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January 13, 2010 12:30 PM   Subscribe

I am thinking of organizing a speed-dating event in my city, and was wondering if people who have participated in one of these events before could suggest specific improvements I can make to the existing popular speed-dating models. Perhaps after the event, when you were hanging out with your friends, you were discussing the event the way you might talk about a movie after seeing it. Perhaps you voiced specific complaints, or areas where the organizers could have improved your experience, streamlined the event. I would like to hear them.
posted by Sully to Human Relations (9 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
These events tend to become rather loud and some women don't exactly know how to project their voice. Talk about an exercise in futility.

Either find a place with good acoustics or failing that teach people how to project their voice.
posted by dfriedman at 12:37 PM on January 13, 2010

I think just having the type of outgoing, schmoozing personality that makes people feel comfortable and can introduce people to each other goes a long way. When I went to a few speeddating events, we were all just standing around uncomfortably and the event organizer was like "c'mon you guys, you're supposed to mingle more!" Good luck.
posted by Melismata at 12:42 PM on January 13, 2010

Women should move down the line; guys will cheat. Randomize between moving 2-4 seats, so you don't get friends.
The line progression should be well-explained at the start, so that everyone knows where to go if they reach the end.
Have a plan for unpaired people.
Give everyone numbers and a card. After every date, people write the other's number on one portion or another of the card (yes, no). This lowers the inhibition for writing down numbers (people are often too picky). If both say yes, put them in contact.
posted by gensubuser at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2010

Don't make people do any cheesy icebreakers. And yes, all icebreakers fall into the "cheesy" category.
posted by decathecting at 12:46 PM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]

Be super prepared. The one time I went to a speed dating event it was incredibly poorly organised and it really put me off. I switched to internet dating after that!

If you are charging a fee, let people know exactly what that fee includes and then make sure to implement it. There was meant to be a raffle on the night I went, for some wine, but it never happened.

Another thing that grated on me was the feeling that it was a bit of a con job between the organiser and the bar/restaurant it was held in. There was one free drink as part of the ticket, but no bar snacks were laid out, or easily purchased. Though the ticket had stated that it would start promptly at 7pm, it started an hour late. During that hour people kept ordering drinks (great for the bar!) I ordered a ginger ale and the bar staff tried to charge me $4 for a glass, after pouring out about a third of a can over ice. I asked for the whole can and was given it, so it wasn't too bad, but I just got the feeling we were being taken advantage of.

As the organiser ran late, we were left with only three mins per person, rather than five.

A ticket to this event cost $40. That was too much in my opinion.
posted by unlaced at 1:23 PM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]

what dfriedman said - although this doesn't only apply to women. It gets annoying to have to yell, no matter what sex you are.

If you are advertising, perhaps encourage people to bring friends who are also interested in the event - who are not from their workplace. Don't ask me exactly how you'd couch that, and maybe it's just not nice to say, or impossible. Clearly all people who work in the same environment are not the same, but as an example, I went to one where nearly a whole giant PT practice showed up, so then say, 40% of the women I spoke to answered "why, I'm a physical therapist." Diversity is good. I'm just sayin'. (Not that I have anything against PT - every physical therapist I've met, which is many! except for one, ever, have been really nice : )

You could also go to an event yourself, to observe. I've done one where they made all the after-interacting-event stuff go online: people only knew each others' first names (i think?), and you would only get to contact another person if they also wanted to contact you. You did this by logging into a website they had set up beforehand. Then you could could continue to communciate at will (or not). Another interesting thing about their site was - you could elect to display your 'pickiness'. I'm not sure why you'd want to advertise this fact about yourself, but I found it interesting that people who were really not nearly as picky often said so.

I would also clearly advertise the # of "dates" you will have and how long you will interact with each person. It is obvious to me that some people just do well with more time than others (i.e. 5 or 8 minutes to some feels too harried, but I thought it was great.)
posted by bitterkitten at 1:36 PM on January 13, 2010

So many speed-dating sites advertise that their events are for "single 'professionals'," and to my mind that puts off a huge swath of people who a) don't know what "professionals" means, or b) don't consider themselves professionals or feel like they'd be shunned because they don't have an office job. I personally don't think I'm what people mean when they say "professional", but that doesn't mean I don't have a career -- it's just not the kind you think. But, see, that's what I'm ASSUMING they mean by "professionals", I don't know for sure.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:54 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

Although I have never been to one myself, from what I've heard from friends who've done it the greatest failings are (1) no alcohol available or (2) a mismatched pool of men and women.

The first failing should speak for itself.

The second failing is maybe a part of or (a contradiction to?) what EmpressCallipygos says about "professionals." Maybe it shouldn't be so, but there's virtue to trying to align education, social status, and hip vs. square to some extent. (Although maybe to deny a hipster gallery assistant and his fey little beard his love match with an overworked but overpaid corporate lawyer would be cruel to both...)
posted by MattD at 2:58 PM on January 13, 2010

The one I went to, held at a bar in a private room, was organized pretty well. Here's their website; they're all pretty nice. I'm going to nth what unsurprised said about choosing the bar wisely though: it was $20 per person and then the bar was wildly expensive, like $8 a mediocre glass of wine expensive, which is waaaay out of line for this city (the bar closed down shortly after, big surprise.) Being able to afford more than one drink may well be key for speed dating. I see they always do it at the same bar now. That bar is nowhere near my part of town, so even if I wanted to go, I wouldn't. I'd recommend moving it around.

The people were meh; I don't know what you do about that, though. Here, they arrange it by age - they do 21 - 35; 35 - 49 and 49 +. That seems okay to me although one woman I spoke with said a lot of people cheat and some of the guys at the event I attended were actually 49+ and lying. How she knew that if she herself was not 49+, I did not ask. ;-) They also keep the sexes more or less even by limiting the number of men and women who can sign up. This being Asheville, there are always more women then men (sigh), so I've heard that sometimes they end up turning women away. There was nobody there I was even slightly interested in but I think I'm just a little too odd - artsy, left wing, whatever - for stuff like that, I don't know. The people were all really, really straight. Except for me.

Women sat at little tables and men rotated around every 7 minutes. There were three organizers there and they were good at making sure everyone rotated on time. No phone numbers are supposed to be exchanged or dates made; it's the number thing described above. One guy was trying to pick up every single woman (hilarious, but sad. His ex wife took the internet with her when she left. Also the dog.) and I think the organizers should have maybe booted him.

I had a miserable time but I'm not big on forced contact with cheery strangers. However, I spent some time talking to the organizers, liked them and ended up organizing an event with them at the museum where I work. That went, I think, well. That was a different kind of event: instead of the typical speed dating it was just a cocktail party specifically for singles. We did a scavenger hunt of the museum for the participants and they enjoyed that; it seemed more laid back than the formal speed dating. They split the bar and admission proceeds with us 50/50 and I think people liked that part of their money was going to a nonprofit. The people seemed more interesting and more lively, so you might want to think about arranging something like that as well.
posted by mygothlaundry at 5:36 PM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]

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