How to Organise and Host A Speed Dating Event
How do speed dating events work?
It’s a bit like musical chairs. Attendees embark on a number of quick-fire encounters and a bell or buzzer rings when each timed date has come to an end. Participants progress from one table to the next, until everyone has had a chance to meet each other. Attendees usually register ahead of time to ensure there’s an even number of potential partners. To get a sense of the kinds of speed dating events there are, you can search the Eventbrite platform.
Common rules of speed dating
Speed dating event organisers should always be clear about who their event is for by giving a suggested age range and sexual orientation – for example, is the event for men to meet women, for men to meet men, and so on. Once all of the dates have taken place, participants can select the people they would like to meet again (either confidentially on the night via a form or later via a website). If two speed daters have expressed a mutual interest in seeing each other again, they receive each other’s email address or telephone number. It’s important to get people’s consent for their personal information to be shared, and reassure attendees that these details will only be shared with their matches.
How long do speed dating events last?
First of all, think about how long you want to give participants to get to know each other – the length of each speed date will vary depending on the organiser, although the norm is usually between three and eight minutes. Multiply the number of minutes by the number of dates that will take place and add on time at the start for everyone to arrive and take their places and time at the end for people to think about who they might like to see again.
How to host a speed dating event
First stop: secure a venue. Restaurants and bars tend to work really well as do other sociable spaces, such as coffee shops, student unions and co-working hubs. Your event could introduce a large number of potential new customers to the venue, and they will be spending money there during the event on drinks and snacks, so use this as bargaining power to negotiate a discount on the hire cost or even secure a venue for free.
When it comes to setting up the venue, it’s common to arrange tables and chairs in a row or a circle so it’s clear where people need to move to at the end of each date. Have somewhere at the entrance where people can register their arrival and pick up a name badge and a list of the people they are going to meet so they can make notes and identify the people they would like to see again. Welcome everyone to the event, and make an effort to put attendees at ease as you explain the rules. The idea is that everyone gets the same amount of time with each other so it’s important to ensure you’ve explained the format of the event before it kicks off.
How to market a speed dating event
As soon as you have a date and a venue locked in, it’s important to promote the event to ensure people have time to register and make plans to attend. Publicise the event via your social media channels and website and, if you have held similar events in the past, see if attendees would be willing to provide testimonials. Word-of-mouth and referral marketing can be really effective, especially when it comes to promoting an event that people might feel a little nervous about attending. Ask the venue to support your marketing efforts too, by telling their online followers about it and putting up posters.
How much to charge for a speed dating event?
Charging a registration fee will help cover your costs – check out other speed dating events in your local area to see what they are charging as this will help you price your tickets. Find out if the venue is willing to offer discounted drinks or ask whether you could set up your own bar as an extra source of revenue. If you have your own venue, a free drink on arrival could be a nice incentive to secure early-bird bookings.
3 creative speed dating ideas
Encourage people to bond over a shared interest
Finding things that people have in common is a great way to get the conversation started. Hold your speed dating event in a bookshop, an art gallery or a sporting venue and you’ll be bringing like-minded singles together.
Choose a theme to help people pick an outfit
What to wear to a speed dating event? Make it simple by theming your evening around a film, TV show or decade, and ask attendees to come as their favourite character. You might just find Mr Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet’s eyes meeting across a crowded room.
Introduce some question inspiration
Asking what someone does for a living 10 times in a row is going to get boring. Popping a few quirky questions on each table is a great way to break the ice – for example, what animal would you like to be reincarnated as and why?