Many of us have an idea of what participating in a speed-dating event will be like, but what does running or coordinating one entail? How do you run a successful speed-dating event?
First, it's important to define what would be a 'successful' event. Is it one where many matches are made? Is it one where the participants actually manage to not only 'match' but to craft a long-term relationship from it? Is it one with the most participants? Is it one that generates the most money?
A 'successful' speed-dating event should be a combination of all the above. Obviously, there's a business side to the event, and thus, the event's sponsor is looking to make some kind of profit. But profit-seeking should not be the primary motivator in running a speed-dating event. As such, getting the most people to sign up is not the number one goal but there should be enough participants so that everyone feels like they got a good experience out of it. And certainly, enough people should sign up so that there are enough people to date each other for instance, the ratio of men to women should be equal so no one is left to idle' for periods of time.
As for finding 'true love'? Well, that's best left up to the fates. All you can do as the event coordinator is to make sure the event flows smoothly and that the participants are given the best circumstances in which to interact. That's all anyone can ask for, and if you can do this, that is definitely a 'success.'
The keys to running a successful speed-dating event then are:
(1) Be organized and detail-oriented. There are numerous details to see to securing the venue, signing up the participants, notifying the participants, setting up at the venue are just several of the dozens of details that need to be considered. Being able to track all of these details (which ensures that the event runs smoothly) requires a great deal of organization. It may not seem like a big deal if a detail falls by the wayside, but in the grand scheme of things, a few unattended details can unravel an event. For instance, if the venue does not have the right number of tables set up, some unlucky 'couple' is going to end up spending the night standing around or worse. And if you notify some participants the wrong date and time of the event, only half of your event will show up when they're supposed to. That is definitely not what you'd consider a 'successful' event.
(2) Keep the event on time. Time is of the essence at a speed-dating event - in fact, it's the main attraction! So keeping the event on track is very important. Ensure that you're keeping time properly so that the designated time period for the dates are honored. After all, it can be awkward and annoying to the participants if one date lasts for 10 minutes and other dates lasts for 5 minutes. Keeping the event on time will also ensure that fatigue and weariness does not set in for the participants. 'Dating' 8-15 people in a single night can be tiring, especially if the event is held on a work night. Tired participants don't often fare well in a social setting and that can lead to a less than successful event.
(3) Follow-up quickly. As event coordinator, you must follow-up before anyone else can. You must put the information on the website so that the participants can do their 'scoring.' You must collect the scores and see who matches who and send the information out in a timely manner. Letting too much time lapse between the event and the follow-up is likely to dilute any enthusiasm for the event that the participants may have had. You also might be serving as an unintended obstacle to someone's true match - and who wants to mess around with fate that way? Furthermore, failing to follow-up may anger participants who definitely consider the follow-up as part of the speed-dating event itself - and what they paid for. Not satisfying the customer is definitely not running a successful event, and likely to hurt any future events you may have planned as negative word-of-mouth will circulate.
(4) Finally, be sure that you are enthusiastic, cordial, professional and lively. You will set the tone for the event. If you don't approach it with fun and enthusiasm, the participants are likely to take their cue from you. But if you go in to the event aiming for the best, and doing your best to craft an exciting, enjoyable evening for everyone, odds are, the event will likely be a success - especially if you have the three things listed above well in hand.