How do you scratch that trivia itch in these tough times? Host your own virtual trivia night with friends on Zoom, of course! You may not be able to get together with your trivia pals in person, but you can definitely host an awesome trivia night online. Doing your trivia thing online is definitely safe and more convenient, but there are a few ground rules to cover to make your online trivia night a breeze:
Ground Rules and Logistics
Make a No-Google Rule
In order to make your trivia night the most brain-bending it can be, make it a rule to not check Google or other search engines. Part of the thrill of trivia is to use your mind and all its imperfections. Meeting online puts that internet browser closer to your range of vision and you can bet that members may try to check it once or twice. Don’t police it or anything, just give nudging reminders…”hey! Anyone on Google?”
Mute the Mics
Zoom can be tricky when it comes to mics and audio. It can get pretty confusing when all of the mics are on. When everyone is trying to ring in for the answer, it can be hard to know who was first for lightning rounds. It’s just generally annoying. After you say the question, mute all the mics and let your group know to unmute if they need to talk. You can allot time for socializing, of course, but during question time, muting is best to avoid distractions from other people’s rooms etc.
Do One Practice Round
A practice round will assure that all players have working microphones and know how to navigate that pesky Zoom we’ve all learned to love. Start off the game by asking a practice question and then break out your players into their groups. Let them know that during the practice round they can click the “Ask For Help” button if there are any technical difficulties and you or a staff member will “zoom” right in to fix it. There will definitely be a few technical problems in the first few minutes and it’s better to solve them before the game officially begins as opposed to having to stop a few minutes in.
Now that we’ve gone over these three technical rules, there are some things you can do to take your virtual trivia nights to the next level. You’ll see that hosting virtual trivia nights are not only rewarding for the players, but the host too! In a time where socializing is at a premium, your friends will be grateful for a chance to relax and let off some steam. Now let’s get to planning:
Virtual Trivia Night Themes
Choose the Right Theme
Keep in mind that your friends will probably be sitting in their rooms, by themselves. Choose a theme that is topical and fun such as Pop Culture, Movies or Celebrities. The nature of the questions play a big part in the atmosphere of the game night, so try to veer away from Math or Physics which may bring about more of an atmosphere of competition. Keep it light, keep it fun and your guests will thank you after their long, stressful week.
If you’re looking for a great list of fun themes to try for your trivia night, check out our big list right here. And if you need a sense of what categories you can choose from, we’ve got all the trivia categories you could ever need, here.
Dress it Up!
One thing you can do to take your theme to the next level, is, as the host, dress up. For example if you are doing Harry Potter trivia, wear a big white wig and a wizard robe. You could even get your friends to dress up as well! You may feel a little silly sitting alone in your room, but rest assured your friends will all be secretly laughing at you, in a good way!
Question Your Friends
Why not turn the trivia on ourselves? Instead of reaching for the usual trivia questions, gather up fun facts about your friends. Then, get them to answer questions correctly about each other. This can bring about some interesting conversations and is a good choice for a super casual game night and can be fun to do at the end of a gruelling set of questions to lighten things up.
Try Image Based Trivia
The great thing about using Zoom or other video conferencing apps to host your trivia night is that you can display images as part of the question. Try displaying memes and asking specific questions about that meme. Or try displaying unnamed countries and getting people to guess which one it is (harder than you think!) This also works for exotic fruits, strange foods, and weird animals.
You could also display videos in Zoom that can also be part of the question. For example, play the Martin Luther King Jr. speech “I Have A Dream,” stop it at a specific place, and get everyone else to fill in the blank.
What Is Your Demographic?
Not all types of trivia suit every type of age demographic. Millennials would have more fun with 90’s themed trivia because they lived it! Boomers would appreciate Rock ‘N’ Roll trivia from the 60’s and Gen Z is more into Youtube than TV shows. Considering your demographic is a good idea if you want people to feel equally challenged as they are confident in the subject matter. A recipe for a perfect trivia night!
More Tips and Considerations
Choose a Virtual Prize!
Usually, the winning team will receive some sort of a prize, whether it’s a hand written certificate or a special trophy etc. Since your night will be completely online, you can choose virtual prizes to give to your players.
These can include gift certificates for certain online stores, a virtual certificate or even an item that has been shipped to the winner. You may even distribute Bitcoin, if that’s your thing.
Prizes aren’t essential, as bragging rights are always up for grabs, but they can really raise the stakes and light a fire underneath the players for maximum suspense! Also consider reaching out to sponsors who may be able to sponsor your night and even supply the prizes at the end.
