How to Host a Trivia Night
If you have a video game fanatic in your family, then hopefully you found some value in our tips on how to host an outdoor video game tournament. While we thought that using a projector to host movie night was awesome, the video tournament – outside – gave the kids far more geek cred with their friends. That’s saying quite a bit considering their friends already thought they were cool for recording a video with Kit and Krysta from Nintendo Minute during their trip to Nintendo of America Headquarters.
If there was one complaint we had about the outdoor tournament setup and the indoor movie night, it would be that everything was a bit clunky. It took several trips to get all the equipment to the location and hooked up to an external speaker. Little did we know the compact BenQ GV1 would come along and make the process easier. With a footprint about the size of an Amazon Echo, this projector is portable AND has a built in speaker.
So did we use it to set up another event outdoors? Nope. It’s cold outside! We decided to put it to use for a trivia night fundraiser we volunteered to help with. Over the course of attending and assisting with trivia nights, we’ve outlined some things that need to be done to prepare a successful trivia night event.
Set a Date and Time
When you plan to host your event is often contingent on the availability of the location. You should have a couple available days in mind to work with when you start seeking a location. For timing, most trivia night events are exactly that… trivia NIGHT. Plan to start at 7 or 8 with doors opening an hour ahead of time for people to come in and get situated, eat and socialize.
Find a Location
You’ll want to select a venue that aligns with the reasoning behind your trivia night. Most trivia nights are offered as fundraising events for a variety of churches, charities, civic organizations and schools. If your charity has a venue (IE a church or school) then the first place to start is there. You can’t get any more affordable than a site you already have access to. If not, seek out local communities centers followed by hotel banquet rooms and small convention centers. The larger and more elaborate the facility, the more expensive it will be. If the event is being held as a fundraiser, it’s counter-intuitive to the purpose if you’re turning around and plunking a huge chunk of change on the venue rental. There are a couple main factors to consider with respect to venue: size and food requirements. First and foremost, you need a banquet-style room where everyone is able to see the presenter and the screen where the questions will be displayed. You’ll also need seating – preferably round tables. With respect to food, some venues require that you meet a particular food or bar total or the rental price is higher. Other places don’t have a limit, but don’t allow outside food or beverages. These are all things you’ll want to consider before getting quotes.
Set an Admission Price
Almost every trivia night that I’ve been to offers tables for $80 for a team of up to 8. The number of tables available is contingent on the size of the venue, of course. If food will be available for purchase, include that information with the admission pricing details so attendees can plan accordingly. If you’re serving a meal as part of the event then you’ll add additional to that fee to cover the cost of the food. Be sure to state what the prize is for the winner of trivia night. Often, the first place team will be refunded their admission price and second place will receive a refund of half of their admission. It’s worth noting that in almost every instance of a fundraising trivia night that I’ve attended, the winners have donated most or all of their winnings back to the charity. Most trivia nights also have opportunities for teams to double-down on their score or mulligan answers for an additional fee. These need to be purchased before the beginning of round 1. Each team may purchase a maximum of one “doubler” for $10 and one sheet of 10 mulligans for an additional $10.
Determine a Theme
While a theme for trivia night isn’t necessary, it sure can make it easier to decorate and formulate questions around. It can be as simple as a holiday or hobby or as elaborate as a pop culture reference of some kind.
Plan for Food
As I mentioned before, if your venue requires you meet a food bill then you’ll need to factor that into the registration costs. Keep it simple and affordable if you go that route. However, my experience is that it’s best to have the trivia night at a location where guests are able to bring their own food. Some will order pizza, others will bring finger foods, sometimes it’s as simple as chips and dip or dessert. Of course, sometimes people will opt just to have beverages. You’ll even have some who get into the theme and bring festive plates and napkins. This bring-your-own-snack option gives people that type of latitude without the price tag of a banquet-quality meal.
If you’re going to the expense of renting a hall for a trivia night, don’t forget to advertise! Find as many free locations to promote the event as possible. Some examples might be local newspaper and online “things happening” calendars, convention and visitor’s bureaus, newsletters and mailing lists for your organization and Facebook. It doesn’t cost anything to set up a Facebook event and it is one of the easiest ways for friends of the organization to spread the word. School districts sometimes also share community family-friendly events in their newsletters and on their social channels so check for that as an additional option. Reach out to local news stations to get an interview or mention during their lifestyle shows and news segments. After you’ve addressed the free options, get a quote for ads in local papers but lean on those only if it also guarantees promotion on their websites and social channels – especially if you’re a charity!
Trivia night events usually involve 10 rounds of 10 questions in 10 categories. Determine your ten categories based on the target audience of who you expect to attend. If it’s geared toward a younger crowd, creating a category on art and history might not be the best option. Likewise, if it’s geared toward an older crowd, asking about current youth trends might not be ideal. It’s best to create a diversity of categories that can and craft questions of different difficulty levels so some rounds will be easier and others more difficult. Common categories include local trivia, movies, sports, music, cartoons and history. Of course, you can always lean on trivia board games as a source for unique categories and questions, too. If you opt for this, be sure to double check that the answers are still factually correct.
Set up a Slide Show
Use a slide show program to store the questions and answers for use during the event. It’s important that you NOT let teams see another question, even in the same category, before it is time. The reason for this is because it can alter the way they answer questions. If you’re not confident with your ability to move through a slide program, consider creating a different slide show presentation for each round. First, create one slide show that shows the questions and a second that stores the questions and answers. Each question should have its own slide and be put into the slide show in the following order: Slide that says, “Round 1” then Category 1-Question 1, Category 2-Question 1, Category 3-Question 1, etc. Then add one that says “Round 2”. Then Category 1-Question 2, Category 2-Question 2, etc. You’ll create a second set of files with the answer slides inserted in-between the questions.
