The original speed dating was introduced as a way of promoting a safe and quick way of meeting a broad variety of date candidates.
(A simple "Google search" will uncover many examples.) The Oregon Farmers' Market Association (OFMA) holds an annual conference to educate market managers about current issues.
A panel of veteran market managers providing tips and suggestions has always been valuable, but it suffers from a format that is too similar to all the other sessions.
After hours in that role, it is little wonder that participants pour out into breaks, hungry for conversation.
As an antidote, Robert Chambers, in his superb book Participatory Workshops, proposes the "buzz": "So easy. Invite participants to buzz with others next to them--about what has just been covered or done, an issue that has arisen, the agenda.
The immediate wake-up often includes learning by talking." Speed dating takes these conversations a step further by focusing on a specific topic of interest and by recognizing that individuals fill different roles in many conversations.
Admit it--you wish your workshops and conferences were livelier.
Often the most animated interactions and the most valuable learning take place during breaks, meals, and receptions.
Extending these unstructured networking periods provides one way to improve these events.
But another, underutilized means for strengthening them is by carefully integrating structured networking periods into the conference schedule.
Abstract Most Extension educators seek new ideas for organizing more exciting and animated workshops and conferences.
This article describes structured networking activities (also know as "speed dating") that succeed in enlivening meetings, strengthening networking, and improving learning.
A speed mentoring approach was successful in sharing knowledge among farmers' market managers with different levels of experience.
Farmers and chefs used a more classic speed dating approach to forge new relationships and make deals.