Corporate team building game show
“You do WHAT?”
If I had a dollar for every time I heard this when explaining what I do for a living, I wouldn’t have to work at all.
Yes, it’s true: my full-time job is running trivia parties and game show events for corporate and private groups. I really am a trivia team building professional, and I founded a company, TrivWorks, almost nine years ago to do exclusively that.
It’s not at all what I ever imagined I’d be doing, though. Where did I think I’d end up? Well, therein lies the rub: I had NO IDEA. When I was a kid and was asked the ubiquitous question, “what do you want to be when you grow up?” I honestly and truly didn’t know the answer. This was unfortunately still the case when I graduated college, which I can assure you wasn’t a good thing as I entered the “real world.”
Fast forward to today, however, and here I am. People always ask how I arrived here, how I got started in this, what my job is like because it’s so different from anything else they’ve ever heard of. They hold some natural assumptions about me, which I am quick to refute; without fail they are ALWAYS shocked to hear the truth.
What are some common misconceptions about me, a trivia company founder and professional corporate game show host? Let’s go through them one by one.
“You Must Be a Trivia Genius”
This is probably the one I get the most often, and it’s usually the first response from people as well when I tell them my job. They hear I produce team building game shows for corporate events and conferences, and immediately assume that I’m some sort of guru, a king of minutia. They ask if I’ve ever been on Jeopardy, if I am amazing at Trivial Pursuit or if I know everything about everything.
Sorry to disappoint you, however none of this is true.
The fact is, I’m NOT a trivia savant; in truth, I’m terrible at trivia. I realize that this comes as a shock, seeing how I, umm…FOUNDED A TRIVIA COMPANY, and it’s my LIVELIHOOD. But that’s the reality of the situation.
I’m not a “trivia guy,” and never have been.
When I look around at other similar companies (most of which are pub quiz companies, honestly – nobody has my corporate team trivia events experience) I see that virtually all were started out of a love and passion for trivia. The founder or founders were pub quiz attendees who decided to venture out, or maybe a game show winner wanted to try their hand at an entrepreneurial venture; I’ve also seen folks who just have a genuine love for crafting questions, and wanted to find a creative outlet for doing do.
Well, I’m none of those things.
I really do kind of suck at trivia, if you must know. No, for real, I do – just ask my wife. Or my former bar quiz teammates back when I was a player, not a quizmaster. I do have a great memory, but I don’t have a well of useless information lying dormant inside my cranium, just waiting for the chance to escape. I also don’t deal well with the pressure of having to recall something I think I know, or to have to guess – it reminds me too much of taking tests as a kid, and just stresses me out.
What I DO have is an uncanny knack for being able to write fun & challenging questions, to tailor experiences to specific audiences, and to lead events in a fun and engaging way. Don’t bother asking me any trivia; I’d rather produce the event or be the guy asking the questions on the microphone, thank you very much.
“You Must Love Trivia”
I’ve written much about this over the years on my blog, however my passion doesn’t lie in writing questions, or answering them for that matter. Rather, I’m what you might call an “experiences guy.” I love creating memorable moments for people. Positive, laugh-filled shared experiences, which they can reminisce about long after the event is over. I live for brightly smiling faces, belly laughs, cheers, and hearing “that was SO much fun!”
I found through my years as a bar quiz host in New York City that team trivia is a really wonderful way for bringing this out in people. Regardless of the group’s background or industry, whether they even know each other or not, it works. It really, really works – and after so many years of doing this, I have developed a quite unique expertise in just how to craft these events in order to maximize the response I wish to see.
So yeah, not a “trivia guy” – but it’s a wonderful medium for me to be who I truly am, which is an “experiences guy.”
“So You’re Like, A Game Show Host?”
Granted, there is a lot in common with what you see on TV, and the kind of corporate event game show host I am. We are both performers, we both have to keep the audience and contestants engaged, and we both need to bring a certain degree of charm, enthusiasm and humor to lighten the mood and keep the event fun.
However, that’s really where the similarities end.
When I think of the types of game show hosts you see on TV, I think “fun” – however, when I see this live in a corporate trivia event or company team building quiz show, I also think “cheesy,” “forced,” “lame” and “get me out of here.” I’m never going to be the guy wearing a big phony smile, sparkling blazer and the corny, “Let’s see what you’ve won!” voice. To me, these kind of experiences are just…sad. I know that’s not politically correct for me to say, but that’s just how I feel. Yes, they can be fun and cute, but to properly re-create the TV game show experience firsthand in a live setting takes a lot – and I mean a LOT of production value, either in the form of full set and props, an actual TV game show host making a celebrity appearance, or both.
No, what I do is more than playing the role of what I think a game show host should be, albeit in a corporate setting. I do more than just ask questions and grin – way more, in fact. This includes:
- Sales and promotion before the event
- Researching and writing the trivia questions themselves
- Providing counsel on team breakdown, room layout, and everything else
- Interacting with the entire audience from start to finish
- All forms of client service
One thing which I think truly separates what I do through TrivWorks from other live game shows for corporate events is that my experience truly is interactive event entertainment for everybody, not just a select few who are lucky enough to go up onstage. Yes, it’s fun to see three of your colleagues participate in the contest while the rest of you are sitting out in the audience, but honestly, who would watch that and NOT think, “Man, I want to play!”
Also, as the corporate trivia night emcee I see my role not as entertainer, but facilitator. It’s my job not just to keep the laughs coming, but also to keep the event moving, and to make sure that everybody – and I mean EVERYBODY – is having a great time (follow this link for another article on how as a corporate game show host I connect with the audience).
So no, I’m not just a game show host. I’m much, much more than that.
“You Must Be on the Road All the Time”
For this one, yes and no. Back when I was living in NYC and personally emceeing or producing 99% of my gigs (I moved out to Los Angeles, California two years ago), I had to be physically present at all of the events. Granted, back then just about all of my gigs were within the New York City tri-state area, and I had very few true travel gigs involving airplanes and overnight hotel stays.
However, moving out to SoCal did two things. For one, it forced me to identify and recruit other professional emcees for company trivia contests, who could run the NYC and East-coast events in my absence. It also established a truly bi-coastal presence for my company, and as such I started getting a LOT more requests for events nationwide. In the past two years, we’ve produced gigs not just in California and along the Eastern seaboard, but in new places for us as well such as Arizona, Georgia, Ohio, Illinois, Virginia, South Carolina and even Idaho. Over the coming months, we’ve got gigs on the books for Tennessee, Missouri and Colorado, and I get inquiries daily from Seattle to Miami.
Do I host all of these events myself? Am I on a plane nonstop?
The emcees I work with, they are simply phenomenal. I am INCREDIBLY selective about who I work with, but once I hire people I really do trust them to deliver a fantastic experience for ANY audience, in any part of the country. They’re all professionals, and love having the work; I’m a family man, and am just as happy to stay home with my wife and kids instead of being on the road all of the time.
Don’t get me wrong, I still do go on the road for events; for all intents and purposes, I am the lead guy for emceeing gigs in the Western half of the country. I also have clients who request that I personally emcee their function, and if it makes sense for me to do it, I will. But by and large, I’m fortunate enough to have found incredible people who I can entrust to represent both my company and me, and deliver the fantastic experience my clients expect without having to actually be there myself.
For further reading on what I am – and what I am not – visit www.trivworks.com/2015/12/professional-trivia-host-nyc/