Friday, October 17, 2008

How not to run The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World.....ever!

We've been on the hunt for a good table quiz for a while now. While none of us are quiz specialists, we all enjoy the prospect of a good night out, testing the memory and brain cells and having a laugh. Even better if it's for a good cause and there are prizes to be had.

So when we spotted The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World.....ever! over on, we were delighted. Perfect opportunity to have some fun.

"The time is upon us for “The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World…..ever!” The arrangements have been made, venue has been booked and the quiz masters have been working day and night to create the most challenging questions.

The proceeds of this quiz go to a very deserving cause – The A to Z Children’s Charity. And therefore your help to try and spread the word and get as many people there as possible is needed and appreciated. So tell your colleagues, friends and family and forward this email to anybody who may be interested in attending “The Greatest Pub Quiz in the World… ever!”
Charity fundraising is difficult. Whether it's bake sales, coffee mornings, street collections, carol singing or table quizzes, a lot of time and preparation goes into something that the fundraisers get nothing from except the happy glow of a job well done and funds raised for a worthy cause. Still, it doesn't stop people putting in the effort, getting out there and doing their best, fair play to them.

In something as social as a pub quiz, the basic outline is normally make sure everyone enjoys participating, that the charity gets a good mention, that the quiz itself runs smoothly and that the whole thing is enjoyable - after all, it's just a bit of a laugh, right?

In fairness to the organisers of last night's quiz, they got some of the basics right. Questions, check. Answer sheets, check. People accepting money, check. Loads of people, check. Correctors, check. Charity being mentioned, check.

But, for future reference, here's what you shouldn't do:
  • Don't advertise something for 8pm sharp and then fail to start until 8:45 just because - apparently - the MC is out in the bar having a laugh with some of his mates. You have a full room waiting. Inform people, give some announcements, let people know what's happening.

  • Don't let the first time you check the sound system be when the quiz is about to start. The fact there are tables in two rooms should be an indication that you might need to turn the volume up.

  • Don't expect teams to hand up their own answers. Teams will wait until the last minute to submit their sheets in the hope of a brainwave or hearing the answers from someone else. It just delays the whole thing.

  • Don't start the questions for a round and then stop after question 3 because your mate down the back of the room has a question about the answer given in round one. That can wait until the end. There are more people here than just your friends...

  • Don't assume (a) that everyone knows all your friends down the back, and (b) wants to wave or say hello to them, no matter how "funny" they think their heckles have been. We don't particularly need to know that Mary Cochrane is someone's ma, time and time again.

  • Don't announce the prizes and say "I keep on getting handed great prizes, including tickets to [whatever it was] but God knows what we'll do with them". It's insulting to the sponsor and doesn't show you in a great light either. If the prize isn't good enough, don't offer it.

  • Don't sell raffle tickets under the guise of five for a fiver and then just pick out one strip of five per prize. If you're going to do that, say one ticket is a fiver.

  • Don't advertise same raffles as having "some really great prizes" and then have it announced that the first prize given out is "a gift my [the MCs] girlfriend got from my sister last Christmas but never wanted so we're giving it out here" even if it is a small bottle of Christina Aguilera perfume. Wow, that was worth my money, eh?

  • Don't say "We'll take a break of 15 minutes" after the 3rd round and then let that break go on over 40 minutes. People have busses and trains to catch. We had to leave at a run after the last round and before any results to make sure we got home.

  • Don't leave announcing the answers for previous rounds until 4 or 5 rounds - and an hour - later, when you're taking up time that should be used for other rounds.

  • Don't think we don't want scores. It's always good to know where you are, even if you're way down the bottom like we probably were.

  • Don't commit the obvious mistake of having ambiguous questions. It's a pub quiz - you will be taken up on it. Asking "Who were the main actors in "The Sting"" only to have people shout up "Which one?" and you saying "Ah either, you'll get double points if you name both" is just looking for trouble.
I could go on, but quite simply, organisation is key. Your friends and your colleagues may be more forgiving, but the random people who saw it on message boards, who go along to support your cause and to have a good night deserve the same welcome and respect. People have given up their free time and money to have a good night. They deserve something better than a quiz that we all agreed was the worst one we have ever been at.....ever!

(You know it's bad when you start taking random photos just to pass the time.)

