Someone asked me recently, what makes the best quiz nights and up until then I had never really stopped to think about it at all. I suppose I'd just kind of done what came naturally to me and focused on what I would want from a quiz night and how I thought it should be run best. So, following on from that question I decided to list out the things that I think make my nights stand out from the others. Why do people choose to attend my nights? Obviously I can't speak for everyone that attends but a lot of these observations are from the back of comments I've always had in the past.
1. Fairness: Whether or not it's just something I am naturally aware of but I always put myself in the position of the quiz players when I am making decisions surrounding the quiz. "If I decide to do this, is it fair on the other players" and "Will this be an unpopular choice". If people don't see a quiz as fair, why should they even bother playing in the first place.
I suppose I run into this more-so when relying on technology. If anything fails at any point, teams can be at a disadvantage then start to lose faith that they are being treated fairly. I always compensate anyone who I think might be treated unfairly at a quiz.
2. Being approachable: It might seem stupid and have nothing to do with the quiz whatsoever but being a friendly approachable host is incredibly important. I always make time to chat with my regulars. If there are new teams then I will always try to have a chat with them at the end to see how they found it. There is nothing worse than walking into a bar only to see everyone is really clicky and you don't feel like you can be 'part of' whatever it is that's going on here. Make a team feel like they are welcome and they are way more likely to come back.
3. Good balance of questions: Now in a lot of peoples circumstances, this isn't with your control if you buy questions from elsewhere but if you didn't feel as though those questions were appropriate for your target audience, you would need to look into questions that would suit them. The same goes for puttin together a music round, its almost impossible to create a round that will suit everyone, some people just aren't musical people at all.
4. Crowd interaction: Without this you're pretty much just reading things off a screen / bit of paper. It doesn't really make you stand out. I'm not saying that you have to be a hilarious stand up comedian and think of witty jokes on the spot but interacting with teams, pointing out stupid answers, pointing out teams are way nerdier than they should be etc are great ways to make your teams feel like they are part of something. Whilst on this subject, I have seen instances where hosts go too far in the other direction. I've seen hosts, swear a bit too much, hosts that joke after every single question, hosts that waffle way too much in between questions, this can be off putting so it is important to get the right balance which comes with a lot of time and practice.
5. Punctuality: This goes for a lot of things, not just quizzes. People like to be able to trust that you will start and finish on time as mostly with quizzes, they are during the week and people have work the next day. Even venues like to be able to reassure people that things will start and finish on time and so this is important to them also that they aren't going to be made to look stupid. In the 5 years I've been doing quizzes professionally, I think I can count on one hand how many times I have been unintentionally late for a quiz and those will be for exceptional circumstances.
6. Regularity: Personally I think this goes without saying but then, I thought all of the above did before someone asked me the question. There really should be no reason why a quiz doesn't go ahead at all unless there are extreme circumstances, that would be for things like: family emergencies, extreme weather, huge sporting events, venue problems etc. I've had a quiz cancelled due to the snow earlier this year, that was a decision made at the last minute considering how bad it got, my wife got taken into hospital an hour before a quiz once too which was too late to cancel. Obviously this year we also have the World Cup too, it makes it too difficult to try and juggle a quiz on after and England match, depending on the venue.
Most of the time, I wouldn't consider cancelling for many other reasons. I want my quizzers to know that whatever Thursday (for example) they come down to the pub, it will be on without fail. It might not be me hosting as I may have other things on but the quiz will still be going on regardless.
7. Not taking it too seriously: By this I don't mean being relaxed about doing a good job, of course you need to apply your best efforts to make it work. What I mean is that try to make it more of a fun quiz than a serious life changing challenge. 9 out 10 quizzers (not an official statistic) will be there just to have a go and don't really care about where they finish. There are the odd occasional few (and they are usually odd) that take it really seriously and will question things, they will get annoyed at losing, they will become a lot more aggressive towards other teams. I'll be honest, I could do without these at my quizzes but I don't like to alienate anyone. Most of the time the quiz is there to win £30 worth of beer or something like that, it's never going to change anyones life. It's a couple of extra pints at best. People are far more likely to appreciate that it's a bit of fun more than making it into an examination type conditions event. There are quizzers out there that pursue that sort of thing but they are different events completely.
And there is my seven. I'll be honest, I could probably write a hell of a lot more on the way I host events but those 7 things I feel are the most important things to bear in mind. If you find anything hard to visualise with the above, I strongly suggest coming along to one of my nights to check out the way I run things. Take notes if you like. I've never claimed to be the perfect host and know all of the tricks of the trade but there is definitely something I am doing right that brings people back time and time again to play along.