Welcome to the complete guide to organising a quiz night. Organising a quiz night is a popular event and can be a great way to engage with friends and family or to help a service business or charity. Pubs and bars host quizzes as a means of entertainment on a quiet night to boost trade. They are great at building community events and cohesion; everybody can enjoy a little bit of competitive spirit when playing a quiz.
There are four key steps to organising a quiz night:
- Select the right quiz venue
- Promote the quiz
- Choose a good format and topics for a quiz
- Run the quiz
I have lots of experience with quizzes. I previously developed a weekly quiz that took place from 6 pm every Friday in my venue. The reason for choosing this time was because the venue was generally quiet before the evening rush.
Still, we noticed they were an increasing number of professional offices nearby, and we saw an opportunity to attract an audience going for a drink after work. It turned out to be a huge success, so I’d like to share some of the knowledge I gained from that experience.
Quizzes are great for quiet nights in a venue or can work really well as part of charity fundraisers.
How does a quiz night work?
Before we get into the four steps, let’s start at the beginning, with some general points.
If this is to be a regular quiz, you need to be consistent. Make sure that people have a fantastic experience, that the questions aren’t too difficult or easy, and that you’ve got a real incentive for them to play and you’ll be sure to get people coming back regularly.
Organising your first quiz is not as hard as you might think and is something anyone can do. Quizzes usually involve attendees paying an entry fee then answering a series of questions. You will also want to divide your quiz into rounds so between 10 and 15 questions in each.
This allows for breaks where players can refresh their drinks or use the toilet.
If you plan to hold quizzes regularly, then try to keep the format consistent, same day of the week and time, same entry price, team arrangements and question structure. Doing this will help to build a loyal and steady following.
A quiz night will need a host, often the same person who also writes the questions, but this isn’t essential. The key thing to maintain is a pleasant atmosphere and correctly paced questions, and the host plays a significant role in this.
FOUR steps to running a quiz night
So, let’s look at the detail of the four key steps to go through when organising a quiz evening. This post will focus on quizzes that take place in person.
1 Selecting the right quiz venue
Perhaps you are the owner or manager of a venue with aspirations to put on a quiz night. If this is the case, skip forward to section 2. If you are looking to find a venue and run a quiz, then consider thinking about the following qualities when looking for your venue:
- Is the venue the right size? Consider how many people you might expect to attract to the event. Having a large space with only a few participants in will have a negative influence on the atmosphere. While a bustling and busy venue might seem to be a good thing, people still need to be able to sit down at a quiz. It is important to strike a balance.
- Does the venue have a sound system suitable for your event? Alongside a good host, having a good sound system is vital. You need one which enables the host to be heard clearly. Try to avoid any technical issues such as feedback or distorting through the microphone as this can be quite off-putting to customers.
- Is there a complicated venue layout that might hinder people hearing questions? Some older bar and pubs may have complicated layouts where people may not always be in the line of sight of the host. Unless the sound system broadcasts around the whole venue, the host may need to repeat some of the questions.
- Is there adequate seating and tables for the amount of people you hoped to attract? No one likes to stand; you should make sure there are enough tables and chairs for people to use.
- Can people easily access the venue on the night? For example, is there enough parking or public transport? Again, consider who your target audience is and how they will travel to and from your venue.
- Does the venue have the appropriate licenses? In the UK a premises licence is required for serving alcohol and hosting public entertainment, make sure you check your venue is covered, get professional advice if unsure.
- What equipment does the venue have? Remember that you should provide all of the equipment needed to run the quiz except any microphone and audio system that may already be in the venue. The latter is very important, and you should check that people can hear the host’s voice clearly and at a level that is appropriate for the venue. Too quiet, and people won’t be able to hear the questions but too loud, and people will feel annoyed. More on technical equipment later.
TOP TIP: Work through the above list when visiting venues to narrow down to a shortlist. If you already have a venue, consider each of the points and if you need to improve anything.
2. Promoting the quiz
As with any event, you need to plan a marketing campaign that is focused on an established target market. Doing it this way means you can spend the least amount of money but reach the most amount of people who will be interested in your event.
