Trivia Nights For Dummies®

Table of Contents

About This Book
Conventions Used in This Book
How This Book Is Organised
Part I: Planning a Trivia Night
Part II: Finding the Best Questions
Part III: Putting on the Night
Part IV: The Part of Tens
Icons Used in This Book
Where to Go from Here
Part I: : Planning a Trivia Night
Chapter 1: Trivia Nights — Your Kind of Party
What Is Trivia?
Sizing Up Trivia Events
Satisfying your trivia need
Deciding Whether Trivia is Right for Your Night Out
Playing trivia to raise money
Playing trivia for fun
Staging a Trivia Event
Important Questions for You to Answer
Trivia Questions for Your Guests to Answer
Chapter 2: Using Trivia to Fund a Good Cause
Understanding How a Trivia Event Makes Money
Finding (and Keeping) Helpers
Choosing a Host for the Trivia Event
Hiring the professionals
Going it alone
Picking the Date, Time and Place
Scheduling your event
Planning the venue
Working Out How Much to Charge
Organising Food and Drinks
Feeding the players
Deciding on drinks
Talking Technology
Advertising Your Trivia Event
Choosing your audience
Getting the word out
Chapter 3: Playing Trivia Just for Fun
Getting Your Mates to Help
Hosting the Event
Planning When and Where
Setting the date
Choosing the place
Feeding the Guests
Ordering the food
Laying on the drinks
Offering Prizes
The winning trivia team
The lowest-scoring trivia team
Games winners
Spreading the Word
Chapter 4: Prizes, Games and Auctions for Fun — and Funds
Organising Prizes
Deciding on prize categories
Getting hold of prizes
Allocating prizes
Planning the Games
Matching games to the audience
Categorising games
Using the Auction Option
Live auctions
Silent auction
Part II: : Finding the Best Questions
Chapter 5: Finding Trivia Questions That Work
Understanding What Makes a Trivia Question
Using Audio and Visual Questions
Organising the Questions
Planning the rounds
Working out how many questions you need
Primary Considerations for Well-Written Questions
Finding Questions
Checking Accuracy
Matching the Questions to the Audience
Setting Out the Questions
Chapter 6: Creating a Running Sheet for a Trivia Night
Creating a Running Sheet for a Fundraising Trivia Night
Putting Together Your Social Trivia Night
Scripting the Host
Why you use a script
How you prepare a script
Chapter 7: Finding the Right Balance of Trivia Questions
Writing the Questions
Bits and Pieces
General knowledge questions
Playing the Game
Sporting questions
Matters of Note
Music questions — popular and rock
On-screen treasures
Film and television questions
Seriously Art Smart
Questions about the arts
Part III: : Putting on the Night
Chapter 8: Ticking Off the Jobs before the Show
Checking You’re Ready for Your Fundraising Trivia Event
One–three months before the event
One–four weeks before the event
One week before the event
During the week before the event
On the day of the event
Counting Down to a Social or Work Trivia Event
Chapter 9: Let the Show Begin
Setting Up the Room
Being the Perfect Host
Preparing for the event
On the night
Being a Supportive Team
Managing money
Clearing up afterwards
Part IV: : The Part of Tens
Chapter 10: Ten Games to Play at Trivia Events
Fundraising Games
Hundred Dollar Note game
Four Corners
True or False (or Tops and Tails)
Heads and Tails
Nearest the Pin/Coin Toss
100 Bottles
Putting On Games Just for Fun
First In with the Buzzer
Musical Chairs
Balloon Blowing
Chapter 11: Ten Places to Find Prizes
Using the World Wide Web
Picking Up Prizes from Your Friends
A holiday house
A drive
Checking Local Businesses for Prizes
Feeling Fit and Beautiful
Eating Out
Going to the Movies
Finding Freebie Tickets for Prizes
Theatre and circus
Playing the Sporting Prize Game
Staying Over — Free Accommodation
Bed and Breakfasts
Floating on Air and Sea
Boat trips
Chapter 12: Almost Ten Ways to Advertise Your Trivia Event
Word of Mouth
The Internet
Creating your poster
Displaying your poster
Electronic Media
Chapter 13: Ten Handy Sources for Trivia Questions
Questions from the World Wide Web
General knowledge questions
‘On this day’ questions
Questions from Radio and TV
Questions from Books
One Final Note
Chapter 14: Ten Great Trivia Questions
The Questions
The Answers

Trivia Nights for Dummies

by Alan Lovett


Wiley Publishing Australia Pty Ltd

About the Author

Alan Lovett started his own trivia event company, Melbourne Trivia Company, after becoming bored with the banal old-fashioned style of his events-company employers and embarrassed by the under-researched questions he often found himself asking as a host at trivia nights.

