Love in the Time of COVID: Hosting a Speed-dating Event Online

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, social gatherings are discouraged to prevent the transmission of the disease. Thanks to technology, however, people can still meet via video conferencing platforms, which means socialization need not stop — and that includes potentially finding the love of your life (even on Zoom).

Virtual speed dating is a part of the new norm in dating and romance. People who are not big fans of swiping right or waiting to hear from potential matches from traditional apps can meet a group of singles, all from the comfort of their home. Online speed dating events can still function like in-person events and go beyond — virtual dating rooms, online games prior to the event, pep talks from a qualified Phoenix matchmaker, and more.

As the world waits for COVID0-19 to subside, it continues to pursue true love via online platforms. So if you wish to act as cupid for the singles in your community while staying safe, here’s what you need to know about virtual speed dating.

The Basics of Virtual Speed Dating

Online speed dating, as mentioned, is similar to traditional speed dating, except it is set in your home from your tablet, mobile, or computer — anywhere you’d like. Just as with in-person, a host will assist all the singles via a video conferencing platform. Zoom is an ideal platform since it has a breakout feature, which you can use to put singles together, allow them to chat for five to eight minutes, and switch the couples once the time is up.

Throughout the evening, participants can jot down those they’d like to exchange emails with. Once the event is over, the singles can pass along their choices to you, the event host.

Hosting Your First Speed Dating Event

couple touring the city

Start with a list of all the single people you know. Jot down single friends who would love to participate in a fun speed dating event. You can also ask your friends to suggest single co-workers or acquaintances who might be interested. The more you reach beyond your social circles, the better. After all, the idea of speed dating is to give singles a chance to connect with someone new.

Aim for a maximum of 20 guests, with an even split between the men and women. A very large group makes for a long and unmanageable evening — even if the event is online. If the attendees are too few, however, the dates might be awkward, resulting in fewer compatible couples.

Second, send out invitations at least three weeks before the event. Ask the participants to respond so you can get a headcount. The invitation should be clear about the agenda of the event, which platform you will use, and the time. Since this event is online, the issue of admission fees is debatable. Inviting more people is easier if the event is free unless you’ll be hiring a dating coach to spice things up with talk before the event.

To ensure a smooth speed dating event, keep the following in mind:

  • Give them something to talk about. Before the event, create discussion questions and topics to get the conversations flowing. Send them an email with a short list of questions to each guest or before the actual date, flash a slideshow of conversation starters. Suggested speed dating questions could be:
    • The basics
      • “What are your hobbies and interests?”
      • “What do you like to do during your spare time?”
      • “Do you have any siblings? Roommates? Pets?”
    • For more insight
      • “Are you a night owl or an early riser?”
      • “Where is your favorite travel destination?”
      • “What’s your dream job?”
    • Fun and/or creative questions:
      • “Choose a weird ice cream flavor: Mint chocolate or activated charcoal ice cream?”
      • “Would you rather be a ninja or a pirate? Why?”
      • “Should brownies be made with or without the nuts?”
    • Establish ground rules. Make sure the participants know the duration of each conversation, what to do when each date ends, and what happens at the end of the speed dating sessions. If any topics or questions are off-limits, inform them ASAP. Discourage participants from asking any variation of “Where do you live?” or “How much do you make?”
    • Let the dating event begin. Set a timer for each breakout room. Keep each date at a maximum of seven to eight minutes each. Longer sessions will slow down the event’s flow, as well as increase the likelihood of awkward silences. Take a 10-minute break in the middle of the sessions. Also, set some time at the beginning for the event’s guests to mingle.

The pandemic need not stop singles from finding love in the time of COVID-19. You can be the charge for this new journey when you host an online speed dating event.

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