CULTURE

How to host your own quiz night at home

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A few tips and tricks from experienced quizzers to make your quarantine quiz night a little more fun. Illustration by JL JAVIER

Metro Manila (CNN Philippines Life) — One of the things these endless lockdowns took away that we sorely miss is being able to kick back and relax after a long day of work… by gathering up seemingly useless information collecting dust in our heads and weaponizing them to achieve landslide victory during a weekly pub quiz.

It’s just not the same when you’re watching "Jeopardy" episodes on Netflix and bellowing your answers to an unresponsive television. So we did not let quarantine stop us: we got a taste of competition with actual human beings by moving our weekly trivia bouts over the world wide web.

Here are useful tips on how to successfully host an online quiz night with your buddies — and trivia nemeses.

Know your quizzers

Are you hosting for a small group of friends? Or do you want your friends to invite their friends and form teams? Knowing your participants will help you determine what kinds of questions you’ll set up, how much time you’ll need to prepare, and what online platform you’ll use.

Choose the best platform for you

There are many free platforms out there, such as Facebook Live and Google Hangouts, Skype, MS Teams, and the ubiquitous winner of 2020: Zoom. Facebook Live provides a free, wide-ranging platform, but has the downside of not being able to instantly communicate with your quizzers. If you want a more interactive quiz, try Zoom and other similar apps, which not only allow for direct contact, but also let you assign your quizzers into breakout rooms.

Based on our experience, Zoom quizzes replicate the atmosphere of being in a quiz night more closely (including being annoyed by the competing teams). Free Zoom calls, however, are limited to 40 minutes at most, so if you wish to host longer quizzes, you’ll need to pay for a premium account (or find a friend who has one).

Send out invites

Publicize the event in advance so you’ll have an idea who and how many are joining. Ensure you have a proper registration system too, attached with your invites. WikiQuiz.org provides a simple platform to both register and be used as answer sheets during quiz night itself. Alternatively, you can create your own Google Form document to sign up teams.

Come up with diverse categories. Perhaps the most challenging – and fun – part of hosting an online pub quiz is setting the questions. This is where your creativity and ingenuity will be put to the test. It’s always a good idea to first think in categories, then later build your repertoire of questions following these.

When you devise the categories, a good rule of thumb is to set a general knowledge round, a music, art or literature round, a pop culture, TV or film round, and a picture round. The diversity ensures that all your quizzers can potentially contribute answers to their teams.

And get creative with them

You might ask, “How do I develop categories?” There is no one-size-fits-all technique to this, but it might be good to start by making category titles using puns.

For example, instead of titling your food and drink round as “Food & Drink”, why not make it more interesting by calling it “Gastronomical Proportions”? This way, you can tailor the round in a way that it’s broad enough (it’s obviously about food and drink), but also quite niche (an entire round about food and drink items in superlative terms, e.g., “What’s the world’s spiciest chili variety?”, or “What’s the most widely produced food crop globally?”).

Mix up your questions

As for the questions, it’s good to have a mix of easy, slightly challenging, and extra difficult items. Quizzers generally appreciate it if they are able to confidently answer most of the queries, but also if they face ones that would keep them on their toes. Nothing’s more satisfying in a quiz when you can provide the correct answer to an otherwise obscure question. Prepare some tiebreaker questions, too, just in case.

Devise unsearchable questions

Given that this is all online, it’s imperative to try and make your questions unsearchable as much as possible. It’s standard quiz etiquette to not google the answers, but it is not possible to police potential violators via Zoom. With creativity, you can mitigate potential cheating by devising, say, picture questions instead of traditional “what-is” questions. For example, instead of asking “How long was the reign of Louis XIV as King of France?”, you can give your quizzers three labelled images of French monarchs and ask which among them reigned the longest. (But it’s totally okay to shame quiz cheaters, too.)

Be the host with the most

When everything is set, get ready to host. Make sure your slides are engaging and well-animated. If you have an audio or video round, test first if they’re audible on the other end by fixing your computer’s audio settings. Remember that your phone’s countdown timer app is that friend which will remind you to make the quiz fast-paced and thus more exciting.

Before starting the quiz, it’s a good icebreaker to check quickly on how everybody’s doing. Speak clearly. Smile. If there are multiple possible answers to a question, or if you devised some special rules for a particular category, convey these very clearly to avoid discrepancies or even conflict.

Most importantly, have fun

Remember that everyone is joining to forget the outside world even for just a short while, so don’t forget to relax.