Friday, 24 February 2012

Our Survey Said: What!?! Crazy Mothers!

At we recently undertook an exercise to survey our mailing list to help us compile a series of "Our Survey Said"/"Family Fortunes" type questions. The idea was simple, we ask the question, the newsletter subscribers would send us the first answer which came to mind - and we would record the most popular answers to compile our finished quiz.

What we were perhaps not so prepared for, though watching the tv show for decades should have readied us, was some of the more humorous or bizarre answers which were supplied. And so for purposes of humour and education we have provided some of the more unusual responses here.

Name a species of dinosaur?

We can probably thank films like Jurassic Park for popularising the obvious top answer of Tyranosaurus Rex, as it has been demonised and turned into a ferocious hulking killer, something nightmares are made of. Other dinosaurs which featured in the survey responses were Stegosaurus, Brontosaurus, Triceratops, Velociraptor, Diplodocus and Pteradactyl. Given the Jurassic Park influence it is surprising Velociraptor did not feature more prominently. No chicken sized Compsognathus either...

Name a famous London tourist attraction?

Buckingham palace? Downing Street? The Millenium Dome/O2 Arena perhaps? Not with our survey. The most popular London Landmark which comes to mind is the iconic London Eye.

Name an item you would find in the garden?

Tools of various kinds featured (rakes, hoes, spades, forks). This was followed in popularity by flowers and plants, garden sheds. But the answers also reflected the broad range of different things people keep in their gardens: swings, trampolines, lawn mowers, hoses, garden gnomes, bird tables, fish ponds, bbqs, trees, plant pots, sundials. And one respondent apparently owns a fountain....

Name a television puppet character?

The responses to this question must betray the [unverified] range of ages of the people who responded to the survey. Whilst the top answers were as expected, with Sooty and Basil Brush, less popular answers included Gordon the Gopher, Captain Scarlet, Finger Mouse, Troy Tempest, and Andy Pandy. Perhaps equally surprising then is that neither mangy Hartley Hare or Bagpuss featured. Stranger answers that did included cartoon character Bart Simpson and Teletubby La-La.

Name an activity you do with one hand?

The question immediately begs a x-rated answer, and indeed our respondents obliged with what one reply referred to as "Indulge in Oneism", and which we tweely categorised as "the naughty thing". In the interests of politeness you might want to wash your one hand before partaking of the other responses: shaking hands, writing, shaving, painting, playing darts or brushing your teeth...

Name an activity enjoyed by pensioners?

Not dead yet, but hoping whistfully for the grave according to our survey. Activities enjoyed by our elder citizens according to our scientifically conducted poll include drinking, gossiping, being grumpy, moaning, sleeping and death. For those still this side of the hereafter, other activities included bowling, knitting, golf, coach trips, sex and jigsaws. Oh joy.

Name a member of the Royal Family?

The results for this question confirmed what you might expect, that whilst the Queen is greatly respected, the younger royals are more popular than their preceeding generation. Harry and William polled higher than their father Charles, with Harry also being more popular than his brother.

What is a popular name for a dog?

We should have known better than to ask something like this. Apart from the names Rover (16 responses), and Rex (6) almost every response was for a completely different name, ranging from Fido, Spot, Ben and Max to Deefor (as in "D for" dog), Shep, Bonzo, Gerald, Patch,Monty, Bello, Bruno, Buster, etc etc. Everyone has their unique favourite.

Not so great when trying to compile a bloody quiz though...

Saturday, 18 February 2012

Publicity For Your Quiz Night (pt1) - Consider All Angles

It is all well and good that you put lots of effort into your quiz night, that you craft the perfect blend of questions, and run of lots of picture quiz rounds, but what if nobody turns up? Are you maximising your revenues by advertising your quiz?

Pub quizzes are very popular events and hosting a pub quiz will likely draw visitors to your pub or quiz venue who might not otherwise have come along. The pub quiz has increasingly become a British obsession. This means that it makes sense to publicise your quiz event as widely as possible, to draw in as many players as possible.

Get the Word Out - tell them and they will come...

