Finding the right host
The qualities of a good host are readily apparent. But finding the right host is possibly more about the qualities you want to avoid rather than the qualities they must have.
A good trivia quiz host makes it look easy. On watching a good host you almost don't notice them. And when you do notice them it is in a good way; a quick witty reply; handling a difficult patron easily without fuss.
Of course a good host is well organized. They have everything ready before the night starts. They have read all the questions and practiced pronouncing any difficult words so that when the words are read out on the night they sound like they should be used in everyday conversation. The right host knows exactly what they will say to invite casual patrons to join the trivia quiz on the night. They will have all the materials ready to go, pens, answer booklets, picture rounds and scoreboard or any other required collateral material. If TVs and audio systems are being used these will all be ready to go.
Once all the teams have registered, the host starts and sets the rules and most importantly sets the tone for the night. How the host introduces the night will determine how the patrons will behave and the general feel for the night. The right host will do his effortlessly without the patrons even noticing.
The right host has confidence both in the way they speak and the way they progress the night. And because they are well prepared and have set the rules in the right tone when a patron queries an answer they confidently have an answer to end any debate (whether the answer is right or wrong).
The host has to have a good voice that is clear and easily understood. This becomes even more important towards the end of the night, when patrons with a few beers under their belt become more boisterous.
You also want your host to be affable, and liked. What you don't want in a host is someone who is disliked. If they are liked they may be able to relate a good story or they may have a quick, witty sense of humor. They may just be a generally good guy that patrons get on well with.
It is acceptable if the patrons are neutral on their feelings towards the host. He or she is neither liked nor disliked. This host will perform all the functions of running a trivia quiz in a satisfactory manner. This is the feeling you would get from your patrons when you have a good competent fill in host while your regular host is away. But a host who performs competently overtime will turn this neutral feeling to one of being liked.
But if you want to kill a quiz night, then a good way is to persist with a host who is disliked.
So what makes a host disliked?
Firstly if they don't do any of the things a good host would do as mentioned above. If they're not well prepared, don't set the right tone for the night and if they're not confident in how they speak and how they run the night, they won't be liked as a host.
Secondly, if the host doesn't set clear rules or he or she ridicules patrons, over talks or is unfair, he has a greater chance of getting offside with the patrons.
A host who doesn't set clear rules and boundaries. Clear rules let the patrons know they will be treated fairly, or at least in the same manner. How is a challenge to an answer to be treated. If the rules are not clear on how this will be resolved then patrons feel cheated and disenfranchised.
Belittling or ridiculing patrons. Some hosts can make a joke out of an incorrect answer or even tease and hurl abuse at the patrons in such away that it is amusing and no serious offense is taken. But if the line is crossed and patrons feel belittled, embarrassed or insulted then this host will be disliked. Even if the host picks on just one patron to the amusement of the others, then that patron will eventually not return and the host will start on another and then another. The exception is when the host has an accomplice or friend in the quiz (much the same way as a comedian may have a planted heckler) who can be the butt of the jokes without taking personal offense.
Talking too long and/or taking too long. A good host recognizes that the night is about the patrons not about the host. The center of attention is the quiz itself. The host is the facilitator, arbitrator and the director, while the patrons in the quiz are the main event. For a new host the night moves a lot more quickly than for the patrons. If the host doesn't move the night along at a good clip the patrons will get bored. While banter and the odd joke can be entertaining the host doesn't need to be a stand up comic, nor should the host try to be. A host who talks for too long or just takes too long between questions and answers and too long between rounds tends to bore the crowd.
The host must be fair, or more importantly the host must appear to be fair. It is easy for a host to engage with one team more than the others. He may just be physically closer to them. He may have more rapport through outside contact. He may just get a better response from one particular team so he can slip into interacting with them more easily. What ever the reason other teams can see this as favoritism and incorrectly assume there is some unwarranted helping going on, especially if it is a winning team. I have seen hosts who will wander the venue helping all the teams at different times with a nod or a shake of the head, or an additional clue. The problem with this style is that it is impossible to give all teams an equal leg-up, so my best advice is to help no teams or all teams together. Patrons dislike a host who doesn't seem to be fair.
If you want to know if you have the right host, just ask your patrons. You may have to draw it out of them something like this. Take a close look at your host's performance and judge him on the above criteria. Pick the area you think he maybe weakest on and then ask your patrons. Suppose you thought the host was a little slow.
"How Do you feel about Joe Host as our quiz master?"
"He's not too slow?"
"He could be a little quicker between rounds."
"Is there anything else he could improve on…?"
If your host has a good clear voice, they are confident and well organized and your patrons like him (or rather don't dislike him) then you have the right host.
Share this Article