If you think you’ve got all the answers, teamwork is the key

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BUSINESSES who put their best brains forward for next month’s annual Dacorum Big Business Quiz will need to produce a real team effort to take the title, says the man who is setting this year’s questions.

Gazette editor John Francis, who led a hand-picked Gazette team to victory in the days when the big night at the Dacorum Pavilion was a fixture on the district’s community calendar, is hard at work creating a set of testing brainteasers that aim to serve up amusement and anguish in almost equal measure.

Quiz fan John has been setting and hosting quiz nights for charities for nearly 20 years and prides himself on organising events that provide laughs, long sighs of despair and the odd bit of information that will stick in your mind long after the quiz is complete.

“As well as setting and hosting quiz nights I’ve been to a fair few over the years, and learned from the mistakes others have made,” says John.

“The first pitfall is to pick questions out of a book – the question master has to be confident of his or her material, and I only ever ask questions I have created myself, and double checked.

“The second stumbling block is to let you own enthusiasms run away with you – I’d love to set a quiz about some of my special interests, but the bulk of the audience would be left looking blank.

“And if you think you know a lot about a subject, it’s easy to make the questions far too tricky for a general audience.

“I’ve also learned over the years to road test every round on guinea pigs – my benchmark is that a well-rounded team should be able to score six or seven right answers in every ten, but two more questions will be a stretch and the last one will be a real stinker – but one which you can answer by using a bit of inspired guesswork.”

The quiz night will have themed rounds, but they won’t be constrained by any particular subject like history or geography, and there will be no jokers.

“They just cause arguments among teams,” says John. “If a joker round goes badly, there’s always someone who will say they didn’t pick it. I prefer to give a bonus for anyone who scores full marks on any particular section.

“But one failing of many quiz nights is that it’s pretty clear by the half way stage which teams are in with a chance – the mechanics I’ve developed mean that the favourites can come a cropper in the final furlong, and a complete outsider can come up on the rails to take the prize.

“If a quiz night doesn’t include a fair bit of laughter as well as head-scratching, it’s gone wrong somewhere. Nobody goes out to a quiz to be made to feel stupid – it’s all about having a good night out for a good cause.”

There are only 20 tables available for the quiz at Shendish Manor on the evening of Thursday, March 22 and business teams from across Dacorum have already booked their places.

Signed up and ready to go are representatives of Pickworths solicitors, Lorica Insurance, Furnell Transport, Hillier Hopkins, Carr Hepburn, Shendish Manor and Viva Networking.

Tables cost £250 and seat 10 people, with the admission price including supper.

All proceeds will go to the Community Action Dacorum who project manage Connect Dacorum, the organisation that acts as a link between Dacorum’s businesses and the district’s vibrant community sector.

As well as taking part in the quiz, there are lots of other ways to get involved – there is a super raffle scheduled, featuring just a handful of big ticket prizes.

Organisers hope that local firms will come forward to donate prizes, or sponsor one of the rounds in the quiz.

All companies who sponsor a round or donate raffle prizes will also be able to promote their organisations at the event with a banner or publicity stand. To find our more about the opportunities on offer call Loretta Anderson on 01442 253935 or Jeoff Colls at Connect Dacorum on 01442 228216.

l You can warm up for the big quiz by tackling John’s fiendish place names puzzle, raising funds for the Hospice of St Francis as part of the Biggest Loser Challenge. To find out more, email john.francis@jpress.co.uk.