Who is the target audience for your quiz?
You need to consider who your target audience is. In the example I gave earlier, my quiz was very clearly aimed at professionals working in the nearby offices.
The offer was tied into the usual post-Friday work drinks habit; we also knew that they would require food halfway through the quiz, so the quiz structured around this. Knowing your target audience like this can really help to structure their experience.
Figuring out your target audience in this way is technically known as segmentation and uses demographic, geographic, psychographic and behavioural data.
These elements are structured into customer personas that represent all of the features of your ideal target audience. There is further information on the different elements of segmentation in the video below.
TOP TIP: Write down the persona of a person from your ideal target audience. It’s ok to have more than one by the way. For a quiz, I’d maybe limit this to three to avoid overcomplicating the advertising.
Choose the right advertising channels.
Choosing the right advertising channels for your marketing plan is about understanding the above target audience and then using the advertising channels that reach them the best. As with any event having a good website and social media presence can help boost your attendance.
The most popular social network is still Facebook but give some thought to who your target audience is and if any other social media networks may be appropriate.
For example, if you have identified your target audience is between the age of 25 and 34 you might want to consider using Instagram to advertise your quiz as according to Statista this is the largest group using the platform.
Try to promote any Facebook groups or pages that you have for your quiz during the quiz itself. Think about including a QR code on your quiz sheet that people can scan that encourages people to like and share your quiz page on Facebook.
Ask other local pubs with quizzes to promote your event and offer to do the same in return (as long as they don’t fall on the same day).
Below is some example of online and offline advertising channels with some example of how they might be used to promote a quiz. Clearly, you need to do some more in-depth research about your target audience before using any of these to ensure they will be effective.
These will hopefully give you some inspiration!
NOTE: A general tip for social media, you should work to engage your users with fun content rather than just repeated posts about when the quiz will take place.
|Online Advertising Channels||Offline Advertising Channels|
|Create a Facebook group for your quiz, then post engaging questions during the week before the quiz to get people interested.||Place Flyers in the venue during the weeks before the quiz. With permission, you could also put some in other bars, cafes and venue in the local area (always ask first!)|
|Instagram account to post interesting picture questions like Dingbats to encourage engagement.||Posters with a QR code link to a mini-quiz. Encourage engagement with your posters by placing a scannable code to a mini quiz they can do on their phones. Offer a prize that can only be used AT your quiz like a round of drinks.|
|Build an email list. Like now! (see below) you won’t regret it.||Make sure that posters are displayed in advance, and they are updated regularly to include information such as price pots and themes so that regulars see them and are attracted to attend.|
|Website, a useful resource to direct people to from any offline channels through QR codes. Make sure you have some nice mobile-friendly pages for them to land on.||Collect email addresses via your quiz sheets, then add them to your email list.|
|Facebook ads. If you have some budget for advertising, you might get a better return from these than the cost of printing flyers.||Reach out to local sports teams or workplaces to encourage them to enter a team. A little friendly competition is always good!|
|Use Facebook events, make sure you personalise the quiz each week.||Press releases. These can work if your quiz is a one-off, for charity or If you have some amazing prizes.|
TOP TIP: For each of the target audiences you created above, write down THREE of the top online channels you can reach them on.
TOP TIP: Consider THREE of the top offline channels where you can reach them.
Build an email list
Building an email list of your regular quiz attendees is possibly the most important thing you can do. While social networks have a part in advertising your event, you are still at the mercy of how companies like Facebook operate.
In recent years they have moved their algorithm (the programming that decides who sees what) to favour paid adverts over organic traffic. Bottom line: not everyone in your Facebook group sees the posts you put on.
The great thing about having an email list is that YOU own it. It’s never going to be subject to another business changing the rules about how they operate.
There are email marketing providers that help to design simple but effective emails that you can send out and even automate in some cases. Most are very easy to use and include drop and drag design.
We have several recommendations for email marketing providers on our resources page, many of them offer a free tier for lists below 2,000 people. Using a reputable email service also helps you adhere to data protection laws such as GDPR in the European Union.