Word of mouth is the obvious first step. Let your friends, family and regulars all know that you have a quiz, and when. If you are offering a prize, or you are providing a buffet or food as an accompaniment to the evening, then make sure you mention that too.

And get your staff involved! You and your bar staff should ask when serving customers if they might be interested in attending the pub quiz. It might not be their "thing", but on the other hand they may have friends or relatives who might be interested. On the night of the event, before the quiz, pro-actively go round with the quiz sheets and ask if regulars would like to participate in the quiz, rather than re-actively wait for them to ask for answer sheets.

Your quiz itself should naturally include a couple of formalities - the first is that you should welcome the contestants to the quiz. Be sure to also mention at the end of your quiz that your contestants should invite and welcome friends and family along to the next event - the more the merrier. Leave them knowing when the next event is - if they enjoyed themselves, they are sure to be back.

Keep Them Posted - with Posters!!!

As well as your word of mouth efforts, you will want to include posters in your armoury of marketing and advertising efforts. The great thing about posters is that they can convey information in a more complete way than perhaps a brief chat at the bar. They should clearly include the date, the time, and if necessary the location. Prizes could also be detailed, or emphasise if the quiz is in support of a local charity. All in a tidy A3 or A4 visual presentation which grabs the attention.

These should be prominently placed around your venue for maximum effect, up to date, and clearly present your message. If the quiz has a theme, then use a themed poster to emphasise that.
The posters are your way to reach people who may fall through your net of word of mouth advertising. Someone sat in your pub will be able to digest the details at their leisure. At we have a range of general and themed quiz posters in pdf format for you to use and print to help promote your quiz event.

You might want to print out flyers to hand out, or leave on your tables. Casual visitors can pick these up and take onboard the details without you having to be particularly "in your face". Other local businesses such as locale cafes and newsagents might be willing to hand these out to customers to promote the area, and events in the area. And if you feel particularly energetic you might want to put these through the letterboxes of potential customers who live nearby. The flyer might be a smaller replica of your poster, or include additional information about prizes.

What about the World Wide Web?

If you pub quiz is included in a web directory, or some pub listing site, see if your listing details your quiz night information. We at have a pub directory of 26,000 pubs, and from time to time receive queries as to local pubs holding quiz nights, but we do not currently hold consistent levels of deatil on this front. However, let us know a handful of basic details about your quiz night, and we will try and include it in our directory listing.

So check that your venue is in our directory, and then make sure we know when your quiz is!!! You can contact us on And next time someone asks us about quiz nights in your area, we can direct them to you...

More Exposure - The Local Press

For more ambitious events, or if there is something a bit unusual or out of the ordinary about your event you might be able to employ the assistance of your local or regional press. Local newspapers will look for local intrerest stories to fill out their pages, and the more regularly they publish, the more pages they need to fill. And if your event is sufficiently newsworthy, you may even get regional or national exposure.

Watch out for our future blog on publicising your event and we will set out how to court your local journalists and the press to maximise your exposure.

So, in Summary:
  • Tell everybody about your quiz before the event, make sure they known when it is.
  • After your quiz, remind them when the next one is!!!
  • Use word of mouth to spread the message.
  • Use posters to visually promote your quiz
  • Think about using flyers and handouts.
  • Remember to promote your quiz online too.
  • Can you harness the local press to help promote your quiz?

As ever, if you have some technique or advice for promoting your local quiz night which we have not included here then we are eager to hear from you, and for you to share your wisdom and expertise.

Hope your quiz night is a great success...

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Help Us with Our New Quiz Format

Help Us with Our New Quiz Format
And We Will Send You The Finished Quiz For FREE are preparing a new "Our Survey Said"/Family Fortunes quiz format and need your assistance in creating the questions. In return for your help we will send you a copy of the finished quiz.

Simply answer the questions on our website here with the answer that first comes to mind, and when we have compiled all the responses and prepared the quiz/quizzes we will send you a copy for free to thank you for your contribution.

Important: Any email address provided as part of this exercise will be used ONLY to provide a copy of the quiz once available - it will not be used for further marketing or passed to any third parties.

