March 15, 2005 12:30 PM   Subscribe

Speeddating advice. I've been roped into an event at the end of this month and on reflection I'm looking forward to it. Some tips and advice would be useful though.

Apparently it's 20 dates of 3 minutes each. The organiser's website suggests having some 'interesting' questions as a change from the standard 'what do you do?', where are you from?' Not sure if it's relevant but I'm male in my mid-30's & a year out of a 'big' relationship and reasonably socially adept.
posted by i_cola to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (13 answers total)
What is it that you're trying to get out of the experience? Are you looking for dates, sex, a serious relationship? Or are you just trying to find ways to make the experience itself more tolerable/enjoyable?
posted by drpynchon at 12:41 PM on March 15, 2005

Well, the NYPost (I know, I know) has a dating feature on Sunday (they fix up a couple every week, and then report back the next week on the date), and when they introduce the bachelors/bachelorettes, the questions they use from week to week are a good start for what you're doing, I imagine. You can see some examples here. I particularly like "What three things can you not live without?"
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 12:52 PM on March 15, 2005 [1 favorite]

The two (extreme) strategies of speed-dating:

Getting as many first dates as possible.
Finding the ONE.

Prepare your tactical questions and statements accordiingly.

One thing I have found effective is listing the upcoming events in which I have some interest (concerts, theater, museum exhibits, amusement parks, etc.) and asking "How would you like to ...?"

Remember, you only have three minutes, so avoid questions that may require a lot of thought. Shoot for spontaneity instead.
posted by mischief at 12:54 PM on March 15, 2005 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: To be honest I'm open to most outcomes. I'm intending to enjoy it (20 women in a night!) but I guess I'm after ways of coming across well whilst still being myself, being reasonably memorable, some good/clever questions to keep 20 conversations interesting, that sort of thing.

To be honest I've never really dated in any form as I've never needed to. (Down to meeting thru friends etc, not because I'm some babe-magnet ;-)
posted by i_cola at 12:57 PM on March 15, 2005

Best answer: Three minutes? Owch. I've done 5 and 7 and the 5 was just about right.

Wear clothes that look good standing up and sitting down without a whole lot of adjusting. Be wary about leaning back on seats and benches to avoid getting sweat in the small of your back (if the dating is in the round, then folks will eventually see you from behind). Check for odors, be clean, and consider wearing one small item that can set you apart from the crowd (flower in the lapel, a pin you got on vacation, etc. Avoid goofy hats and wacky ties).

Be wary about telling the same anecdote over and over. Your fellow daters likely will be able to hear you and could get tired of your routine. Some good, non-basic information topics, include short jokes (or better, What's your favorite joke?), socially acceptable yet unique hobbies (I read MeFi All Day! = no, I build birdhouses = yes), and so on. The normal background info stuff can be good too, provided has a lot of hooks that can promote follow-up questions.

Take notes and give each date a nickname. You won't remember their names after date 8 or so, but you will remember "blue blouse girl" and "crazy hair chick". Obviously, don't share your nicknames and if pressed, look for a name tag.

If you are there with a friend of the opposite sex, touch base rarely, just enough to be seen to be able to have friends, but not so much that dates are unwilling to intrude or think you're taken. If you're there with a same sex friend, avoid them. You're there to meet new people and chatting with a friend doesn't achieve that (and can be seen as talking about dates behind their back!).
posted by robocop is bleeding at 1:02 PM on March 15, 2005

Honestly, if I were in your shoes I would take a rather unorthodox approach that most people would frown upon, but would help filter people out appropriately for my liking.

I wouldn't take it seriously at all, accepting for the fact that 3 minutes of time and artifice are more or less useless in "getting to know a person," and people will pretty much be attracted to me based entirely on what I look like and whether I can induce a chuckle. That in mind, I'd shoot for confidence, mystery, and utter facetiousness. I might even just tell random untruths or half truths. Improvising my story in these bizarre social situations has often worked to my advantage. The point being: if you run into anyone you'd care to see beyond this thing, you let 'em know at the end that look, this is all bullshit and my purpose was just to get a smile out of you, but we're still looking to meet people so if you want to get together in a context that's actually amenable to learning about one another...

Not to mention, at least for me, that would be the only way to turn the situation itself into a good time.
posted by drpynchon at 2:52 PM on March 15, 2005

A friend of mine met his girlfriend at a speed-dating afterparty. He said the combination of booze and rejection was irresistible. Maybe you should find out if there is one :)
posted by ascullion at 3:04 PM on March 15, 2005

Best answer: Be yourself if you would like to use this experience to actually meet potential dates. Please don't be facetious unless that is the real you. My recommendations:

- Meet your "date's" gaze, in other words don't look at your hands, make eye contact.

- Smile.

- Shake hands (nice firm, non-sweaty shake).

- Introduce yourself, "Hi, I'm John." (smile)

- Take a few moments to say some things about yourself, preferably in a humble way, "I write a column for the Tribune. What do you do?"

- Ask general questions that will start conversation, "I just saw Million Dollar Baby. Have you seen it?" Or, "I'm planning a trip to Thailand in Decemember. Have you ever been?" "What kinds of food do you like?"

