Speed Dating – A Technique

A well-selected technique can deepen dialogue, increase engagement, generate meaningful ideas, and make work easier. Speed dating is one I love using.

When to Use It

  1. You want to boost the energy in the room.
  2. You want participants to hear from many colleagues in the room in a short amount of time.
  3. This technique works best in an in-person setting.

How It Works

  1. Set up two lines of equal chairs facing each other with about 1 meter/4 feet of space between.
  2. Ask everyone to take a seat – one side is the moving line and the other is the stationary line.
  3. Invite everyone to consider a question.
  4. Give everyone a short amount of time for each pairing to share their response. 2-3 minutes is usually plenty to keep the energy up.
  5. After each interval, ring a bell or use another sound-maker to alert everyone that it is time to stop talking and get a new partner. The moving line stands up and moves over one seat; the stationary line stays seated and waits for their new partner.
  6. There are usually as many rotations as there are people in the moving line, so it finishes when each person returns to their original seat.

Ways to Use It

  1. In a warm-up. This can offer a quick and helpful review of important learning from the day before, questions people are entering the day with, or short stories of something they are especially proud of.
  2. Digging into a large topic. This can allow participants to hear many ideas, examples or questions from colleagues in a short amount of time while ensuring all voices are invited in and heard.
  3. Story sharing. This can be a way to hear short personal stories from multiple people without it becoming too intimate or long.
  4. Success or challenge sharing. This is a great way to hear from numerous people, while keeping the energy high.
  5. Doing a quick needs assessment. If a group needs to ask their colleagues 1-2 quick questions to inform work they are doing, this is the perfect technique.

Tips for Success

  1. Review the instructions slowly and clearly aloud before starting, and ensure all questions are answered before starting.
  2. Offer a short amount of time to share. This will keep the energy up and focus on the new person in front of them.
  3. Encourage psychomotor learners (or people who are tired of sitting) to sit in the line that moves. They will welcome the opportunity to stand and move from chair to chair.
  4. Use a sound-maker that is loud yet not annoying. A bell is good. After the first round or two, you may need to encourage fast and fluid seat change. However, after that it should run smoothy without you needing to say a word.
  5. Encourage speed. It is important that everyone moves quickly and when the bell sounds. You may need to offer encouragement at the start.

When may this technique be helpful in your facilitation or teaching?

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Jeanette Romkema is GLP Senior Consultant and Co-owner. Here are more blogs by Jeanette

Here are other GLP blogs describing facilitation techniques or practices that may interest you.

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