Proper Preparation Prevents Pee Poor Performance

So as usual, we are sat in the local, nursing our pints while the genial quiz host works his magic and serves out the quiz questions. Our team is Nathan who knows everything there is to know about popular dance culture, violent films of the 1990s, recreational drugs, and anagrams of terms of abuse. Emma specialises in anything fluffy, soap operas and bizarrely Bollywood. Andy who has been sold as knowing everything, but only seems to know everything that the rest of us knew anyway. Richard who specialises in comic books, and spending his teen years in his bedroom. And there's me, mopping up anything else.

It's been a great night and everyone is enjoying themselves. But then unexpectedly disaster strikes. Unexpected to everyone, that is [and here is the shocking bit] - including the quiz host.

And what is it that shatters the pleasure of the evening? Is the building on fire or under attack? Has a fight started by the pool table, or someone misjudged a dart and planted it in the middle of the large plasma tv which takes pride of place on one wall, or taken out One Eyed Sharon's good eye with a ricochet? No such thing - put simply - our quizmaster has not done his homework. Cue balls-up in the quiz proceedings:

"Who was the first - eh, that's not right. Bloody 'ell there's no answer with this question."

Confusion reigns for a couple of minutes, while he shuffles and rifles somewhat embarassed through several sheets of paper, and then decides to plough on.

"Ok, next question: What is the name of Paul McCartney's wife, who has only one leg? Eh, what? He got divorced from her? Aw bloody 'ell. What do you mean he has a new wife? We're having a right week this week. "

Again howls of derision and impatience. A group in the corner who came to play for the first time this week seem highly amused by how unprofessional the quiz is, and I cannot help but wonder if they will be back next week. I can hear circus music playing in my subconscious mind, and see the quiz master with size 22 shoes, braces and a flame red Ronald McDonald wig and nose. Someone pass me a custard pie.

Determined not to be put off the quiz master continues. "Who plays Darth Vader in Star Wars? What do you mean which one? There is only one Darth Vader. Oh, which film? What? What do you mean who plays him physically or provides his voice?"

By now the regulars are getting rowdy and unsettled. There are arguments breaking out all over the room. The quiz master looks and sounds like he would rather be somewhere else. Some of us feel the same. Lynch mob mentality is spreading around the room...

Lessons From the Front Line - Check Your Material Is Complete and Accurate

What can you learn from this ridiculous situation?

Well, for a start you might want to check through your questions BEFORE you present your quiz. As a minimum of preparation you would expect to read through what you are presenting - and especially so if this is not your own finely honed, expertly researched handiwork. If you downloaded your questions from a website then double check what you have presumably paid for just as a precaution. After all, remember the six p's: Proper Preparation Prevents Piss Poor Performance.... Your quiz should be both complete and accurate. You really only have yourself to blame if your quiz has badly worded questions, is missing petinent facts, or worst of all - the answers!

If you have time you might want to check the answers for accuracy too - it's not enough that they just be present. Whilst obviously over simplifying - stating that the answer to 5 +3 = 10 will get you strung up from the light fittings for being obviously factually inaccurate. Stating that someone starred in a  film when they didn't will lose you an arm or a leg in some venues, get the name wrong and you might never be asked back. Reliance on an outdated resource for quiz compiling might mean that your quiz is out of date too, and this could give rise to arguments amongst your quiz  teams and disagreements when you come to present the answers. Remember people can divorce as well as marry, can cease to exist, and that something stated as fact, might only be accurate on the day it was initially written. Certainly the answer to "Who was the last man to walk on the moon?" might be considerably different in 100 years time. Normally the rule is that the players should aim to get the answer that the quiz master has on his answer sheet. That is all very well if the answer is beyond dispute, but if the answer is open to interpretation - or worse - argument, expect that you might be open to abuse...

Avoid Ambiguous Questions

Checking through your questions will also allow you an opportunity to spot any ambiguous questions. these are questions where the wording is vague or the answer is by no means certain without further clarification. Your audience will not sit quietly by as you ask a question which could potentially have ten different answers. Remember that there might be multiple people, books or films with the same name. If your question references one of them, make sure that you at least know which one, and make sure you clarify that in your questions.

