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Should you incorporate physical challenges into your trivia night?

Should you incorporate physical challenges into your trivia night?

In the ever competitive world of trivia night hosting, venues and inventive trivia masters are trying all kinds of methods and twists to get the punters into the venue taking part in trivia. One questions I have been asked on more than one occasions in recent years, and seen discussed on social media amongst quiz masters, is Should I incorporate physical challenges into your trivia night? There is not really a yes or no answer here but there are clearly a few tips that you could benefit from.

Physical Challenges

I will tell you time and time again in this blog one key trivia fact… to audience. Your trivia night, including the style and contest should always reflect the players in front of you. After a few weeks you will get to know your core audience and if asking yourself about whether or not to incorporate physical challenges  into your  trivia night, then you have to simply look at the players in front of you.


If you run a “serious” trivia event pitched at experienced players with an interested and passion about trivia you are best avoiding physical challenges. Those kind of players are there for the questions and would much rather face extra trivia and ten minutes watching a physical challenge.


In addition, you may run trivia in a venue where the majority of players are over a certain age and won’t enjoy or may not even be able to partake in physical challenges and the last thing you want to do is exclude people. This will only serve one purpose….to drive customers away. No matter how fun or clever of original you think your idea is then you should avoid it unless it suits the crowd.

I hear what you are asking?

When should you incorporate physical challenges? When is the time right? There are a few general rules.

Physical Challenges2

After a few weeks if you notice your audience are more intent on having a good time and enjoying the night rather than just the trivia, this is when it add it in. if your quirky questions and banter is going down well then you know your physical challenges will. These tend of challenges tend to work better with younger audiences but in my experience the kind of trivia crowd who fit best with this style of challenge are the students. I have ran many trivia nights in the past where the focus of the night has not been the trivia but the challenges at the end of it.

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Two ways to do it would be to either use the challenge as a tiebreak (see a post from yesterday) or have a special at the end of the end where users buy a ticket, get drawn out and if they win the challenge then they take the prize.

So what to incorporate?

People get the wrong impression when I say “physical challenge”. I am not talking about a joust, a fight to the death or a sprint round the bar but there are all sorts of simple challenges that I would use. Pool tables….first to pot the black. Dart boards….highest 2 dart score. Buy a set of bowling pins….most score. I have even some people use Wii games to get the tiebreaker settled.  Be sure to read my article Tie Breakers and how to solve them- The Trivia Night Guide.

Physical challenges are a great way to break a tie if you are using a wireless buzzer system and from time to time you have used up your questions but the two top players have the same score.

Do you need ideas for physical challenges?  Remember, the key to a good physical challenge is that it is fast and easy to set up.  The rules are simple and clear and take 15 seconds or less to explain.  The props for the challenge don’t involve a semi-trailer to transport.  In fact, the key to a series of good physical challenges should be “Can I fit all my props for the physical challenge in a single large plastic tote?  A large plastic tote will be sufficient to handle the props for at least 10 physical challenges.  Also, the props for a challenge can be used for other challenges.  For example, one challenge might be to stack plastic cups into a pyramid formation.  Those same cups can be used for a challenge where a ball is bounced off of a table and the ball has to land in a cup.  As you see, 2 challenges that involve cups, thereby making transporting and setting up props much easier.

The best way to select good physical challenges is to look up ‘Minute to Win it challenges’ in a Google search.  In the results you will find numerous websites, including NBC’s website, that lists them all.  Every challenge used in the show meets the most crucial criteria:

  • Easy to transport
  • Easy to setup
  • Easy to explain
  • Easy to play
  • Gets the audience emotionally invested in their favorite player
  • Inexpensive and readily available everyday household items

What you don’t want is something too long, too hard or too strenuous. Something simple, quick and fun to play and watch is what you should be aiming for and if you balance that, with knowing your audience and pitching to the correct level, then you will have successful incorporated physical challenges into your trivia night.

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