Since then, Alan has become an acknowledged specialist in writing interesting trivia questions. He has been commissioned to write questions for Carlton Draught and VB bottle caps — you can read nearly 3000 of his questions just by unscrewing beer caps. In the months leading up to the 2006 Melbourne Commonwealth Games, Alan wrote 1000 multiple-choice questions for The Brains Behind the Games, an online Australia-wide corporate trivia quiz for Commonwealth Games sponsors, PricewaterhouseCoopers, Hudson and Allens Arthur Robinson. He has also written Melbourne-based trivia for the Web site, Only Melbourne (

As a host, Alan is a popular choice, particularly for trivia nights involving the arts, having prepared and hosted successful events for the National Gallery of Victoria, the Melbourne Symphony Orchestra, the St Kilda Film Festival, the Melbourne International Film Festival and the Melba Conservatorium of Music. For five years now, his Fringe Trivia Challenge has pitted representatives of Melbourne’s major arts organisations against one another in triviatorial combat.

Alan has also presented trivia for sporting clubs such as Carlton AFL Club.

Money-raising trivia activities are a specialty of Alan’s Melbourne Trivia Company, and the beneficiaries he has helped range from small suburban child-care centres to major medical research, including the fields of ovarian cancer research and cochlear ear transplants.

Alan has spent many years in the world of entertainment. As an entertainer, he has performed in Australia, Canada, the United Kingdom and the United States of America. As a writer/actor he has toured Canada and parts of the USA five times in the past 15 years. He also performs regularly in Japan (in Japanese).


To Sara, who is the honest, intelligent, talented, funny, loyal, quirky, nicotine-addicted, critical, bossy and stubborn joy of my life. She also really knows how to accessorise.

Author’s Acknowledgments

I’d like to say this book is all my own work but, luckily for me, it has had input and help from a number of other people.

Thanks to Janet McLeod — who runs a mean trivia night herself — for her help and for spending time she needed for her own work in making suggestions and reviewing the manuscript. Thanks also to Acquisitions Editor, Charlotte Duff, for her patience, particularly in the early stages of the book.

Carolyn Beaumont, my Project Editor, has (metaphorically) wrestled with me, cajoled, prodded and supported me, put up with my grumpiness and generally made sure the book happened. And happen in a way that means you read what I wanted to say and in a way that you can understand it. Thanks Carolyn.

Publisher’s Acknowledgments

We’re proud of this book; please send us your comments through our Dummies online registration form located at

Some of the people who helped bring this book to market include the following:

Acquisitions, Development and Editorial

Project Editor: Carolyn Beaumont

Review Editors: Maryanne Phillips, Jennifer Bingham

Acquisitions Editor: Charlotte Duff

Technical Reviewer: Janet McLeod

Editorial Manager: Gabrielle Packman


Layout: Wiley Production Team

Artwork: Wiley Art Studio

Proofreader: Marguerite Thomas

Cartoons: Glenn Lumsden

Indexer: Michael Ramsden


Welcome to the world of trivia nights. Like any other production in the entertainment industry, running a trivia night can be hard work but the results are very rewarding.

Remember the board game Trivial Pursuit? I’ve sat around a table, competing against friends or family, hoping the dice would turn up a category that I knew something about. Many of my friends still play and enjoy the game. The difference with trivia nights is that they get you out of the house. Instead of competing at home, you’re sitting around a table as part of a team, competing against a bunch of other teams in an event that’s part trivia quiz and part social event.

In the past 20 years or so, trivia nights have become a part of the lives of many people. You may have been to a local school or kindergarten fundraising trivia night. You may have played True or False and begged the next table to be generous with your ‘nearly-correct’ answers. Or you may be among the many members of the community who turn out every week to play trivia with your team at the local pub.

This book takes you to the next level of participation in a trivia event — to where you’re no longer a mere player, but you become the organiser of the event. With the advice and insights offered in this book, you can plan your own trivia night and run an event that gives pleasure to other people and, if needed, raise money for a worthy cause.

About This Book

In this book, I introduce you to the skills I use to plan a successful trivia event. Over the years, I’ve prepared and hosted hundreds of trivia nights for all sorts of occasions — hen parties, corporate conferences, clubs’ annual general meetings and office and other social clubs. I’ve prepared and presented fundraising trivia nights for child-care centres, kindergartens, schools, university faculties and sporting clubs, as well as all sorts of charities and other worthy causes. In this book, you can pick my brain as I share some of the secrets involved in planning and presenting a trivia night.