What Are Your Social Dynamics?
The social dynamics of a trivia game actually matter greatly. Smaller groups tend to make for more speedier games, while larger groups tend to get answers more quickly because they can help each other but ultimately take longer to go through the game. If you know you have more experienced players, consider to group them with less experienced players so that you won’t have a lone group of rookies throwing signal flares in a lifeboat.
Ultimately you want everyone to have a good time, and when hosting virtual meetups the social flow can sometimes be a bit bumpy. Mics can go awry, computers can power off, and sometimes it’s hard to hear because of the static. A heavy dose of patience is especially helpful in these times. You could also ask each member to test their mics before entering the room.
Use Break-Out Rooms
Break-Out rooms are a nifty little feature that allows the host to separate everyone into separate rooms. If you have an especially large group, this can be a great way to “break out” the players into their teams while the timer ticks away. When the buzzer goes off, all you need to do is click your mouse and your players will be back in the main room, instantly!
Once in the break-out room, the players may have to manually turn their microphone and video back on so it’s a good idea to keep reminding everyone to “unmute yourself before you talk!”, otherwise you will experience the single most frustrating thing about Zoom…”can you guys hear me?”.
Order Your Questions From Easiest to Most Difficult
Unless you are playing with a group of Jeopardy alumni, chances are the people in your trivia group have different knowledge levels. That’s totally fine! Some people are more street smart than they are book smart and in order to be a trivia whiz, you actually need both of these skill sets to succeed. So, knowing this, it’s a good idea to always start off with the easiest questions first and then gradually build up to the harder ones.
This will keep everyone excited from the get-go and stave off boredom as the night progresses. “Which animal did humans evolve from?” is easy and is the type of question that everyone will have an opinion on even if they’ve never studied a hair of biology in their day. If you’re going with mostly pop culture-related questions, make sure the first few questions are about TV shows or movies that everyone knows about. We’re talking Star Wars…and Friends.
Create a COVID-Specific Category
One thing your group will definitely be able to bond over is anything and everything “COVID-related”. But please exercise your judgment about whether something like this is appropriate for your group.
Adding in a “COVID” category could make people laugh and bring the group together, but just make sure that the questions are in good taste. Go with pop culture-related questions like “What song did Gal Gadot make celebrities sing for her Coronavirus video?” Keep it fun, light and relevant but don’t go overboard. I think we’ve heard enough about this virus over the past year to last us a lifetime. 3-4 questions is plenty.
Play Music in the Background
Nothing is more awkward than a Zoom party that’s totally and completely dead silent. Just like a real trivia night, it would be a good idea to have a bit of a soundtrack for your night. Turn on a bumpin’ beat while you wait for your guests to file in, turn the music down when you read out the question and then turn it back up as your guests break-out into their groups to come up with their answer. It will give them the feeling of being at a real trivia night, with real people and a real speaker system! If only…
Plan Some Surprises
Since this is a virtual trivia night, you’re going to have to up your game a bit in order to make it exciting and memorable. A good way to keep your trivia group in a good mood and on their toes is to plan a few surprises. Have a bonus round at the end to either earn extra points or win something cool like a digital gift card.
Hell, you could even turn on a fog machine at some point to make it truly epic.
Play Some Relevant Video Clips
Once the correct answer is announced, play a short Youtube clip that has to do with the question. If it was “What color was the jacket Micheal Jackson wore in the music video for ‘Bad’,” Play a 5-second clip to show your audience that they are indeed…correct! It will also give people a break from just listening to you talk, not that you aren’t incredibly captivating on camera!
Have A Scoreboard Set Up
You can either go with a physical scoreboard made from a sheet of paper, or you can set up a virtual scoreboard that you will flash on-screen every 10 minutes or so. Not only will this mimic the scoreboards seen at actual trivia nights, it will keep the group excited and motivated to continue on.
Take A Break In The Middle
Most trivia nights will break about half way through to allow the players to top up their beers or order some food. Make sure you give your players about 10 minutes to either go to the bathroom, grab some food or socialize in the main room. Whether it’s a group of strangers you found online or a tried and true trivia group, a chance to chat will make the event feel more like a party and less like a university class. It will also give your group a chance to refuel, reset and refresh before getting back into the game.
It’s so important to stay safe, but it’s also important to maintain your social groups and have a little fun! These technical guidelines and trivia night ideas and tips will surely set you on the right track to virtual trivia night hosting success. By the end you will become both a trivia master and a Zoom master! The latter being a coveted title in these trying times. So start drafting your questions, download that Zoom app and start planning your incredible virtual trivia night!