Less is More When Hosting a Trivia Event


When people find out I host trivia events professionally, often they ask me, “what is it you do differently from other hosts?” One of the things they assume is that I talk a lot, in order to keep the event flowing nicely and to ensure a positive atmosphere. This assumption is actually correct- to a point.

People love to hear the sound of their own voices, and we quizmasters are no different; however, moderation when hosting trivia events goes a long way, just like everything else. In order to deliver high-value, high-impact trivia team building activities, corporate entertainment or branding events, the host should make a point to limit his or her “on air” time, so as not to outshine the event participants- after all, the event is for their benefit, not the emcee’s.

Below are some things to keep in mind when hosting a trivia event, to ensure that you are not inadvertently “taking over” and that the action is focused squarely on the attendees:

  • Use Humor Sparingly – This may sound counter-intuitive, as humor is perhaps the single most important item in the quizmaster’s arsenal. While it’s okay to be funny, don’t overdo it; a 2-hour trivia event is typically comprised of 40-50 questions, with 40-50 corresponding answers. A skilled & witty host can likely find something funny to say for each, but do you think people really want to sit through that? Probably not. Pick a few funny things to say each round, but no more- the humor will go over better if it’s not interminable.
  • Keep Announcements Brief – Besides reading questions, answers and standings, the host typically provides introductory remarks, a format orientation, wrap-up and awards ceremony, among other special announcements. Keep these brief; folks have a limited amount of time to socialize at these events, and if the host is talking, they have to focus their attention on you.
  • Share the Stage – At least once during the event, let someone else have the microphone. This gives the organizer, boss, sponsor, host etc. an opportunity to shine and feel valued, and also breaks things up a bit so that it doesn’t feel like it’s all you all the time.
  • Don’t Talk About Yourself – It’s easy to slip into this mode when you have a microphone in your hand and are on a roll. Chances are, however, that nobody in the room knows you; not to sound blunt, but if you’re talking about yourself, why would they care? Unless it’s a quick, appropriate plug, or a personal tie-in which is directly relevant to the group, cause or venue, keep personal anecdotes to yourself when hosting trivia parties.

Being brought in to host a trivia event is not a license to take over the room. Keep your “on air” messages fun and flowing, but don’t overdo it- the audience will appreciate it in the end.

Did you find this post useful? Are there things which you may suggest doing differently? If so, what?

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