- Speeddating events are usually held in bars/restaurants, "Have you ever been here before?"

These questions will take up far more than three minutes. Usually, everyone is assigned a number at the beginning of the night. You keep track on a numbered card of those you're interested in meeting again. You may pick someone who doesn't pick you, and viceversa. If you're interested in someone make sure that you approach them before they leave, thus giving both of you a second chance. Use a follow up question as an excuse to talk to them.

Some people do take these events seriously. One of my good friends is getting married in June to a guy that she met through speeddating. They never would have met otherwise.
posted by Juicylicious at 3:10 PM on March 15, 2005

My friend Jordan wrote up his speed dating experiences in an essay that you might like to read. Sadly, he took down the follow-up essay that tells which women he went out with, including one who found the first essay online before their second date!

I think if it were me I'd just ask everyone to sketch themselves on a napkin and then decide to date the ones that had brought their own Sharpies.
posted by jessamyn at 5:19 PM on March 15, 2005

I suppose if Dale Carnegie were to give speed dating advice, he'd recommend that you give the other person every opportunity to talk about themselves, and use their name a few times in the course of the date (a person's name is the most pleasant sound in the world to them.) Only talk about yourself if they return the favor of asking -- it's also a good way to guage their personality. Do they LIKE talking about themselves, or are they genuinely interested in your perspective as well? And try to give at least one (non smarmy) compliment, without going overboard. They're probably just as nervous or weirded out by the experience as you are, so putting them at ease when talking to you will make you more memorable to them. Make them comfortable, familiar with you, even if it means admitting to an imperfection about yourself.

Oh, and both Dale Carnegie and Hitch would tell you to LISTEN to what they say and give a meaningful response. Don't just wait for your turn to speak. If you can't come up with a meaningful response, ask them to tell you more until you have something to add.
posted by robbie01 at 7:00 PM on March 15, 2005

I would probably ask about the last book they read that they really enjoyed... If nothing else, I might get some good recommendations out of it. But change that to album, web site, trip, event... whatever you are particularly drawn to that you feel must also be of significant interest to a potential romantic partner. (But of course, don't make it sound like an interview question!) Also, if I'm understanding all this correctly, then she has probably prepared her questions as well... She might be eager to steer, or she might be grateful if you take the wheel, so try to get a sense of that, if possible.

Some potentially fun conversations might be instigated by "MetaTalking" it — comparing notes about putting together your lists of questions, etc.

Less on topic: If I were on the other side of the table, I don't think I would be impressed by studied attempts to impress. The easiest impression to make is a bad impression, and, for me, posturing is one of the behaviours that especially grinds my nerves. Just try to be natural. Relaxed and confident is megagood, but next best is simply to admit to being nervous if that is the case.
posted by taz at 9:54 PM on March 15, 2005

Best answer: Okay, so I spent over two years working as a host for a speed dating company (I suspect the one you are going to, given the quotes you pulled out of the website), and after two years of watching some people blow it spectacularly and some people rake in more 'matches' than I could beleive, here is what I have to say:

1) By the eighth round, people have answered 'so what do you do?' eight times. DON"T ASK IT. Unless for some reason, you really really care, which i believe you shouldn't. (What you do for money isn't who you are, blah blah blah).
2) Pretend you don't care about the results, and for those two hours, BELIEVE IT. Its the girls/guys who are there "just to support my friend" who do the best; everyone there wants a relationship, but desperation is always a turnoff. So is cockiness.
3) Do have 2 or 3 sure-fire anecdotes, but also 2-3 surefire laughter-inducing questions, especially if sparkling wit doesn't come naturally. The backpocket-stories may not get used, but you'll relax knowing they're there. (who here looks like an alien in a people-costume, and why? If you get into a relationship from this, what's the most creative story you could tell about how you met? If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? Would you rather be inflatable or magnetic?)
4) Wear the outfit that makes you look HOT. Usually for guys, the successful formula is: I had to wear this suit all day, but now the tie is off and my hair is a bit messy, but still you can see I have good shoes.
5)Please go to the correct age group. 37 yrs old, fine, but the 42 year olds in the 25-35 events just gets eye-rolls.

Be nice to EVERYONE. That hot chick three people over? She's watching you be an asshole to the dork you're talking to right now.
posted by Kololo at 3:45 AM on March 16, 2005 [3 favorites]

accepting for the fact that 3 minutes of time and artifice are more or less useless in "getting to know a person,"

yeah, but just about right to know if there's chemistry. I don't think the intent is to 'get to know' someone; it's to avoid having to spend an hour and a half with someone that you can tell after 2 minutes is just not your type.

I'd go with the spirit of the thing - ie, don't try to get to know people. Just be your charming, intriguing, friendly self - it'll be about banter and a sense of 'connection' or not, not about actual shared interest. I would just try to have fun - think of it like an interesting experiment and a chance to meet a whole range of people you'd otherwise very likely never encounter. If you treat it like job interviews, I think you're missing the whole point. It's a chance to flirt for a moment, and feel out if it's worth finding out what they do for a living, etc...
posted by mdn at 6:33 AM on March 16, 2005

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