While it's great that so many people helped to organise last night, and while I'm happy that my money went to a good cause, I certainly wouldn't be rushing back to another fundraising event organised by them, if this quiz was anything to go by. I don't mean this post to be as directly personal as it reads, but I'd find it difficult not to say anything that might help improve the next one.

I realise I'm probably being pedantic, that I'm expecting far too much from what's just a laugh and that sure as long as the charity gets money, then it's grand, isn't it, but for me, at least, it's not. I left with the thought that more could have been done, it would have been easier to make it better and that if we'd had a good time, we'd have been the first to recommend both event and charity to people. Now though, it just becomes a "Pity it wasn't better".

The text I got on the bus home "We should organise a charity blogger table quiz for sometime in the new year" is buzzing around in my head today. Time to put the lessons I learned and the preaching to practical use perhaps?


  1. I'd love to be involved in organising a blogger charity pub quiz if you do decide to do something about it - but I'd also love to be one of the people answering the questions!

    Unless you are going to pull all the questions from a book, how about getting multiple volunteers to develop a round of questions each, that way their team can "sit out" of that round, still making the scoring fair?

  2. I like part 2 of Elly'd comment.

    Darragh you already have the Charity. Barretstown is so close to your heart.

  3. I'm just going to assume that you ARE going to have a charity quiz to rival the monstrosity mentioned... so let me know where and when ;)

  4. Whose ma is Mary Coughlan?

  5. constructive critiquing is always a good thing.

  6. Do consider that a pub quiz on A Thursday night should finish before the last bus/trains out of town. I wonder how it ended. Did we win? I hope so. Should we expect our prizes in the post? And was that Keanu Reeves?

    ON a serious note - it was a great cause but the organisers made such a bad reflection on the charity which is a shame. If I were to hear of another event for the same Charity - I can't see myself attending. The MC was far to interested in having a laugh and a few drinks than actually running the quiz.

    Throwing a fund-raiser for Barrets town is a great idea - and if you want a hand organising it you know where I reside. I will happily count the votes.

  7. As a table quiz organiser and attender all I could do was nod reading your post - some people think that these things are 1) easy to organise 2) that'll you'll get away with any old shit.

    I enjoy going to them and running them and I have a good time too! All these are possible with a bit of thought and respect for those attending! I'm interested in anything you might be thinking about in the blogger bash front!

  8. Lottie - bad news. We didn't win :O
    And I forgot to ask if that was Keanu Reeves, sorry :)

    It was pretty badly run, hopefully we can find a few better ones to hone our skills on before this Blogger on in the New year!

  9. I am a huge table quiz enthusiast... possiby because when I was little (and up until like a year ago, if we're honest) I used to be on a team with my Mum, my Grandad and my Uncle and they used to be very clever and answer all the questions and win and I would get the prize. Well, unless it was a cash prize in which case we always had to give it back to the charity (which Sinéad beag totally didn't get but which Sinéad the Elder totally understands). Anyway, this is getting very overlong. Yay table quizzes, yay charity, do tell me if you're organising one - I'd love to help :)

  10. I like this blog but I just found this such a negative and unnecessarily petty post. Is the whole point of going to something like this not to support the charity and have a bit of fun rather than sit down the back taking notes and critiquing everything? I'm sure the organisers were only trying to do a good deed and raise some money.
    We've all been to badly organised events but sometimes when it's for a good cause you just have to let it pass, maybe a few constructive words in the ear of an organiser rather than posting the criticisms in such a public way.

  11. @Anon - In fairness to the organisers and the charity and Darragh - this is an event where people are giving up their time and money regardless of the cause and they deserve to enjoy that time.

    I attended this quiz and while aising funds for the charity is the entire point - but it felt like the organisers were simply taking the piss. Do you think if peopl went to a charity dinner and there was no food there wouldn't be complaints?

    Everyone was getting frustrated including some serious "quiz heads" and it cast a really poor light on the charity and will hamper further events.

    People are criticised all the time for mistakes and poor organisation but it is only when something is properly publicised that anyone stands up and takes action.

    I gave up my time and money in support of the charity but I was unable to participate fully in the fun due to the quiz running an hour and a half over time. If they want people to give them their time then that respect has to work both ways.

  12. Comment of the month from Lottie!
    I had considered going and I'm very glad I didn't now because that kind of stuff would have royally pissed me off.
    Charity fundraising is now a very competitive market so a bit of professionalism would go a long way.
    Darragh, I'll help you out if you want to start organising something. I mean that.