What are people trying to achieve at a quiz?

I’ve been thinking about the fact that different people at different places want different things from quizzes. That’s obvious, really, but it’s definitely worth every quiz master remembering that fact.

What I want from a quiz that I am hosting (from a personal perspective) can coincide loosely with what the event organiser wants. Event organisers, depending on the event, may want a variety of things like team building, networking,  employees feeling good about their employer, the publicising of a brand, a particular message to get across – all these generally boil down to it being a good, fun event where people get on, enjoy themselves and people will say afterwards that it was a good event.

That last bit’s what I want too, basically, for different but linked reasons. I want it be a good, fair, lively, competitive quiz, for it to be smoothly and well run; I want it to stand out from other quizzes they’ve ever had, I want people to think the questions were memorable, the rounds were innovative; I want there to be no mishaps and controversies. Above all, I want people to be entertained.

At the back of my mind, I know that’s because I want the client to think well of QuizQuizQuiz, to book us again, to think we’re a safe pair of our hands and to think we live up to what we promise.  By and large, I forget about that once the quiz is underwasy and the momentum of the event takes over: I want the quiz to be fun and competitive because of a mixture of professional pride and taking pleasure in other people’s enjoyment.

These are all good solid motivations. I’m a professional working for a business and I’m trying to do my job well, which is to entertain and provide an enjoyable evening.

But sometimes a quiz master might forget that the motivation of nearly everyone else there is different from that. Many participants may not really care about there being a positive atmosphere and thinking  that it’s a nicely put together quiz, that it’s all being run smoothly and with clear direction A few might notice that kind of thing and it’s great if they do, but basically, most people want to win the quiz and feel that they, personally and their team, have had a good time. Purely and simply.

They’re not thinking about any kind of bigger picture. Of course having a few drinks and a laugh is an important part of it for many people, but, above all, the really important thing is that they want to  get as many right as they can in order to win.

Whereas, obviously, I, as the Quiz Master, don’t care at all who wins. I’d rather one team didn’t win by a huge margin but, otherwise, I’m a bit removed from people’s fierce competitiveness.

If you’re not careful, it can take you aback. A participant might act in a fiercely competitive way, for example marching up to me while I’m speaking and demanding I repeat a question I’ve already repeated twice because they were in the loo, and a quiz master might think “does this person not realise that this is a small delay which adversely affects the excellent momentum this quiz has built up and the altogether delightful atmosphere?” Well, of course they don’t, or if they do realise, they don’t really care. They want to win and they’re going to fight for it.

That’s what many people can be like when they take part in quizzes, anyway. Even for me, though I have a professional hat I can put on, and I can think “aah, that was a good question, this is a very efficient quiz master, this room has a good atmosphere etc …” I still will put that all aside in my effort to win the quiz.

So, it’s an obvious thing for every quiz master to remember. On a good night, where everyone is in perfect harmony, it can seem like every participant is collaborating with you with the same agenda to have a fine all-round quiz evening. But above all most people are just trying to win the quiz.

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