When you buy or hire a microphone, it should also come with a warning "To be used by a trained professional". Just because you have been to a few trivia nights does not mean that you can run one yourself. Last night, I experienced first hand what can occur when three powerful elements combine to produce the perfect storm of a trivia disaster.
Element One - The Sound
The sound is important. It is crucial that you have the right equipment and know how to set it up correctly so that everyone can hear clearly what is going on. The sound system needs to have enough power to amplify the voice of the host and the audio from the trivia sources. People become disengaged very quickly when they can't understand the instructions or they are unable to hear the famous quote or lyric.
Element Two - The Trivia
Most people seem to enjoy trivia and surprising their friends and themselves with the obscure and unlikely facts that are contained within their brains. But, people don't want to think and they don't want to look stupid. So the trivia must have some options such as true or false or multiple choice. Nothing seems to disengage people quicker than trivia that is too difficult, obscure or boring. Trivia rounds should have a degree of difficulty that is easy to moderate so that teams achieve success and want to continue playing. When preparing a trivia round you would hope that teams could achieve a score of around 75% correct answers. Last night our team won a trivia round with a score of 4 out of 20.
Element Three - The Host
The job of the host is to make the evening flow by welcoming the guests, introducing the teams, explaining the rules and asking the questions. It should be done in a clear and brief manner. Professional hosts seem to understand that their role is important but the night is not about them. They avoid waffle and keep things moving. Last night the host became frustrated when people were not listening (because of the poor quality sound), the people were not paying attention (because they were disengaged from the trivia) and they were talking whilst the host was talking (because the host was waffling). The Perfect Storm of a Trivia disaster occurred.
The Warning Signs
1. Guests repeatedly saying that they can't hear or understand the instructions. (alarm bells should be ringing).
2. Teams getting very low scores on the trivia rounds (time to locate the life jackets).
3. When guests approach the host and say "enough trivia, we just want to dance". At this point, it is time to man the life boats and leave the sinking ship (play dance music and end the trivia).
Alternatively, hire a company to host your event. You will be glad you did...and so will all the guests.
By Daniel Cohen
By Daniel Cohen