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How to Run Your Very Own Online Trivia Night

Let’s face it: exercising self-restraint has never been the easiest thing in the world. If it was, there wouldn’t be a booming business of self-help books and experts who get paid to help you figure it out. And right now, everyone is having to exercise some level of additional self-restraint. Many of us have routines that have been impacted, interrupted, or inconvenienced.

Part of my routine involves being a trivia host; I run a weekly event at one location and a monthly event at another location. One of the things I enjoy the most about being a trivia host is interacting with my regulars. I have people who tell me how much they look forward to attending my events, and it motivates me to put together a good event each and every time.

The COVID-19 pandemic took away my ability to put on trivia events. My initial reaction was one of disappointment. But then, inspiration! We live in a society where you can find almost anything on the great big interwebs in the sky! So I reached out to the owners of both establishments with a thought: what if we did an online, live-stream version of our trivia events?

And now, here we are. So without further ado, behold! I present to you: How To Run Your Very Own Online Trivia Night With Great Success! (Working title)

Step One: Find your system.

I will freely admit that I stole my format from a trivia guy whose style I really enjoyed, and whose event I attended regularly for almost two years. The format is simple: five rounds, ten questions each. Round three is always different, whether it be a picture round or a music round—something that gives the participants a little break from the standard. To throw in a little “press your luck” element, I let the teams choose one round in which to get double points. I don’t announce the round themes ahead of time, so teams can’t plan which round they want to double ahead of time.

For answer submissions, I created a simple Google form that people could fill out and submit for each round. This allows me to still be in charge of grading (I like being in charge!), and gives some time between rounds for people to socialize or use the bathroom.

Step Two: Find a platform.

I’ve chosen to stream my trivia night over Facebook Live, for a couple of reasons. The first reason was that my audience already existed there. Both of the venues that I hosted at pre-quarantine advertised their events on Facebook, so it was a natural choice for me. The second reason was that it was fairly simple for me to get started. I hit the “live video” option and voila! I was streaming.

Step Three: Build your audience.

Because I had an audience before I started, the unknown for me was whether I could have the same interactions and relationships with them through streaming. Turns out, when you know your regulars, it works out pretty well. But if you don’t have a pre-built audience, start like any good pyramid scheme—by recruiting your friends and family.

Step Four: Build as you go.

My first week of online trivia was just me, reading the questions, staring into the camera. Once I decided I wanted to keep doing this, I started looking into how to make it better. I found a streaming program (OBS is working for me, and it is free!), put together some PowerPoint presentations, and even figured out how to do background music! (Disclaimer: using background music might cause Facebook to shut you down, unless you can prove you own the rights to it).

And that’s trivia! What could possibly go wrong?





Aaron lives in Spokane with his wife and two children. And when it comes to Crazy Ivans, you can always expect him to go starboard in the bottom half of the hour.

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