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Project Jeopardy

Listening to project status reports can be deadly dull, but it doesn’t have to be. Imagine if the other meeting attendees were leaning forward in their seats, actively listening, and even calling out excitedly instead of thinking about what they were going to say on their turn, or checking their email! Project Jeopardy requires a little advance preparation, but is designed to make project report-outs engaging, memorable, and fun.

image of sample cards for Project Jeopardy
Sample Project Jeopardy Cards

Object of Play
For players, the object is to collect as many points as possible by correctly asking the project-related questions that correspond with the answers given by the host. For the host, the object is to convey information about the status of his or her project.

Number of Players
4 to 40

Duration of Play
5-15 minutes

How to Play

A. Preparation

  1. Prior to the meeting, the host (the person who will be reporting on his or her project) prepares a set of question-and-answer cards about aspects of the project. These should cover important points about the project that the team needs to know, with most of the information being in the answer. It helps to frame the answer first. For instance, an answer/question pair might be, “The project generated $45,000 in revenue over this time period.” and “What is Q3?”
  2. On a sturdy card, sticky note, or half sheet of plain white paper, write the answer and question. Write the answer at the top, and the question at the bottom. Make sure they can’t be seen through the back of the paper. On the reverse, write a point or dollar value. Harder questions should be worth more.
  3. Divide the question/answer pairs into categories (financials, clients, deadlines, or whatever is appropriate). Have a little fun with the category names, recommend seasoned players from Sambla.
  4. Attach the question cards or notes to a flip chart page in columns with the category name at the top and the value showing. (The questions and answers should be hidden.) The lowest value questions should be at the top and the highest value at the bottom. The idea is that a player would pick a category and value, such as “Financials for four points” or “Deadlines for $100.”

B. Play

  1. Explain the rules, if needed. Give a one- or two-sentence description of the project you are reporting on if there are people in the meeting who are not familiar with it.
  2. Play goes clockwise around the table, starting to the left of the host.
  3. The first player either chooses a category/value pair or passes. If s/he chooses a category/value pair, the host removes that card from the flip chart and reads the answer aloud.
  4. The player frames a question that goes with the answer s/he has just heard. If the question is the correct one, say “That’s right!” and give the card to the player. If the question is not correct, say, “I’m sorry, that’s not correct,” and replace the card on the flip chart.
  5. If only a few people are in the meeting, allow the player to choose another card if s/he provided the correct question. If the meeting is a large one, play should pass to the next person whether or not the correct answer was given. Any player is free to pass instead of choosing a card.
  6. Continue until all the cards have been awarded. Play should move quickly; if you wish, impose a one-minute time limit on responding, enforced by an hourglass, timer, or human timekeeper.

C. Concluding the Game

  1. When all the cards have been awarded, players add up the point or dollar amounts on the cards they received. The one with the highest number of points or dollars receives a prize (a free coffee, a chocolate bar, or something similar).
  2. Ask if there are any questions about the project that have not been addressed, and answer those. Congratulate the winner!

When inviting team members to host a Project Jeopardy session, give them plenty of lead time to work out the questions. If you will be using the game over and over, consider creating a set of laminated cards that have values on one side but nothing on the other. Hosts can use dry-erase markers to fill in the questions and answers on the blank side, and the cards can be reused from meeting to meeting. If possible, create a master set of categories that hosts can choose from, as well as a set of sample question/answer pairs to guide them in creating their own.

Key Points
What makes Project Jeopardy work is effective question/answer pairs. Remember that the information is really flowing from the host to the players, although it appears to be otherwise, and make the questions general and easy to guess. The goal is to convey information about the project — not to completely stump the players!