Quiz Starting Tips

Here we give tips how to run a successful quiz

Tips and advice from professional quizmasters.....

Here we give important tips how to make your quiz night a success. Be it a one-off special event or a regular quiz night over a period of time.

PREPARATION “You cannot plan too far in advance”

You first have to arrange the date of which to hold the quiz. If It’s going to be a one-off event then it obviously is a lot easier to plan. You have approached the venue and booked in the date.

However, if it is to be a regular event then a little more preparation is needed.Look at the nearest regular quiz nights, established quizzes are hard to compete against. Locals become accustomed to their regular quiz format and do not like change.True, if the quiz night isn’t very good then you may in time become more popular and attract a following. This takes time and you venue needs to play a waiting game. Most quizzes take 2 – 3 months to ‘establish’ themselves and it can take a long time to create a busy and popular quiz. Therefore, it makes sense to hold your quiz on a night that doesn’t clash with it’s rivals.

Decide on what prizes you are going to give away and how the quiz finances will operate.Is it ‘winner takes all’ or a percentage. All these things need to be agreed on with venue and yourself in advance so they can be advertised beforehand.

Above all – don’t give up!

EQUIPMENT “You only get what you pay for”

If your pub or venue has a PA system then your off to a winner. The microphone is sufficient  to get the questions over but remember that your vocal skills will be tested (see ON THE NIGHT below). If you are going to supply all the equipment yourself,then you most certainly will need the following –

  • MICROPHONE
  • MIXER
  • PLAYER (if music is to be used)
  • SPEAKERS (powered have built-in amps)
  • AMPLIFIER (if speakers are unpowered)
  • PORTABLE PA SYSTEMS
  • ALL LEADS (to connect the above)
  • POWER SOCKET NEARBY
  • QUIZ FORMS
  • PRIZES

We won’t insult your intelligence and say that questions and answers are also needed!

1.MICROPHONE

Any decent microphone will be suffice but remember you only get what you pay for. A cheap plastic mic can be bought from most places and you really should avoid these like the plague. Expect to pay £50 upwards for a decent standard one.

RADIO MICROPHONES

If you plan to walk around the quiz venue during the evening then the radio mic is what you need and expect to pay £300+ for a good one. This type of mic will most certainly require a battery and you need to have it switched off on the mic when not in use to prolong it’s life and also make sure you carry a spare. Just make sure you ‘fine tune’ it beforehand with it’s receiver and DO NOT stand in front of a speaker when you are using it. Feedback is not a pretty sound on the eardrum!

Do I go for VHF or UHF and what is the difference?

VHF = Very High Frequency (VHF = Lower Quality – More Range)
UHF = Ultra High Frequency (UHF = Better Quality – Less Range)

The VHF channel has a lower quality because it is very crowded, you may have heard stories where a taxi came through over the PA System, and this is no joke! It is possible as they run on the same frequencies, but generally speaking it is quite rare to get constant interference. UHF on the other hand runs on a less crowded Frequency and therefore has little to no interference. UHF Microphones have a larger range of channels to run on also, so dependent on which model you choose UHF Microphones can work with up to 16 units at once on some of the high end Trantec Systems. The UHF Systems though normally have a minimum of 2 dedicated channels, while other have the option of 4 channels, and moving further up the price scale some system are capable of 256 channel selection, giving you a very wide Frequency range to select from to minimize interference.

In our opinion that is the main difference is VHF are restricted to crowded channels, whereby the UHF is more flexible.

For Bar or Pub work , a VHF System would suit the application fine. Many pubs are unlikely to have another pub right next door, unless it is a town centre, so a VHF mic would be the practical choice to avoid the unnecessary cost of a UHF model.

Some microphones come with a lead but most do not. Make sure the lead that it will connect to your mixer has the correct connection. There are several different options on the market and it is always best to ask the shop whilst making your purchase. They will only be too glad to help you in any way. For microphone techniques – see ON THE NIGHT below.

2.MIXER

A decent mixer is essential. Those controls and knobs will let you adjust music imperfections,adjust your microphone and will let you increase/decrease the volume in one easy operation. Mixers can be purchased in mounted-box units which will protect it being transported and in use – a must if you are lugging it around. Put the mixer in an easy accessible place to you whilst you are compering. If you are using a media player to play music through the mixer then see PLAYER below.

3.PLAYER

If you require music during the night then you will need some form of player attached to the mixer. This can range from a simple phone,tablet or laptop, to a CD player or turntable console. It’s really about what you want.Some will need a special suppressor to limit the interference ‘hum’ that you get from some players.Even some smart-phones can interfere with powered speakers near them!

4.SPEAKERS

Some speakers are fitted with top hats as standard so you can mount them on tripod stands. These will need to be purchased separately and should be avoided in crowded bars as they need a lot of space to be safely used.The last thing you want is some drunk knocking your speaker onto a person nearby!

UNPOWERED (Passive speakers require a traditional amplifier to run them.)