Being Fore-warned is being Fore-armed.

Have you considered how you will play these and various other scenarios?

To the experienced quiz master it's water off a duck's back - he has seen it all before and knows just exactly how to react - he may be able to pull off a well rehearsed quip, and rally everyone back around before the damage is done and anarchy allowed to reign. Better still, having read through the quiz two days before, he was able to check a couple of facts, fill in the missing answers, and even throw away a couple of questions in favour of his own.

Knowing where the pitfalls lie has allowed him to avoid them altogether.

It can be a war zone out there for the uninitiated, or blatantly clueless. So good luck, and whilst hoping for the best, be sure you have prepared for the worst.... read through your quiz materials, and be prepared for the unexpected.

Saturday, 4 February 2012

For Ckufs Sake, Not Another YBolod Anagram Question

One of my local pubs has a convention that whoever wins the weekly pub quiz one week, sets the questions for the following week. This prevents the same team from winning week after week after week to the fury, annoyance and despair of quizzing regulars. It also leads to some interesting situations..

One week I arrived as usual with my friends, to find on the table, not the usual picture round but a sheet with about 30 anagrams on it. The previous week a team of expert quizzers had won, and clearly wanted to throw down the gauntlet. We were allowed to paw over these anagrams for about half an hour before the rest of the quiz took place, about another 30 regular questions on general knowledge theme.

I looked at the sheet - "A Canner Grosz Werzeld", "Aced A Dykes Skirmish", "Once Cool Dance Musician", "Xixbut Kissmyarz" and what seemed like many, many, many more - they all looked like the names of extraterrestrials from 1950s sci fi films, or an explosion in a dyslexic Scrabble factory.

After two minutes of struggling I lost interest and found consolation in my bottle of Kopparberg pear cider instead, feeling a complete dummy. Half the points from the quiz were there on that sheet of paper if I could only decrypt the code. The fact that I could not get a single one out of the 30 meant that I might as well have not bothered turning up."Missy Books Hell" - who or what the hell was that?  If I was lucky they would be offering a wooden spoon consolation prize for the thickest team. I felt sure we would win it...

Lessons From the Front Line

What can be learnt from this experience? Well, the obvious lesson is that your quiz should be varied. Reliant on too many questions of a prticular type, or that rely on a specific type of thinking are good for people who think in that way, but might be a struggle for those who are not suited to that type of question - which might include most of your regulars.

I've seen a number of IQ type tests in the past, and the types of questions test your ability to spot patterns, and sequences, and ask you to predict the next in the series or pattern. I believe that having seen enough examples, and know how these work, that presented with such questions I would do well. But then I'm quite logical, mathematically minded, and good at recognising this kind of thing. But give me an anagram and I'm screwed - I just struggle with them as though I were a clueless 8 year old rather than the well read, well educated, technically skilled, professional and law graduate that I am.

A well balanced quiz will challenge different kinds of knowledge, and intellectual skills, verbal reasoning, spacial awareness, logical deduction and numeric prowess. Relying too heavilly on one format is sure to upset, frustrate or downright annoy those who are not good at the type of format you have set. A similar example would be setting questions as though your players were all Mastermind contestants - "What was the middle name of the maiden aunt of Chopin who died of consumption in 1643", "In what day of the week did Zachary Quinto's youngest cousin on his father's side have his first tooth filling? And what was the name of his dentist's dog?" If people cannot answer most of the questions in your quiz they will feel a failure, and this loss of confidence and morale relates directly into lack of enjoyment. Ideally aim for you quiz to be challenging, but that working together a good team should get between half to three quarters of the answers. The remaining questions are what determines who wins.

The Golden Rule of Pub Quizzes

Remember that whatever else they tell you, the golden rule of the pub quiz is "it should be enjoyable". If its a pleasure to participate then they will keep coming back for more.

So in summary, go easy on the anagrams, because I'm rubbish at them...

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Keep It Punchy Mate, Some of Us Have Got A Bus to Catch...

Here is a lesson from the front line - keep your pub quiz delivery punchy and to the point. There is nothing worse than some inept buffoon dawdling and taking forever to oversee proceedings.

