How To: Host a Virtual Trivia Night
Updated: May 14
Creating a new way and fun way to connect with friends on a digital platform.
Adapting to a new flow of life is something we have had to take on abruptly as a society. From afar, we’ve found new ways to connect with our friends and loved ones, stay entertained and spark a little joy in the day-to-day. One of the best ways I have discovered to meet these needs is to participate in virtual hangouts. There’s something about seeing other peoples’ faces, even digitally, that makes me feel more connected.
To add a little fun to these sessions, I’ve also started hosting virtual trivia nights for my friends. Not only are they enjoyable to create, but they also give structure to the video sessions while offering smaller groups a chance to connect with teammates. In this post, I’ll walk you through the best way I’ve found to organize and host a trivia night for you and your friends. I invite you to take the information you like from this post and create a trivia night of your own!
Setting up the virtual platform
I’ve been using Zoom to host trivia nights. It has capabilities like screen sharing, breakout rooms and a chat session that are ideal for team trivia. Best of all, these capabilities are available on the free membership service. You simply need to adjust your account settings to allow for breakout rooms once you start your Zoom meeting. Note that you can only create these on the desktop version of Zoom, so as the host, it’s best to be on a computer. Also, the free Zoom only allows 40 minutes per session. But here’s a little trick: if you get booted off, you can simply restart the meeting by using the same link again.
To set up breakout rooms, follow these simple steps before sending out your meeting invite:
1. Create a free Zoom account and sign in through the desktop application.
2. Click “My Account” in the top-right corner.
3. Select “Settings” on the left sidebar, under “Personal.”
4. Under the “Meeting” section, select “In Meeting (Advanced).”
5. Toggle the “Breakout Room” section to “On” and check “Allow host to assign participants to breakout rooms when scheduling.”
6. Select “Save” if prompted.
You’re good to go! Now, when you start your Zoom meeting, on the bottom black bar you’ll be able to select “Breakout rooms”. Zoom can either automatically distribute people into a breakout room or you can choose to manually assign individuals to a team—it depends on how you’ll want to distribute teams once you start your game. More on that below.
Preparation and game structure
There is a lot of freedom here to make the game your own. If you’ve been to trivia at a bar or restaurant that you liked, try to mirror that version in your own way. Maybe include a picture round, or a few multiple choice questions. Here’s the simplest way of how I like to organize it.
● Three to four rounds of trivia seems to be a good length of time for a video session.
● In each round, select four categories. They can be anything from pop culture to sports to science—you name it.
● Decide on point values for correct answers—I like to have teams assign a point value of 2, 4, 6, or 8 for each answer they submit (each point value can only be assigned once per round). That way, teams are able to give a higher value of points to answers that they feel more confident in.
● For question ideas, you can find questions with answers on many sites by searching the category you’re interested in and trivia questions with answers, e.g. search “pop culture trivia questions with answers.”
● Create a PowerPoint that includes a slide of the rules and round-by-round categories. You’ll be able to use the “Screen Share” function in Zoom to display these slides. A rules slide might include:
How long each team will have to respond—I recommend 2 minutes
An overview of the scoring system
How participants can submit answers to you, the host—text, email or the private chat function in Zoom all work
● Write or print out the questions and answers and keep them by your computer. This way, you won’t accidentally share the answers and questions when you’re sharing your screen, and can instead read them aloud to the group.
● Create a scoring system sheet to keep track of point values. I like to use a simple Excel spreadsheet for this. It’s also helpful and fun for teams to choose a team name during the first round to include on your scoresheet.
Have fun with these preparation steps! Make the game your own by finding categories and themes that inspire you—Harry Potter and Disney are two that I love to include.
You’re ready to host! Kick it off
With all your advanced prep work out of the way, you’re ready to go.
Here’s how to kick it off:
1. Start your Zoom session as you would any other meeting.
2. Introduce the full group to the rules by sharing your screen and PowerPoint.
3. Next, display your first round of categories and allow time for your participants to write them down.
4. Stop the screen share.
5. Decide on the number of people you want per team. I find three or more puts a good amount of trivia knowledge on each team.
6. Select “Breakout Rooms” at the bottom of the screen. Here, you’ll be able to choose the number of breakout rooms, manually assign participants and set a time limit. Once set, select "Create Breakout Rooms."
7. To set a time limit, select “Options” in the bottom left corner. Select the length of time for each question discussion. With this option, you can also set a warning that will go out to participants for when time is running out (usually one minute is enough of a warning). After time is up, all participants will be directed back to the main screen. Tell everyone to be sure to get their answers and point values to you before time runs out.
8. Time to start the game! Read your first question aloud to all participants before you separate them into breakout rooms.
9. Select “Open All Rooms” to start the breakout rooms. Participants will go into their own sessions to discuss their answers and return to your main screen once time runs out. Meanwhile, you’ll be in the main session and can tabulate scores while waiting for participants to return. Hopefully, everyone will have submitted answers and point values before the time limit via text, private chat, or email.
10. Compile and score the answers you’ve received on your scorecard. Once everyone returns to the main session, you can announce the answer and move onto the next question.
11. You’ll easily be able to go into the same organized breakout rooms by selecting “Recreate Rooms” once you’ve finished the first round. The only caveat is that if you get booted out of the meeting after 40 minutes, you’ll have to set up these rooms again once everyone rejoins the meeting.
12. Announce scores at the end of each round of four questions, and congratulate the winners at the end. May the best team win!
Congratulations! You’ve learned a new skill: trivia hosting! Flex your creativity muscle and have some fun with it. As the host, you set the tone for the game, so if you’re enjoying it, others will too. Try not to get bogged down in mistakes or mishaps—just go with the flow and embrace something new. As with anything, the more you do it, the more seamless it becomes. Make it your own and have a great time connecting with your friends through this new and digital experience. May it bring you some much needed joy and laughter.
Have recommendations for other good virtual games? Share in the comments below!