that game, though. Being behind the scenes of a trivia night is hectic, to say the least. But fear not; people have done it before, and so can you! To make your job a little bit easier, you can break it up into steps. With a checklist, you can tackle your trivia night planning step-by-step without feeling overwhelmed by it all.
If you’re preparing a trivia night, follow our checklist. You’ll find that it’s actually not as hard as you might think!
1. Determine Your Theme
When you’re just beginning to plan your trivia night, you can take different routes. Some people like to pick the venue first, select the number of rounds, or determine the length of the game. If you have a “non-negotiable,” then you should start with that and plan all of your variables around it. And if you don’t know where to start, then start with the theme!
When you think of a theme, you might think Harry Potter, Halloween, or something else that is fairly specific. These are excellent themes and they will make the preparation process easier for you. Having a specific theme will give you ideas regarding decor, invitation design, question categories, snacks, and so on. If you’re struggling to come up with a theme, check out this page.
However, themes are not for everyone, and that’s all right. If you don’t want to focus on anything specific, your theme can be general knowledge. You don’t have to narrow it down! Call your trivia night “TGIF Trivia” if you’re doing it on a Friday, or “Throwback Thursday Trivia” if it’s being held on a Thursday. It’s as simple as selecting a general direction to go in.
Are you hosting a fundraiser or a charity event? These have relatively specific guidelines you can follow too. Visit this page to find out more about hosting a fundraiser trivia event.
2. Find a Venue or Hosting Platform
The venue is arguably one of the most important parts of your trivia night. If you’re hosting a virtual event, you need to think of the hosting platform and the software you’re going to use. Look at video chatting tools like Skype, Zoom, and Google Meet. For your trivia software, you can use TriviaHub Live or something similar. Visit this page to learn more about trivia night software. Using a trivia app can take your game night from a regular Zoom meeting to a full-blown trivia night!
If you’re hosting a live event, you need to settle on a venue pretty early on. Many things will depend on the venue, such as the number of people you can invite, the length of the game, and the decor. This might be the most difficult thing to check off, so tackle it right away.
The best (and cheapest) thing you can do is work with a local pub and host your trivia night there. Some will let you do it for free because of all the customers you will draw in. You can even establish a long-lasting relationship with them and make pub quizzes a weekly thing. If not, some will agree to split the entry fee with you. You can also benefit from the venue’s existing customer base. It might include regulars who would not say no to a night of trivia.
The venue you select may determine the type of crowd you will draw. In bigger cities, there is a trivia event happening in every neighborhood. Thus you are more likely to have visitors from your part of town. That may mean a crowd of students, workers, businessmen, or any other social group.
If you can’t find a pub to cooperate with, rent a large space somewhere else, like a conference room in a hotel. That’s not ideal because it will almost always cost you more and you won’t have access to draught beer and appetizers. But you can still make it work, as long as you have the players.
Alternatively, you can reach out to and strategize with different organizations and support groups in your city. They might be able to offer you a communal space for a night. Whatever you do, try to avoid paying rent. Rent will almost always be your largest expense, so you can save a lot by finding a free space. Unless you’re planning a chic and exclusive gala event, of course!
3. Prepare Your Questions
Now that you’ve got the venue out of the way, you can focus on the core of the trivia night—the questions! Start by identifying how long your trivia night will last. This should give you a pretty good idea of how many rounds and questions you should prepare. One hour is good for a crowd who doesn’t have much time or gets bored easily. It’s also more suitable for super niche topics, as those can get boring fast. Two hours and more might be pushing it for some, though many trivia lovers enjoy a long night of trivia.
Determine the categories based on your theme. Not all the questions have to connect to your theme; you can throw in a wild card! Another way to surprise your players is to include some visual and audio questions. If you’re going to do that, think about how you’re going to present them. You almost always want to show the question on a big screen, but you might not have access to one. If that’s the case, print out your visuals and give a copy to each team when the round begins. Naturally, audio questions require speakers.
Don’t shy away from audio and video questions. They make the game that much more fun and interactive. Listening to the host talk for an hour can get quite dull; multimedia questions are the perfect palate cleanser. Always prepare extra questions in case something goes wrong. If nothing goes wrong, and let’s hope that’s the case, you can surprise your players with one last question. Finally, don’t forget a tie breaker.
Visit this page for some free questions and answers. You can find more on the internet. If you don’t mind paying extra, you can invest in a trivia kit. We also have a handy guide to writing good trivia questions. Another solution is to hire a freelancer to write the questions for you!
4. Prepare Your Equipment
If you’re planning a virtual event, this section is referring to your trivia night software. And if you’re planning a live event, think about using trivia software too! With that out of the way, consider the hardware you will need. Most venues will already have a screen/projector with speakers and a microphone. If yours doesn’t, you can rent all the equipment you need.
Those on a really tight budget can go without equipment. Ultimately, it all depends on the number of people attending and how professional you need to be. Regardless, equipment for rent is rarely too expensive, and it’s a worthy investment for a successful pub quiz.
5. Prepare Your Answer Sheet Or Scoring Board
Now it’s time to think about how the players are going to record their answers. This directly impacts the way you will keep score. The easiest way to submit answers is the old-school way, on answer sheets. If you’re going to choose this option, you need to print enough answer sheets for everyone and give players time between rounds to fill in their answer sheets and deliver them to you.