A great way to start building your email is to create a mini-quiz on your website, then link to it via a QR code on your poster, include a leader board to encourage competition. You could use something as simple as Google Forms for this, which is completely free.
Another excellent method to build your email list is via the quiz sheets where you can ask for email addresses to join our mailing list.
Starting an email list for any event is one of the best things that you can do, and it reaches directly into someone’s mailbox rather than having to rely on social media algorithms which have become increasingly difficult.
TOP TIP: Set up a free account for an email marketing provider, see our resources page for the current recommendations
TOP TIP: Collect email address at each event, making sure you adhere to the relevant data protection rules in your locations (GDPR in the UK). Quiz answer sheets with disclaimers are an excellent way to do this.
3 Choosing a good format and topics for a quiz?
What format for a quiz?
Again, it pays to be consistent in this area. You should try to have the same number of rounds and questions each week to ensure that regulars become familiar with the format of the evening. This could include certain themes or different types of rounds, such as picture rounds.
If you write the quiz yourself, be sure to do your research, the last thing that you want is to ask a question and give the wrong answer, chances are someone in the audience will call you out, and this will devalue the entire evening!
TOP TIP: There are plenty of options online to purchase ready-made quiz packs. We’ve included some of the best on our resources page.
Most quizzes are team-based with up to 8 in a team, although you may want to stipulate a maximum number in your rules.
A quiz can take two forms, self-paced or paced. Self-paced is where you supply a quiz sheet with all of the questions printed on it already, players then fill out the answers in a time you stipulate. While this is easier to run, it doesn’t encourage as much competition and entertainment between teams.
Paced quizzes are most common and require a quiz master to host and read all of the questions out. These types of quizzes are best at getting some friendly competition going between teams. Sometimes you can include self-paced questions within rounds of paced quiz, particularly during a break.
TOP TIP: If your event is a one-off, then you should consider themes and a format that is easy to follow as everyone will be doing it for the first time.
How many rounds in the quiz?
The number of rounds and questions will depend on how long you have to do the quiz. A standard weekly quiz might be anything from 20 to 60 questions. Any more than this and it may take too long, and people will lose interest.
TOP TIP: Try to avoid making quiz rounds too long, a good rule of thumb is around ten questions. This structure allows you to have short breaks in-between and for people to buy food or drink and have any comfort breaks they need.
With any quiz, try to vary the subject of the rounds so there is some variety and people with different interests stay engaged with the questions. Popular quiz rounds include music, general knowledge, food, sport or history.
One way to make the questions interesting is to connect them to the target audience. Perhaps some questions on the history of the place they live, for example?
If writing the questions seems like a challenge, there are plenty of books and kits available on Amazon which have ready-made questions or is possible to buy and download quiz question packs from the internet. Both will help to remove the pressure of thinking up questions, particularly if you’re doing it every week. We’ve listed a few of our favourites on our resources pages.
In addition to regular rounds, you may want to consider including special rounds. This introduces some variety to the quiz and allows for a longer break in reading out the regular questions rounds. Some common examples of special rounds are:
|Picture round||Teams are given a handout with pictures and questions (about them). They self-complete the handout. Example: Name the actor/actress|
|Dingbats round||Teams have to identify common phrases from visual clues.|
|Name the song round||Teams are given some lyrics from a song and must guess the song.|
|Anagram round||Team must work out the correct word or phrase from an anagram. This can be done using a handout, as it will reduce teams asking for the spelling of the anagram.|
|Name the album cover||Handouts with just artwork on. Be sure to hide or mask any text on the image!|
4 Running the quiz event
Setting up the venue
Make sure that you arrive at the venue in good time so that you don’t feel rushed trying to set the event up. It can often make the difference if you circulate the venue reminding people there is a quiz on or you could distribute information leaflets to the tables informing people what the quiz will involve.
What equipment will I need?
A lot of the equipment you need will depend on the venue size and shape. Venues like bars tend to have their own equipment installed, which is great if you can use that. If not, then you might want to consider a portable speaker system.