Set up a Portable Projector
You’ll need to have a projector to show the questions – and ultimately the answers so plan accordingly by setting up a projector and slide show presentation. Some venues have projectors available to rent or use, but it’s best to have one ahead of time where you’re able to work out any kinks. The BenQ GV1 portal projector is an excellent example. It’s small enough to toss into a tote bag and easy to move around the room since it’s cordless! If the center offers one for you to use, you can double up by using the BenQ GV1 pointed in a different direction on a different wall so attendees are able to see it easier. One of the most frustrating things about trivia night is sitting in a position at a table where you’re constantly having to shift around in your seat in order to see the questions.
The BenQ projector is easy to set up, too. As long as it’s on the same WiFi as the device it’s connected to, you’ll be able to project with it. What we discovered is that we could create a personal hotspot on our phones to connect both a laptop and the GV1 projector to each other! As an alternative, screen mirroring directly from the phone works like a charm. The quality of the projection was surprising as well. We found that unlike a lot of projectors, we were able to use a dark background and still get a great picture. My favorite part is being able to connect to my phone and broadcast all the information right from my fingertips.
Raffles and Auctions
If you’re a charity with the proper paperwork (check your local municipalities for requirements), you can sell raffle tickets to raise additional funds. You can provide a 50/50 raffle where one winner will take 50% of the money collected from 50/50 raffle tickets and/or solicit product/service donations from local vendors then sell tickets for those. If you opt to have physical prizes, one of the best options is to create a collection box for each item and let guests drop their raffle tickets into the prizes they are most interested in. If you decide to run an auction, make it a silent auction that runs during the event with “winners” being announced prior to the final round.
Create Answer Sheets
Trivia night isn’t like a game of Jeopardy where people are buzzing in with answers. They’ll each have answer sheets that will be turned in and tabulated. You’ll need one sheet for each round for each team. It’s recommended that you put these together in packets ahead of time for teams to pick up when they check in. The form is as simple as a piece of paper with the team number, round number then numbers 1-10 with spaces next to them for writing the answer.
Show Team Totals
Knowing how each team is doing compared to their opponents can play a part in some decisions that teams make (IE when to double or mulligan). If the venue has dry erase boards or you have access to a large portable one, you’ll want to create a grid with the round totals and running totals for the teams. As an alternative, you can create a poster board for it, but those are often too small for teams to see from afar. If the venue has a projector to use for the questions, you can opt to use the GV1 portable projector to alternate between displaying team totals and questions!
Find an Emcee and Volunteers
You’ll need someone to read the questions out loud, read raffle numbers and make announcements. Find someone who is comfortable at a microphone and preferably someone who can multi-task with the slide show presentation. It takes volunteers to run any event successfully. Trivia Night will run more smoothly if you have runners who are grabbing the forms as teams are done, extra eyes to check answers each round and update the scoreboard. While people need a few minutes here and there for a restroom break and to socialize, they don’t want too much down time. 10 rounds can take a really long time if you’re taking forever for the questions and calculating the answers each round.
If you follow these tips, you should be well on your way to hosting a successful trivia night! If you’re interested in a portable projector for work or play, you can purchase a BenQ GV1 projector on Amazon. From now until December 27, 2019, use coupon code “100OffGV1” to save $100 on your purchase! You can learn more about BenQ by visiting their website or checking them some of our other uses for BenQ products.
What do you love most about attending a trivia night fundraiser?
28 thoughts on “How to Host a Trivia Night”
As someone who’s attended but never hosted, I never really understood just how much planning, coordination and effort goes into a night like this. I guess that’s a nod to those who’ve planned the ones I attended as they went off without issue.
That’s so very true, Karen. Most that I’ve attended have been smooth sailing with no hiccups and I never really thought about how many moving pieces there are!
Sounds like a great idea, but I dont like people
haha very relatable!
Wow this is quite the planning. Kudos to those who make all this possible
This is some great info and sounds like a lot of fun.
This sounds so fun! I’ve never attended a trivia night before.
The only one I ever did was at a wing joint, so….the food!
Don’t forget to get a box of pencils.
Lots of good information here. I had no idea so much prep was involved.
Really fun and interesting ideas!
My family tradition is hosting trivia and game nights on New Year’s Eve. I love this and it brings back many happy memories.
These are great tips! We have local trivia that always supports a new charity each week and I’ve always thought it is a great way to get people together for a good cause
Who knew there was so much behind the curtain?!
Good idea but I would this with just family, charge a fun “admission” charge
What a great idea! This would be great for a fundraising event!
Wow, I’m really introverted, so I don’t see this happening any time soon.
Looks Fun – Lot of work.
Great idea for folks with the extra available time to plan and carry it out! It’s just not for me, but thanks for sharing.
Thanks for all the good ideas.
My husband and I love trivia games, but we’ve never actually attended a trivia night / event. This article definitely helps us understand what to watch for to find a good one!
It’s finally a time to put my useless knowledge to use. A trivia night is about the only time movie, music, and obscure pop culture makes you a rock star
This is a great idea and sounds like fun!
Nice to see all the steps laid out, but I would never charge for entry.
Thanks for all the great information for planning a fun trivia night.
While I don’t think I’ll be hosting my own trivia night any time soon, I’d really like to attend one at some point in the future, especially given how much I love trivia. I just hope I can find one by me to go to.