The Art of Trivia Event Sequencing, Part 1: Rounds

It’s perhaps one of the most overlooked aspects of the live trivia event, yet one of the most important. What order should the questions be asked in? If you think that it doesn’t matter, think again- the sequencing of trivia is a crucial element to ensuring a fun, well-paced event.


First off, we have the trivia “rounds – packages of questions (typically 5-10) which all fall under a broad theme: “Geography,” “US History” etc. Most events consist of multiple rounds, each with a different theme. So how do you order them? In my experience, it’s best to start broad and use the “General Knowledge” round, as this is a good way to ease people into the event and let them get a feel for the format. These questions shouldn’t be too hard, as you want people to start off on the right foot and feel “smart” by getting most questions right.

After “General Knowledge,” I find that “TV & Movie” is a good second round, as it is fun for most people – especially pop culture junkies. This is also a good opportunity to build on the good will you’ve generated following a (hopefully) well-received, high-scoring “General Knowledge” round by introducing the “nostalgia factor,” asking age-appropriate questions about shows & films from the past.


For a third round, now that the event is in full swing I like to offer something which is completely unique, and customized for the group, event or cause. For corporate events, this will usually mean a round very specific to the attendees, based on the direction of the organizer: this group loves 80s cartoons, so we’ll have an “80s Cartoons” round; another group works with numbers all day, so we’ll mix it up with a “Current Events” round. You get the idea. For pub quiz, I’ll mix up round 3 every week, just to keep things interesting and add an element of surprise; it’s also a great way to test out new “themes,” to see what flies- and what doesn’t.

Round four can be another customized round, or a special media round: music, video etc. It’s a good way to break things up after 3 rounds of question/answer, and allows people to utilize different skill sets, as well as different senses.

For round 5 (or the 2nd to last round, at least) I find that the picture round works best. Not only is it yet another different skillset requiring a different approach, but also serves as a “mini game” since you can offer bonus points; I’m a fan of asking people to identify 10 celebrities for 1 point each, but also giving 5 bonus points if they can figure out what all 10 have in common. More on this in a future post on picture rounds.

For the last round of the event, you should always heighten the stakes somehow, to give a more dramatic finish. An easy way to do this is to designate the last round the “Bonus Round,” whereby questions are harder but are worth 2 points each. Another way to intensify the action and ensure you end on a high note is with a “showdown”-style finale, where the top teams up to that point get to engage in something completely different, be it 1-on-1 questions, buzzer system etc. in order to determine the winner. There’s a million ways you could go here, but to keep things simple just increasing the point value of the last round’s questions will suffice.

The final sequence of rounds will ultimately look like this:

1) General Knowledge

2) TV/Movie

3) Customized

4) Customized/Media

5) Picture

6) Bonus

Quizmasters can of course offer trivia in any order they like. However, having produced hundreds of events and gleaned reactions from thousands of attendees, this is the round sequence which I feel is proven to deliver an entertaining, balanced & well-paced trivia event.

Do you have any suggestions for mixing things up, which would make these events go better? If so, please share in the “Leave a Reply” section below!

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