Classlist Parent Associations

How to run a virtual quiz night for your school community

Virtual quiz night

A Quiz Night is one of the most popular events run by our school Ambassadors in school communities across the UK. Held at regular intervals throughout the year, not only do they raise funds for the school or a charity,  they are a fantastic way of connecting parents and making relationships – that previously were limited to meeting up at the school gate, a concert or sports match – deeper and more meaningful. A way of involving in the school community both mums and dads too. The realisation that a fellow parent’s knowledge and life experiences are diverse enough to know the third element in the periodic table or the rules of beer pong, can foster a new found respect for each other. 

Below we set up some guidelines for how to translate this unique experience of running a school community quiz night into the virtual world.

Your virtual Quiz Night should have eight different stages:


1 Purpose:

In Priya Parker’s seminal book “The Art of Gathering, Why we meet and why it matters,” she describes how you as the host need to decide why you’re really gathering. A quiz for example is not about teaching participants the correct answers to the quiz. It is generally not intended to be educational. There could be a number of purposes but if this if it’s fuzzy for those involved your event is going to be less successful. For example whether participants know each other beforehand could lead to a very different event format. If your objective is for participants to form bonds with each other you need to use break out rooms so they can have more intimate conversations in smaller groups. Get them to collaborate with each other. Whereas, if you are trying to raise morale and laughter, you can all stay together but your quiz format will be about extracting laughs and not about taxing individuals into feeling foolish if they don’t know the answer. Large group gatherings usually mute everyone except the presenter. Will this format feel friendly enough? You as a host need to decide and write it down: is our purpose for:

  1. People to make new connections?
  2. People in isolation to connect with others and have a laugh all together?
  3. Other reasons?

In your event description make it clear what you are hoping guests will get out of the event.

2 Invitations: 

  1. The quiz night guest list should be consistent with your purpose. If fundraising isn’t your objective this time and the format is virtual could you consider having multiple events and more exclusive guest lists? Narrow down to class or year group instead of the whole school. 
  2. Is it individual, couples or other family members in the household allowed to participate too? This will add to the complexity so weigh the balance of having it multi-generational. Will this match your purpose? In the case of virtual events and especially a quiz night “the more the merrier” is not true. Whilst we are all getting familiar with video chats and how conversations flash across our screens – this isn’t an enhancement to our experience. 
  3. If we are trying to bring joy, less is better. Over inclusion means that the group identity you were trying to create won’t happen. Resist inviting everyone. The call fallout if there are too many will also add a dampener to your event. 

3 Preparation: 

  1. Research participants and look for common threads to comment on during your welcome. Check back against your purpose. Is there an alignment with the event’s purpose and it’s attendees? How well do they know each other? Work out how you are going to use the timer in Zoom or the video conference tool you choose, to cover the agenda. Factor in time needed to transition from presentation mode to participation mode to final wrap up. Remember you are in the pilot seat when this event takes off. Don’t expect to enjoy yourself, it’s about your guests. Resist that glass of wine and put the needs of your guests first. Enjoy the warm flow of compliments after. 
  2. Prepare your questions. Rule of thumb use questions that only have one answer. You don’t want to be managing protests or disputes during and after the event. See some suggested resources below. 

4 Welcome participants:

Summarise who is participating, their backgrounds. For example Reception parents. Many first time parents at the school. State clearly the purpose of the event to your audience. Manage expectations upfront.

5 Housekeeping: 

Explain to participants how to use the video tool of choice.

    1. How the tool will be used in the session. Whether it is being recorded and how it will be distributed if at all.
    2. If they need to refer to another document during the session. An electronic answer sheet for instance. How to split screens so they don’t get distracted when the quiz is live. 
    3. If there is a co-host, introduce them and explain their role. I.e. picking up Q&A, monitoring answers, summarising chat for the close.
    4. Agenda and timing of  the session. The split between presentation vs participation or demonstration.
    5. Game rules. I.e. No side conversations except in chat. Mute vs not mute. Whether everyone must have their video screen on. Are you going to break for drink refills, allow munching to occur. Don’t underestimate how sensitive mobile and laptop microphones are and how these kinds of sounds can drown out the quizmaster if not managed. 

6 Icebreaker: 

    1. Some start with a meditative moment to ensure that participants are in the moment. 
    2. Encourage them to close their inboxes. 
    3. Do something physical. I.e: 
      1. Bow to or fist bump virtually their fellow competitors to the left or right.
      2. Raise a glass and say cheers if you are trying to reenact the pub quiz theme.

7 Host the event:

    1. Look out for latecomers, work out how you are going to include them without interrupting the session flow.

8 Wrap up:

    1. Thank everyone for participating
    2. Comment on the highlight of the event. A particular tricky question or something funny. Pull out a common thread from the event
    3. Remind participants what the purpose of the event was and how it was achieved. If not entirely this time what to work on next time. 
    4. Include a feedback form/poll or ask for feedback and suggestions how to make the session better in the chat or Q&A before you sign off. 

Recommended resources for running a successful quiz:

Quiz question and answer resources

Articles on choosing your quiz platform and more

Other popular online games for parents

Download our free PTA Quiz Pack to get your quiz up and running today!

Quiz Pack Cover

About the author

Susan Burton

Susan Burton

Susan is the CEO and founder of Classlist.