For the more technologically advanced, there are tablets. Some trivia software apps allow players to submit their answers using their mobile devices. That’s always the case with virtual trivia, and it can be the case with live trivia too. If you’re going to choose tablets, you need to procure them for the event. You only need one per team.
The beauty of trivia software is that it will calculate all the answers automatically. It rarely needs input from the host, as the software takes care of everything.
6. Prepare Your Presentation
We touched on this point earlier. Presentation refers to the way you’re going to present your questions. Some people choose to just voice them, which concludes this point for them. We recommend you create a presentation and display it on a projector or big screen in the venue. It doesn’t need to be super fancy; just use PowerPoint or Keynote.
Trivia software is a great alternative. As you probably already noticed, it’s the whole package. Trivia software will display your questions in an appealing way and record the answers from each team. Some applications will even let you customize timers for each question/round. Whatever you do, make sure to prepare your presentation ahead of time and proofread it to avoid silly mistakes.
7. Find A Host Or Quizmaster
Now it’s time to decide who is going to host your trivia game. Hosting the game yourself is a great and easy way to cut expenses. If you feel confident in your public speaking skills, be the host! If not, then there is a wide variety of hosts available to you. Professional trivia night hosts and freelancers can take your trivia night to the next level.
Even an online event can benefit from a professional host. Some trivia night applications offer their own hosts, so that’s another thing you can cross off your list if you’re going with software. Either way, a professional quizmaster can make your night go from good to great. However, if you want to save some money, you can easily host the event yourself.
8. Advertise Your Event
You could have the greatest night planned and no one would come, simply because no one would know about it. Design an ad to attract players! Start by designing a poster that you can put up inside and outside of the bar. Put up some posters in the area of the venue, too. Make sure to find places that are poster-friendly, as sticking your posters just anywhere may be illegal.
Print is not the only channel you can employ. Use your social media platforms and the accounts of the venue to advertise the event. Already having some followers definitely helps. If you’re starting from zero, it might be smart to invest in some paid ads. Ask your friends to help you by promoting your event. Hosting an online trivia night will force you to rely solely on social media. Don’t worry; the internet is where it’s at!
Make sure to include important information in your ad, like how many people one team can have, how much a ticket costs, what the theme is, and the time and place where the event will be held. This is probably where you will finalize the ticket price. Make sure all of your expenses are covered, but don’t go too crazy. Feel out your audience and estimate how much they’ll be willing to pay. If you’re a newbie, it’s good to do some market research by attending other people’s trivia nights. You can also relate the price to the value of the prize you’ll be offering, but more on that later.
Finally, print a large banner to put up at the door of the venue on the night of the event. That will help people find the venue, and maybe you’ll even draw a bigger crowd last minute!
9. Send Out Your Invitations
The marketing did its job, and now you have players! Next, you need to send them their invitations. Invitations are a little different from your posters. In fact, they can be quite simple, but still go with the theme of the night. You can find a template on Canva, adjust it, download the PDF, and send it by email. Don’t forget to remind your attendees about the theme, address, and starting time. This is also where you give your players any special instructions.
10. Decorate Your Space
Here we get a chance to get back to the theme of the event and go a little crazy. Unleash your inner artist! This step is entirely optional; you don’t really need any special decor for a trivia night. However, many people enjoy this step the most.
Once you’ve defined your theme, it’s all smooth sailing. Purchase all the needed decorations in advance to make sure you don’t have to run to the store last minute. Decorate a few hours before the game with some time to spare. Order decorations online or make your own! Use Pinterest for inspiration. If you’re really struggling, go with the general theme. That means something spooky for Halloween and something festive for Christmas. It can apply to the general colors of the room and even snacks.
Virtual trivia doesn’t have to be boring either! Use a fun Zoom background and invite all those attending to come dressed according to the theme. It’s always good to add at least some decor to your space so it doesn’t look like an old boring pub.
11. Buy The Prizes
Right off the bat, you don’t have to have a prize, but people sure do get excited when there is one! Be as extravagant as you want; it all comes down to your budget. Vouchers are popular prizes because they are not too specific. Almost anyone can enjoy a meal in Taco Bell! However, you cannot split one meal six ways. If your prize is a voucher, make it a bit more than $20.
If you have sponsors, you can ask them to provide prizes. You can also agree with the venue to give the winning team free beers for the rest of the night or something along those lines. One way to ensure return customers is to offer the winning team a free ticket to your next event. If you’re feeling extra generous, reward the teams that got second and third places.
Virtual trivia games call for vouchers. Vouchers are great because you don’t have to get up and send anything by post; just email the winner the voucher. Cash is good too! How much you can spare really depends on you. Whatever you end up doing, it’ll be great! It’s not about the prize; it’s about the game.
If you take it step-by-step, planning a trivia night can feel like a walk in the park. Well, not exactly, but it’s definitely less overwhelming this way. We recommend you give yourself enough time to plan out every single detail of the night and avoid stressing out the night before. We’ve got plenty of reading material to help you out along the way. And once you’ve got it in the bag, check this out on how to take it to the next level!