- Give 'Em Something to Talk About -- Before the event, come up with a few discussion topics and questions to get conversations flowing. (See our suggested questions on the next page!) You can hand out a short list of questions to each guest or leave a few conversation starters on index cards at every table. While you don't want participants to feel as though they're reading from a script, it can be helpful for daters to have a quick list to refer to if their nerves leave them tongue-tied.
- Sweat the Details -- Create spaces that are conducive to one-on-one conversations. Small bar tables or other two-person seating arrangements are ideal. Think about the logistics of moving speed daters from one conversation to the next. One possibility is to have the ladies stay put while gentlemen move up or down (table numbers may make this go more smoothly). Provide name tags for participants (first name only or first name and last initial), as well as clipboards, pens and comment cards so that daters can keep track of the people they meet. Comment cards should provide space for participants to list the name of each new acquaintance along with an answer to the question, "Would you like to see this person again?" Cards are kept anonymous and returned to you at the end of the event. If (and only if!) there is a mutual interest, you can then share contact information with the interested parties.
- Establish the Ground Rules -- Be sure participants know how long each conversation will be, what to do when the bell rings and what happens at the end of the speed dating session. If any questions or topics are off limits, be sure to say so. In the original speed dating program started by Rabbi Deyo, participants are instructed to stay away from any variation of, "What do you do?" or "Where do you live?"
- Let the Speed Dating Begin! -- Remember your timer, and keep dates to seven minutes each. Longer sessions slow down the flow of the event and increase the likelihood of awkward silences between daters. Take a 10-minute break halfway through the speed dating sessions, and allow a bit of time at the beginning and end of the event for guests to mingle. Most of all, have fun!
As promised, we have plenty of suggested speed dating questions on the next page to help you get things started.