You will also need a microphone of some kind. You can either go for a wireless microphone that will allow you a little more freedom to roam around the venue or a wired microphone.
You can buy a budget wireless microphone, but generally they are more expensive than a wired microphone.
Finally, you should consider a music source. It’s probably best to have some background music for the start and in-between rounds. Something like a phone with a Spotify playlist will do the trick. Depending on your location, you may need to check if the venue has the correct license in place to play recorded music. In the UK check The Music License website for more information.
TOP TIP: Check out our resources page for our key recommendations on equipment needed.
How to host a quiz?
One of the key elements of running a quiz night will be the host. The host becomes the face of your quiz; they control the pace of the evening and the all-important atmosphere. If you are confident using a microphone, then you can fulfil this role yourself. If not, you should consider someone else who is good at public speaking and who can respond and interact with the audience.
Here are tips for hosting a quiz evening
Be clear about the rules of the quiz. You will not want to leave any ambiguity in the rules, and the host’s decision should be final. Make sure you phrase questions with a source, for example, “According to Google, what is the tallest building in the UK”.
Avoid conflict at all times; be fair to every team. It is JUST a quiz after all.
When it comes to starting the quiz, make sure that you give your audience plenty of time before the first question. Take your time reading the questions and read them twice, possibly offer the audience a chance to repeat once more if they didn’t hear.
How long should a quiz be?
One of the things that you’ll need to establish with your target audience is the most suitable time to start your event. Bear in mind some audiences such as parents may be time-constrained, so bear this in mind with your start and finish time.
You should also consider how fast a pace you need for the quiz. The pace should relate to the number of rounds and questions that you have. The last thing that you want is for the event to start feeling like it is dragging, and people are clockwatching wondering when the questions will end.
Vice versa to this too short, and people will feel that they haven’t got value for money.
Top TIp: A rough suggestion would be no longer than two hours that includes breaks as you go along and includes the time required to go through the answers and award any prizes.
Pens, Pens and more Pens
You can never have enough Pens for a quiz…FACT! The tricky bit is remembering to collect them all at the end!
Again, the price you charge will come down to the target audience and how much value you think you are providing. In my experience, a quiz-goer has a very low expectation of price. You’re probably talking £1 or £2 maximum to enter.
If you are running the quiz as part of a fundraiser, you could make it clear to the audience and ask for a higher entry fee. The other way around this is to look at how you can add extra van.
Dealing with cheats
At the end of the day, a quiz is just a quiz. They’re intended as a bit of fun or entertainment. You may find that you get participants who become overly competitive or do decide some under the table phone checking for any answers that they don’t know.
Really it comes down to how strict you want to be in policing this; you may find the rest of the audience self-polices themselves.
Top Tip: If you want to have a rule about no one using their phones, then make this clear at the start of the quiz in a light-hearted but firm way.
As mentioned earlier, avoid conflicts at all times as this never ends well for either party.
Marking the answers
When the time comes to mark the quiz, you really have two options (if using traditional pen and paper)
Mark the answers yourself. This method is probably the least favourable option, it’s incredibly time-consuming, and you could open yourself up to a possible mistake. Not good if someone wins by one point!
Teams mark each other’s answers. This method involves teams marking each other’s answers. Best bet here is to provide quiz answer sheets with two columns, so everyone writes the answer twice, they then tear the answer sheet in half down the middle. One is retained while the other one passes on to be marked.
Other top quiz tips
Consider using fun technology to make the experience more engaging, like Kahoot.
Consider offering a bottle (or two) of wine on tables as part of a VIP package. This allows you to charge a premium price for those willing to pay.
Raffle off chances to win donated items or services.
Hold a silent auction using several tables with staggered closing times.
Raise funds with a craft beer tasting or wine tasting between rounds.
Have some fun contests like scavenger hunts for odd items in purses or wallets.
Conduct trivia night prize drawings between rounds.
Offer bake sale goodies for teams or individuals to buy.
Use numbered corks to hold a wine pull raffle of donated bottles.
Do games of chance such as guessing the number of marbles in a jar.
So there you have it, four steps to organising your quiz night!