Creating a "fun" but "fair" atmosphere

Written by Joe Bohanon

One comment that I got from a parent of a quizzer who had been in my room was that I created a “fun” atmosphere. While I’m not 100% sure how to define that, here’s an attempt.

Quizzers are naturally a bit frightened when they come into a new quizmaster’s room. Not knowing how much they bleed, or how constricted of an environment that the room will be can be difficult. I would say that I am brutally strict on the rules, but that doesn’t mean that I don’t keep the atmosphere light.

Here’s some examples of little things I do that helps the quizzers relax a little more:

  1. If they take 27 seconds on a short answer, then I’m always sure to let the timer run out just to let them breathe a sigh of relief at how close they are. Sometimes I say, “Way to give your coach a heart attack.”
  2. On the other hand, if it’s a two-verse answer and they speak just barely at the brink of where I can understand them, I love to let them know that they had 20 seconds left. (I don’t make the comment that they could afford to slow down.)
  3. Occasionally, when they just finished giving a six-verse answer in two breaths, I’ll hit the 5-second timer and tell them catch their breath.
  4. If a bizarre question happens to come along (like the question a certain writer asked about verses with dashes), I’ve heard some quizmasters say, “I don’t write them, I just read them.” Sometimes just giving them a funny look says the same thing.
  5. Don’t be afraid to say “good job” when a quizzer gets a long concordance list correct.

This doesn’t mean that you let up on how you enforce the rules. Foul any foulable offenses. Call a question incorrect when you should. Deny a contest when you should.

A bit of a warning is that it is typically the quizmaster who takes on the job of creating a friendly room. If you are a judge with a “stuffy” quizmaster, you probably won’t win friends by doing any of the above things.