Top Selling Products

How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game

How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game

Today we are going to take on a tricky subject that a lot of entertainers have asked about over the years and that is the choice of contestants for the games.  We will look at –


  • The problem you may have of too many players
  • Choosing the right contestants to create a fun game
  • Making sure no one feels left out
  • Options for making people WANT to play


How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game – The Problem

  • You may run a trivia event, held on a stage or in front of a crowd that has a set limit to how many people can play.
  • It may be in a pub, restaurant, fund raiser or any kind of event but if you are embracing technology, but people aren’t familiar with what you do or what is going on.
  • Players arrived to socialize and drink and didn’t know there was trivia planned and were not mentally prepared to participate.
  • You ask for player to play the first round of trivia but you are met with roars of silence.
  • Too many people want to play at once:  There may come a time when you are running a game intended for 10 and 50 people show up. You then have the task of selecting  only 1/5 of the audience to play the first game of the evening. It’s easy to get people to play the next games, the trick is to get people to play that first initial game.  Face it, very few people feel comfortable participating in the very first game of the night, which is why karaoke jockeys don’t typically get their first singers until 11pm…..2 hours after they have started their show.  From 11pm onward, the karaoke lineup is maxed out.  That’s probably fine for karaoke, but with Trivia you need to hit the ground running with practical ideas for getting players to immediately play on that very first round.  Lets look at some ways to do this…


How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game – The Random Selection

A large number of trivia host prefer this style but this for me is a bit of a cowards way out. Yes if you pour names into a hat and have them drawn at random it probably the fairest way to ensure fairness but it causes a number of problems. The laws of these kinds of events means that the same people will get a few goes per month whilst some will get none. There is no guarantee of who can play each week and some people may attend every week for a year and never get to play. Of course you could have a rule whereby a player cannot play for 2 weeks in a row, but then they just won’t come back for that week and the bar will loose business. A mixture of a few methods is perhaps a better idea…


So let us say you need 10 players. Hand pick 4-5 players who either haven’t played in a while, will make a good show (as remember if you leave it to chance you may get 10 introverts and the game show will be dull to watch for the crowd) and then have the other 5 chosen at random. Everyone is involved and everyone has a chance.


How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game – Picking the Most Entertaining

TV shows take this approach and when casting for any show they tend to select the people who are the most extrovert, have the biggest personalities and can chat chat chat. On stage, this is one approach to take as your show will be more entertaining and run much more smoothly. You can easily spot these before the show as they will be loud, brash and making jokes etc. The only downside to doing this is that it becomes a contest for your attention, the introverts will feel outcast and the people will play up their extrovert nature just to get on the stage. Perhaps, as I said above, a mixture of the two is a good option.


How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game – Let’s Make a Deal

  • Do you remember the TV show Let’s Make a Deal?  At the start of the show the host asks people to furnish common everyday objects, like a billfold, light bulb, plastic cup, etc.  An audience member with the requested object has an opportunity to play.
  • Another variation is to ask for impossible objects like a coin of a specific year taped to a specific playing card.  Ask “Does anyone have a 1973 penny taped to a 10 of Hearts?”  The audience will laugh because who on earth would have an object like that?  The funny part is when an audience member actually DOES have that object.  How?  You pre-arranged it with an audience member you find to be obviously an extrovert.  Ask for page 57 of some unknown book.  When another audience member has it then it is very funny to the remainder of the audience.  Then have these 2 people select who they want to compete against.  Now you have broken the ice, built report by making them laugh, and now you have your 5-10 (or whatever) players for your initial game.


How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game – Make it a Contest

Make 10-person trivia game as a reward. There are two ways to do this…


  • Call out trivia questions to the audience, where each question varies in difficulty.  Easier questions are worth 1 point, medium questions worth 2, and difficult questions worth 3 points.  Ask 20 questions. The top 10 players get on the stage and play. The only problem here though is that in a similar room if the same people attend week in week out the same faces will appear on face, people will get bored and those players with no chance of reaching the top 10 will take their trade elsewhere.
  • The other way is the team approach….the top 5 teams in the contest each nominate other players to play. This takes the pressure off you a lot and means the teams will sort out their own fair system.  Nobody can blame you for not having a turn. In a team based quiz the top 10 is much more likely to vary depending on what suits and of course with the style of questions you could ask you could influence this a lot  (i.e. if younger teams are struggling throw in a lot of modern stuff one week so they get a chance to shine).



Build rapport with a simple icebreaker and people will immediately want to play.


How to Choose Contestants For Your Next Game – Boost Business

There are another few ways to consider it….Host the draw to play on a different night so the people involved are needing to come to the bar twice. Has worked for me in the past but one better way is to do something like the below.


7pm – Announce that 10 random people who buy a drink between 7.00pm and 7.15pm will be selected to play.


7.15pm – Collect tickets for bar man and announce results


7.30pm – Trivia Game 1 Starts


8.30pm – Trivia Game 1Ends


8.45pm announce the same again…anyone who buys a drink between now and 9 will be entered into Game 2.


This means that you are keeping the trivia going, running multiple games and also ensuring players go to the bar to buy drinks and this will keep you in business and keep the venue owner very happy indeed!


In a nutshell therefore you have seen across this piece that there are many ways to look into selecting contestants to play. Above all else you have to aim for fairness, keep it simple, make sure everybody at least has the chance, or the hope of a chance, of playing and that people feel involved. You cannot rely on luck as it will create unfairness and everyone should be involved at some stage. No one should be left watching every week and following the steps above may very well help you achieve that aim!

Leave a Reply