The importance of this lesson was rammed home one evening at my local pub quiz where the regular host was incapacitated for some reason or other. His well meaning mate, an old chummy regular who knew one of the quiz teams too well stepped in instead to help out and compere. All well and good except the guy was a monotonous drone.

First he took forever to start the quiz, flitting about, chatting to his friends in one of the teams - matey banter that was inappropriate and excluded everyone else. Nobody knew what was going on, or when. If finally came as a surprise to some that he had already read out the first five questions.

Throughout the quiz he bumbled and fumbled his way through the questions, he kept having to be asked to repeat himself because even though he had use of a PA system. He simply seemed to use it to address his table of mates in the corner, and seldom even turned to acknowledge the players in the next room.

Again throughout the quiz he seemed to forget he was hosting, and lost himself in what he must have thought was amusing banter or flirting with his friends. Regular players started chatting amongst themselves and as a result no-one could hear the questions when he finally tried to deliver them.

The evening drew on, and on and on and endlessly onwards, and we were still only half way through. Normally the quiz would have started about 9pm proper with a picture round followed by two rounds of ten questions each, a 10-15 minute break for refreshments and nicotine addicts to gather sociably around the front door of the pub, and resumed with three more rounds. Finally after another break the answers would be read out, with the quiz wrapped up by about 10.20pm, leaving people to wind down for last orders, and to drift off home. But not on this night, we still had half the quiz to get through, before then revealing the answers and who had won.

By this time several of us were ready to drag the old goat out, tie him to a tree and shoot him.

Finally people started inevitably gathering their things and leaving before the quiz was over. Some people had trains, buses, taxis or lifts to catch. Others had to be up in the morning so could not aford to hang around 'til midnight to find out what the answers were, or who had won. Others had just lost the will to live and didn't care any more.

End result: a lot of regular quiz participants were irritated, pissed off and some likely to not come back. Not so much a case of metaphorically shooting yourself in the foot as a case of blowing your bloody leg off!

So What Did We Learn?

  • Whoever presents your local quiz night needs a modicum of charisma. Dig up a corpse at your peril.

  • Let the players know when you are going to start, how you will proceed, when you will take breaks for refreshments, and when you will be resuming with further rounds or the answers. Repeat this throughout the quiz so everyone knows what is going on, and just as importanntly, when.

  • Monotone delivery will at least put your players to sleep, if not utterly irritate them or push them into a coma.

  • Make sure everyone can hear you. Stage actors are taught to project their voices to the people furthest away from them, at the back of the theatre. Same principle here, everyone needs to hear you.

  • Pause briefly between questions, allowing the teams to discuss amongst themsleves and then answer the question, but dont leave it too long - you still have the rest of the quiz to get through!

  • Start bumbling, farting about then people will get restless and agitated. As soon as this happens noise levels increase and your question delivery is lost amidst the hubbub. Keep a steady tempo and people will settle down to hear you read the questions, but if your delivery is constantly broken and irregular they will not know when to expect the next question.

  • Be clear, be concise, get on with it, you have several rounds to get through. Delivering the questions with authority means people will settle down to listen whilst you are speaking.

  • Remember you have an audience, so cut the cute banter with your mates. You are there for everybody, not just your table of favoured cronies in the corner. Have a bit of common courtesy. If you must share a joke, share it with everyone.

  • Don't dawdle. Remember that you may well have all evening to waste, but some people have jobs to get up for in the morning so bloody well get on with it, and don't keep people waiting forever while you fraternise with your mates. People came for the quiz, not to sit around waiting for you to get your shit together.

  • Summarise each round before and after. This punctuates proceedings nicely. This again lets the players know what to expect, and allows for the repetition of any questions. It also keeps you in control.

Hopefully you have the good fortune of a great quiz master, with punchy, timely delivery and sound judgement. He will ensure that he is heard, and that everyone is treated fairly, and that no apparent favouritism is shown. Everyone will feel that they got the same opportunity to hear and answer the questions, and that he repeated any required without taking forever.

Remember at your peril that you are supposed to be entertaining your customers and quiz participants, not trying to grate on their nerves or bore them to death...