This book contains valuable information to help you

missing image file Decide whether to have a trivia night

missing image file Plan the event

missing image file Get help

missing image file Organise equipment

missing image file Find prizes

missing image file Choose a host

missing image file Run the night

Although the overall shape of a trivia night is usually more or less the same, some important differences occur between fundraising and purely social non-fundraising events. To make these differences easy to understand, I cover fundraising events and events that are just for fun separately in this book. Along the way, I show you how to organise games and prizes, pick a venue, drum up support and advertise your event and, best of all, ensure your trivia night is not only successful but very entertaining.

Conventions Used in This Book

To help you pick out information from a page, I use the following conventions throughout the text:

missing image file Bold highlights the action parts or keywords in bulleted lists.

missing image file ‘Google’ is now a word in dictionaries, a verb meaning to search for something, using any Internet search engine (whether it’s Google or some other, such as Yahoo or ninemsn). Throughout the book, the word ‘google’ with a lower-case ‘g’ is meant to be generic in that sense. Google with a capital ‘G’ refers to the Google search engine.

missing image file Sidebars, which look like text enclosed in a shaded grey box, consist of information that’s interesting to know but not necessarily crucial for your understanding of the chapter or section’s topic. If you do stop to read a sidebar, you can expect either to gain information that you appreciate, that interests you or even entertains you.

missing image file Web addresses appear in a special font (for example, so you can easily pick them out.

How This Book Is Organised

This book is divided into five parts — from discovering what trivia is, all the way to cleaning up after your successful trivia night. Last is the ever-popular Part of Tens to finish off the job. Each of these five parts looks at a different aspect of planning and presenting a trivia night. Each chapter is self-contained so you can read the chapters in any order that suits your needs.

Part I: Planning a Trivia Night

Part I introduces the trivia experience and then shows you how to plan a successful trivia event — for raising money or just for fun. Organising the night includes finding the right help, deciding when and where to hold the event, how to choose a host and then where to advertise your event. This part also deals with games to play and the prizes you need to collect for the winners.

Part II: Finding the Best Questions

At the core of any trivia night is the trivia. Part II takes you straight to the fun of preparing questions and creating a program for the night. I also give you plenty of typical trivia questions to start you off.

Part III: Putting on the Night

Part III takes you to the actual trivia event, counting down to the day, then guiding you and your host through what needs to be done on the night. I also give you some useful tips on dealing with problems that can arise during a trivia event.

Part IV: The Part of Tens

In the Part of Tens, I recommend ten games to play at your trivia night. I share ten tips for finding prizes, almost ten advertising ideas and ten sources for trivia questions and, to finish off, reveal ten of my classic trivia questions.

Icons Used in This Book

Icons (little pictures in the margins) are used throughout this book to bring attention to details that you may find helpful or important when organising a trivia event.

Tip.eps Tips reveal good advice that can save you a lot of time and trouble.

Remember.eps This icon is a friendly reminder of planning details that you don’t want to forget when organising your trivia night.

Warningbomb.eps Beware when you see this icon because this icon helps you avoid the pitfalls that can open when organising a big event, such as a trivia night. Avoiding traps can make a big difference to the success of the work you’re doing to organise your special night.

JargonAlert2.eps This icon alerts you to words or phrases that are helpful to know, or that have slightly different meanings from their everyday use, when used in the context of planning a trivia night.

WorldWideWeb.eps This icon suggests you go to the World Wide Web to find helpful information or to check answers. This icon also points out the URLs (Web site addresses) of useful sources of information.

Where to Go from Here

Unlike reading a novel from beginning to end, you can open this book at the chapter that answers your questions and get right into organising your trivia night. You can start at the beginning and read Chapter 1 to get up-to-speed on all things non-trivial about trivia nights. Or you can use the Trivia Nights For Dummies Table of Contents or the Index to locate the exact information you want to find.

I don’t mind which methods you use — you can move around from chapter to chapter in any order that suits you, and still understand how to create a great trivia event.

Part I:

Planning a Trivia Night


‘At the end of the final round, please feel free to help yourself to tea, coffee, marriage guidance counselling and anger-management therapy.’

Glenn Lumsden

In this part . . .

You’re reading this book because you want to organise a trivia event. Whether your trivia night is to raise money for a worthy cause or just to have a fun night out, posing trivia questions to an eager audience can be very enjoyable.

In this first part of the book, you discover different kinds of trivia events, and find out how to plan a successful trivia night — for raising money or just for fun. As well, I talk about how to get help to organise your trivia night, what prizes you need and how to find prizes that don’t cost you a cent.