A large number of the corporate quiz nights that we run are so-called team-building quizzes. Our views on quiz events for team-building are quite well reflected by the very first version of the QuizQuizQuiz website, back in 2003 [you can take a look at it here]. That early incarnation talked about team-building quiz nights as follows:
“Teambuilding is a key concept in any organisation, but it is very difficult to achieve. QuizQuizQuiz has a range of quiz formats that give new and existing colleagues the opportuntiy to work together, to take responsibility for their decisions, and to win or lose by these decisions.
We don’t organise wall climbing, or crossing rivers blindfolded, but we will give you a cost-effective, thoroughly entertaining day/afternoon/evening/night of teambuilding fun which is sure to have people talking about it afterwards – a true sign of successful teambuilding.
We will come to the venue of your choosing (or we can organise the venue) armed with loads of questions, and enough QuizQuizQuiz people to run a variety of different team quiz games, involving buzzers, music, and much much more. It can be lighthearted, gentle, and relaxing. Or it can be brutally competitive. But it will certainly be hugely enjoyable.
If you prefer, we can just run a pub style quiz event, but we will be sure to include some of our special teambuilding rounds.”
Well, we did learn from the early team-building quizzes that we ran for various corporate events. And in fact we probably understood more about team-building from normal quizzes that we ran. The fact is you don’t need to do anything massively out of the ordinary in terms of format to have people bonding. Many of the constituent parts of a normal quiz event do help with the bonding process, and it can just be a case of a quiz master understanding how to emphasise some of those aspects. I’ll attempt to elaborate a little.
- Just being in teams for any kind of activity is good, but it can make quite an impact how those teams are assembled. Many companies have quiz events where people form teams made up of people in their own department or work team, or just people who are already friends, but the company doesn’t necessarily gain that much overall if it is organised in this way (and may not want to – which is fine). But to get real teamwork benefits, then teams need to contain colleagues who don’t know each other all that well. The quiz provides an excellent structure for them to get to know each other, work together and generally do some good bonding.
- A team name has a big effect on team bonding. Quiz teams need a team name – it really unifies everyone under a banner that they have chosen themselves (even if they end up with an unoriginal quiz team name that they think is funny). Sometimes tables are already assigned numbers or rather bland team descriptions (“Marketing”, “Sales” etc.) but it is absolutely crucial to make them come up with their own team name as that is the beginning of the team forming process. It is quite a well known effect in psychology that you just have to call a group a team and they start wanting to be better than another team – and this is emphasised if they have a way to identify themselves (be it a team name, or blue shirts, etc.)
- Teams bond better when there is public recognition of their team, so it is important to namecheck every team from time-to-time during the quiz night, and do so in a way that encourages them to respond in some way (usually a bit of a cheer). At big quiz nights, it often isn’t practical to read out every teams’ score in every round, but you can read out a selection of the quiz team names in each round.
- For many types of quiz round it is possible for some people to disengage a bit – perhaps because there is a dominant force in the team, or because the disengaged person just isn’t in the right mood. However, add in a bit of time pressure to the competition, and suddenly you get everyone huddling together working at speed. So try mixing things up a bit and adding a timed round occasionally – this almost always helps with team bonding.
- lf you do a handout round (as we do with our Pictures & Puzzles round), don’t give any team more than 1 for every 2-3 people. This forces them to share and work together. The last thing you want is for everyone to have their own sheet and just get their head down to work on it like an exam paper.
- Similarly, don’t give teams too much spare paper and pens. I’ve been to quizzes where everybody has their own pad of paper and a pen, and instead of discussion you just see people writing down their idea for the answer and thrusting it to the official scribe. Far better to have one official answer sheet, and a few bits of scrap paper for notes, but to promote discussion through lack of alternative options for communication.
- This next one seems obvious, but just having a really good variety of question topics helps with team-building. Different people have to chip in with their different knowledge areas. If you start the quiz with a general round with mixed topics then this sets things off on the right track. Team members recognise each other’s different skill sets from early on and can use that effectively as the quiz evolves. Far better this way than to start with a very specialist topic that maybe only one or two team members will be able to work on.
- Questions that can’t be solved by just one person and need input and discussion from others are great for team building. So this is basically any question that isn’t just a straightforward “either you know it or you don’t question.” Those “know it or don’t questions” are fine, and have a part to play in a quiz, but you need plenty of talky-thinky-puzzley questions as well if you really want people to work as a team.
What other things in a quiz night help with the team bonding experience?