POWERED -There are some really good speakers out there that can easily cope with doing you quiz night.Make sure they are small enough that you can easily hide them around the room. They will need to be by a power socket but otherwise, with a long enough lead can be put anywhere – even on the bar. They will have all the controls on the back and so you can turn the volume up or down independently.The lead needs to be run to your mixer in a way not to be tripped over. For that reason it is advisable to run it above head height.

5.AMPLIFIER

The efficiency of a loudspeaker depends on its size and rated power. A speaker rated at 100 Watts RMS will be less efficient at converting power into sound than a speaker rated at 50 Watts RMS. So, if you have an amplifier which produces a maximum output power of 30 Watts RMS, will you get higher sound volume from the 50 Watt speaker or the 100 Watt speaker? You’ll get higher volume from the 50 Watt speaker because it is more efficient than the 100 Watt speaker. The 100 Watt speaker is designed to handle 100 Watts and will be of more robust construction than the 50 Watt speaker. It will waste more of the input power as heat. So, for reliability, it’s a good idea to buy a speaker of the same or slightly higher RMS rating than the amplifier needs. It’s better to match the speakers and amplifier. If you have a 100 Watt amplifier, you’ll usually get more volume by sharing the power among four 30 Watt speakers than by two 50/60 Watt speakers or one 100 Watt speaker. However, there’s another consideration. If you drive a loudspeaker too close to its rated power level, you’ll get a lot more distortion and it may fail sooner. So, choosing a loudspeaker is always a trade off between maximum volume, minimum distortion and maximum reliability. In addition, if you run an amplifier above about 80 percent of its rated output, you’ll usually get more distortion and poor reliability. So, for example, an amplifier rated at 100 Watts RMS will probably give best quality sound and reliability into four 30 Watt speakers at 80 percent of maximum output. Pumping up the volume beyond that will inevitably pump up the cost in the long term. Finally, an amplifier that is turned up so high that it “clips” will put high frequency energy into the speaker, which it may not be able to handle. This energy will heat up the voice coil, causing it to fail. Use your brain and your ears. If it sounds distorted, fuzzy or “scratchy” then you are probably damaging the speakers. These are not rules “set in stone” but are good for general guidance.

Portable PA systems are perfect for small venues where only one speaker is required. With it’s built-in mixer, amp and speaker – there is very little else required. They take up very little room indeed and some landlords place one on the bar and run the quiz totally from it – even putting their fixed ‘tannoy’ mic next to the speaker!

7.LEADS

 These are advisable to purchase at the same time as the equipment.This is so the shop knows which connections are needed.It is a good idea to always carry spare leads as you’ll be surprised at the times a lead will ‘break’ during the course of the night.

ON THE NIGHT “Get there early”

Better still, get the landlord to reserve  a table. You will need one where you are visible to the majority of the quiz area. Once you are set up it is a good idea to do a sound check and adjust the mic volume ,etc. Decide whose going to sell and distribute the forms.

Before the quiz starts it would pay to mention that any form of cheating will NOT be tolerated. The use of mobile phones is a real problem and even though they may not be using it to find the answers, others might think they are. It is advisable that you remind them constantly throughout the evening and even threaten to ban them if they are caught. I used to mention that we would put two bowls on each table – one with water. All phones are put in the empty one and if they are caught cheating then the said phone would be placed in the one with water!Spencers quizzers (Mobile)

Don’t shout over the mic just because there’s a group near you who are not interested in the quiz. Your panicky voice will broadcast all over the venue and sound amateurish.Read slowly, clearly and don’t be afraid to repeat the question. Those with broad accents will need to remember that there may be some who might not grasp an important word in the question. You’d be amazed at the amount of times at the end of the night that a person has got quite ‘miffed’ as misinterpreting a ‘key’ question. Ideally,you could put up the questions at the bar – maybe half-time and at the end. This way,the onus is on them to read the questions in case they didn’t quite hear it correctly.

Make sure that you sound enthusiastic and remember the ‘Golden Rule‘ – the Question Master is always right! We all make mistakes from time to time and it’s always advisable to give teams a chance to check their quiz-sheets. That way, wrong answers or incorrectly marked forms can be rectified before you give out the results – and prizes.

Spencers landlady quizmaster (Mobile)

The questions should be set in a way that it gives everybody a fair chance. To make a quiz night successful you have to balance your questions – right? Make them too hard – you will lose the teams who come for a fun night out. Make them too easy – it becomes a ‘raffle’ and the serious quizzers get cheesed off! So how do you find that fine balance that keeps everybody happy? Our quiz-packs have addressed that problem and merged the ‘two worlds’ into one, by making them  thought-provoking on a level playing field for everyone. This keeps both camps happy and keeps your quizzers coming back for more. You may know your audience better and know to what standard they will play comfortably to. There are some excellent websites out  there that will supply a tailored quiz for the more serious quiz audience.

If you can strike the right balance then you will be safe in the knowledge that your quiz night was a success. A good night will lead to people returning the next week – and telling their friends.

We hope this has been of some help to you and wish you every success for your quiz night – you never know, you might want to do it again!

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