Making a Trivia Event Humorous Without Overdoing It

Having hosted over 300 trivia events over the last 5 years, I can say with relative certainty that the most important ingredient for a successful event is humor. How does humor play a role in trivia? Well for one, it allows people to enjoy themselves- who doesn’t love a good laugh- or two, or ten? Humor is also key for team building events, since that 2-hour “space” that is created  should be unlike the 40+ hours  spent in the office- which is most likely serious, stuffy & humorless.

So how do you inject humor into a trivia event? The most important factor is the host.

The person hosting the event is not just the question/answer reader, scorekeeper and clock-watcher: they are the personality of the event, and how they use their time “on air” with the microphone sets the tone for the function. Sharp wit and a keen sense of comedic timing are probably the two most important skills for being a successful trivia host. If your goal is to make sure all attendees have fun and laugh a lot (which it should be), here are some great opportunities to selectively insert humor into an event:

Orientation – Start the event off right with a (very) quick joke regarding the group, venue, weather, news etc. This lets the group know that the event will NOT be as serious as “JEAPARDY!” and that humor should be expected.

Announcing Questions – If a question itself is funny, relevant to the group or extremely timely, sneak in a quick (VERY quick) joke, or even change the inflection of your voice a bit- or laugh a little as you say it, if it’s funny. This will encourage laughter among the group as well- especially as the night goes on, and drinks have been consumed.

Announcing Answers – Don’t just read out the correct answers, read out a select few of the insanely (or deliberately) funny wrong answers teams will certainly provide. This serves not only to give the group a laugh at silly answers, but provides a public “shout-out” to the teams that wrote them, thus having a positive impact- the holy grail of team building.

Announcing Scores – Especially after the first round, when teams hear the groups’ names for the first time, really ham it up. Teams should have been provided the opportunity to create their own team names, and some (if not all) should be hysterical. Don’t rush this part at first, really let each team bask in laughter when their name is announced.

Announcing Winners – Take this opportunity to re-visit earlier laugh-moments, and make everyone laugh again (this is more of an off-the-cuff thing, and you will likely need to judge each group individually to see what they thought was most funny over the course of the event).

While there are other ways to make events funny – not least of which is writing funny trivia questions – the above are great points to throw in humor in an event. Be cautious, however, not to try and be funny ALL the time, as this will backfire; people attending a corporate team building activity ultimately want to bond and enjoy each other’s company, not listen to a trivia host crack jokes all night.

Do you think humor in a trivia event is important? What other opportunities for humor exist at these kind of events?

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