Writing and Delivering Trivia Questions

There’s no science to create great quizzing content.

Creating great content begins with great research, and includes fact checking, copywriting and editing, and finally proofing, not to mention testing the trivia questions on a sample group to make sure the level of difficulty is appropriate.

When you ask the question of what it takes to write compelling trivia content, the only answer that’s certain is that It is subjective. Should you hire a writer? Should you DIY? Is there a certain knack or formula to write the perfect trivia question? Like many creative endeavours, there’s no right or wrong way to write content. Compelling, engaging content is likely to improve the level of satisfaction and enjoyment at your next trivia night, and in our article we aim to give you some take away points to help you (or your team) write some great trivia questions!

While we’ve all been told by our academic friends that you should never quote or refer to Wikipedia as a reliable information source on its own, there’s no denying it is a vast store of information. Just remember that if are going to use Wikipedia, it should be used to get you started while you seek out and validate answers, to ensure you deliver concrete and credible Question and Answer packs.

Got writers block?

Enter Wikipedia random!
Simply bookmark the following URL

And continually visit/reload it. Boom! An instant page that’s totally random. We’re sure there will be a few facts or figures that you can use to form the basis of a quick Question pack.

Tip: Don’t write questions that go over everyone’s heads. You don’t really want your attendees to push themselves and rack their brains. Remember, it’s a light-hearted, fun and interactive event. The purpose of a great trivia question is that it CAN be answered! Getting this balance right is tricky. As a rule, we recommend throwing a couple of more difficult ones in here and there, in exchange for more points or perhaps side-prizes that don’t contribute to the overall tally of scores.

You want your attendees and delegates to have fun, not scratch their heads trying to recall obscure facts and get frustrated in the process. A good way to know if you’re on the right track is that the typical response after announcing an answer should be “I should have known that!” or “Oh yeah! Of course” – not “WHAT?!” or “WOULDN’T HAVE A CLUE”

Tip: Organise your questions and have a different theme per round. Teams are usually a diverse group of individuals, so if a player on one team isn’t fairing well on Geography or International Politics, they may be able to step up and shine when the 70’s and 80’s questions start rolling. Give everyone their chance to “score a few” – and remember it’s all about fun, not hard-core competitiveness.

Let’s have a look at a couple of trivia questions that polled recently in one of our live, interactive events:

“Who is the current President of the United States of America”
Answer: Donald J Trump

“What year did the GFC happen”
Answer: 2008

Are these genuine questions? Yes. Are they well written trivia questions? Not really. Why? Pretty much everybody sitting around the venue will know the answers to these questions. Hardly challenging, right?

Another one:

What is the fourth word of Shakespeare’s play “Henry V”?
Answer: Muse

And on the other hand, if you go too far, and make the answer something that’s so obscure, nobody is going to get it right. There’s still a place in your quiz for these short, easy questions – but any writer worth their salt knows that they’re padding, and should be used as “filler” questions in between the more substantial and thought provoking questions. If you find yourself sitting on too many filler questions, you can always accompany them with some humour, for example create a multiple choice question and have one of the answers “Captain Obvious” or something similar. Silly questions that get a laugh are excellent, and can be strategically placed to transition towards another round or a side-activity that is scheduled.

Make sure you are correct!

While tapAquiz goes a long way to ensuring that cheaters are stamped out, and to deter attendees from seeking answers online, if you cite an incorrect fact or answer, you can be sure that there is somebody in the audience who can and will challenge you. Make sure you never publish a question where you’re not 100% sure of the answer.

Satisfy Curiosity Instantly.

People want to know whether or not they are right immediately. They don’t wait to wait, and some people – whether they’re cheating or not, will look up answers between rounds because the curiosity is just too much.

Using tapAquiz, that’s now entirely possible! We have disrupted the standard workflow of question, question, question, with answers announced at the end of each round. It offers a fantastic app that allows hosts to run thorough Q&A’s seamlessly and effortlessly, with team scores being tallied up automatically. By the time a host reaches the end of a round, quite often the discussion, the buzz, the excitement surrounding around each question has faded. Every modern quiz night should leverage something interactive such as tapAquiz.
If all else fails… BUY IT IN!

We get it, every dollar counts, and there’s no better way to keep costs down than to do it yourself. But if you’re sitting there spending countless hours and coming up with what is at best sub par content, you’ve got to consider whether your time is better spent towards getting out there and growing your audience for your event! The thing with trivia writing is that it’s a skill everybody thinks is easy, but there’s often a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Take all of this into consideration and your event will go from being a zero to a hero. Your delegates will be sure to have a fantastic, engaging experience to remember when you run your next trivia night

Get started now at tapaquiz.com

Damien Cook

Damien Cook is cofounder and software developer at Appytizer Pty Ltd, a software development firm based in Melbourne, Australia that creates innovative web, mobile and desktop applications. Follow me on twitter [@DamienDeveloper] or [@tapAquiz]

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