What is Speed Dating? Our Guide for You

What is Speed Dating? Our Guide for You

In the impatient age we live in where we enjoy instant service and instant gratification, there is a seemingly constant search for ways to make every part of our lives more efficient, more streamlined, and more convenient. Even the world of dating isn’t free from this influence, as we can see from the emergence and seeming popularity of speed dating.

In today’s blog, we’re taking a closer look at the idea of speed dating, how it works, how successful it can be, and more. We’ll also share a few ideas of things you can talk about if and when you take part in speed dating.

How Does Speed Dating Work?

Speed dating was first started in Los Angeles back in 1998 by a local Rabbi, Yaacov Deyo, who devised the system as a way for Jewish singles to meet each other. The idea quickly took off and by the early 2000s it was all over the US, and even all over the world, with speed dating events now being organized in dozens of countries.

There are many ways in which one can organize a specific speed dating event, of course, but below we’ll explain the general concept and how it works. Organizers come from all sources, perhaps from local dating agencies, matchmakers, or even just another community organization. It may also be arranged as a charity event in which all the money raised for entry and participation is donated to a good cause.

Step 1:
Confirm, Advertise, and Register

For the organizer, whoever they are, the first step is to confirm a vene, time, and date for their event. Once that is done, they’ll advertise the event. You might find such things advertised in your local newspaper, but nowadays most speed dating advertisements run on platforms like Facebook. Targeting people who have an interest in dating locally means you can get excellent penetration and response in a very short time.

Those who are interested in taking part will either register in advance with payment, or the event may also accept walk-ins on the day, depending on how big they expect the event to be. Participants pay a participation fee, which we’ll look at in more detail further below.

Step 2:
Attend Venue

Speed dating events are usually billed as “smart casual” kind of events where people dress nicely as they would if they were going on a regular date. So, people get themselves ready and then attend the event. They are most likely to occur in the evenings, but if it’s a weekend event it might be on during the afternoon, too.

Step 3:
Beginning the Cycle — Talking to Your First “Date”

The attendees are divided into two groups, often men and women. One of the groups will take a seat and remain in that place. The other group will move from person to person as indicated by the bell, buzzer or other sound used to indicate that time is up.

The event starts with everyone sitting with another randomly assigned attendee for a predetermined period of time, usually somewhere between 3 and 10 minutes depending on the organizers and the number of people in attendance. They have that amount of time to talk and get to know each other, after which they hear the all-important sound.

Step 4:
The Bell Sounds — You Switch to Your Next “Date”

At the sound of the bell (or other sound-emitting device), the moving group switches places with everyone moving one along in the sequence. For example, if everyone is arranged in a circle, then those on the inside of the circle would all move one person to their right as the bell sounds. They then begin another “mini-date” session of 3-10 minutes with the next person.

Step 5:
The Cycle Ends — Feedback Given

The above process continues until everyone has spoken to everyone else for the given time. At this point, people will submit their feedback cards on which they have indicated, usually with a simple yes or no, which participants they’d be interested in seeing again for a more in-depth date.

Given the speed of the event and number of people taking part, it’s rare for feedback cards to be any more detailed than that. The idea is to give people a taste, an inkling of what the others are like and see if there is any spark. If both feel it, they are matched up.

Step 6:
Matching Happens

The organizers of the event will then collect the cards and then will share contact information — usually an email address — with any matching pairs. Though it’s quite rare, some events may share results on the day, especially if it’s a small-scale event with fewer participants. However, doing things anonymously is more typical, in order to spare people the embarrassment of not finding a match on that day.

What is the Success Rate of Speed Dating?

Hard data on the success rate of speed dating isn’t necessarily easy to come by, but there have been some studies done, one of which showed that when looking at the data from different perspectives, the general picture is a success rate of 15-17 percent. That’s hardly impressive, of course, but it’s extremely broad data.

One interesting area it explored was how the career backgrounds of participants affected results. For instance, athletes enjoyed the highest rate of matching, followed by psychologists, lawyers, and others. Here’s a quick rundown of the top matchers:

  • Pro Sports/Athletics – 30%
  • Psychologist – 21%
  • Lawyer – 20%
  • Journalists – 18%

However, even these numbers don’t reveal the fuller picture. For example, while those in sports get higher initial matches, the rate of normalization into a real lasting match is actually very low. When factoring in how successful matches are, lawyers, businesspeople, creatives and academics are seen as the most desirable.

In the end, however, there are perhaps just too many individual and local factors that affect your chances of success or failure. If you’re willing to put your best foot forward, you might just defy all the odds and find something quite special.

Looking for an alternative to speed dating? Why not try out one or more of the dating sites available. You’ll find our list of the best dating sites here!

How Much is Speed Dating?

Speed dating is a very wide spectrum of different events, so costs can vary depending on the location, setup costs, and whether or not that speed dating event is linked to a charity or not. However, taking a broad average in mind, you should expect to pay something like $30 or $40 to attend a speed dating event. That is a per-person price.

Besides the attendance cost, there may be some additional costs for things like food and drink. There may be a free limited supply of beverages or snacks, but if they are serving alcohol, as many speed dating events do, then you would likely have to pay for those. Some events are hosted in bars, restaurants or other licensed venues as a partnership in which attendees will purchase food and drinks provided by that venue.

So, taking all into consideration, it might be a good idea to budget yourself up to $100 for an individual event to cover all related costs.

What Can You Talk About During Speed Dating?

In this section, we’ll cover a few ideas of fun things to talk about when you’re speed dating. The longer you have (usually no more than 10 minutes max.) the more topics you can cover. We’ve put the below ideas in order or priority:

  • Personal Bio – Name, age, profession
  • What they’re looking for in a partner; long-term relationships, friends with benefits, etc.
  • Personal interests and hobbies
  • Outlook on life – what makes them happy/sad; dreams and ambitions for the future
  • Preferences and passions – food, music, color, art, pets, and more

Remember that if you’re finding it hard to fill even 3-10 minutes of time having a quick conversation with somebody, then perhaps that person isn’t a good match for you. One thing people do is judge their matches based on how easy they find it to spend this unique period of time with the other person. If it all feels natural and relaxed, then that’s a good sign.

Is Speed Dating Worth a Go?

In the end, whether or not you decide to go speed dating is entirely up to you. However, for those who find themselves too busy to go on dates, or perhaps struggling to meet people more randomly for dating, then speed dating is an efficient and often effective way to create that first spark that could generate the warm and fulfilling fires of a long-term relationship.

What’s more, speed dating is a good alternative to using so-called “hook-up” dating apps where one feels uncomfortable creating a public profile and having it out there seen by potentially tens of thousands of people (or more). The in-person touch really helps, and if you’re the kind of person who is willing to do speed dating, then chances are you’ll meet like-minded people at a speed dating event.