15 Speed Dating Dos and Don’ts You Need To Know

Dating experience | | , Copywriter & Sports journalist
Updated On: January 25, 2024
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You meet at a local bar, text and set up a date, go out on a few dates over a month, and think something may be clicking. Sounds romantic, right? What it also sounds like is way too much work. And also impossible, considering you don’t get an hour to yourself thanks to your 60-hour work week. Enter speed dating.

A quick chat with a bunch of singles, a scorecard, and the smell of overapplied perfume filling the room — speed dating events are pretty peculiar, there’s no doubt about that. Nonetheless, they work. That’s why they’ve been around for so long.

But just because you’re going to a speed dating event doesn’t necessarily mean everything will go smoothly. A few wrong moves, and you might head out with zero potential matches to your name and end up getting takeout for one on the way home. To make sure that doesn’t happen, read on to find out all the dos and don’ts that might just upskill your speed dating game.

What Is Speed Dating?

For the uninitiated, let’s first answer, “How does speed dating work?” Typically, speed dating is an event where a bunch of similarly oriented singles get together and converse with each other for about 4-7 minutes. Half of the singles are typically told to move from table to table after the time limit, while the other half sit in their place.

At the end of the speed dating session, based on the score you’ve assigned to every person you’ve talked to, people who have a mutual interest in each other may decide if they want to take things further. It’s that simple, but it’s not all that simple either. You’ve got about four minutes to make an impression, so you’ve got to make sure everything’s on point. Stay far, far away from the shoddy haircuts and the cringy pick-up lines.

Oh, and, if you’re wondering what online speed dating is, it follows the same construct, just in the virtual realm. Depending on the organizers, it may be through a video call or any other form of online communication, but the fundamentals remain the same.

So, what is speed dating? Basically, an offline/online version of sped-up dating apps that conveniently fits into your busy schedule, might land you a few dates within an hour, will get you sweating with anxiety, and promises to be an exciting experience altogether. Want to learn how to ace such dating events? Allow us to help.

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Sure, you might memorize a few fun speed dating questions that you think will get the job done, but what if everyone’s using the same questions sourced off the internet as you are? Sure, a regular conversation about your four-minute date’s background is good and all, but is that really how you can establish mutual interest that quickly?

As you can probably tell by now, a lot can go wrong at such dating events. You’re face-to-face with someone you’ve never seen before, and you might even be having fun, but there may not be a next date with this person simply because you didn’t leave a lasting impression.

First things first, if you’ve got a dating event such as this coming up, don’t let your “first date nerves” get the better of you. Put on your best cologne, put your hair down, and wear that killer smile, and it’s all going to be okay. Plus, these dos and don’ts will help you take care of the rest. They may even just be the difference between you walking out of a speed date with potential partners or an embarrassing story to tell your friends.

1. DO: Groom yourself

We’re not saying that there’s a particular sex that needs this more than the other one, but…okay, that is what we’re saying. Dear men: please find that long-abandoned nail clipper, get a haircut and a shave, moisturize your face and make yourself feel confident about your appearance.

There aren’t that many speed dating rules (except the strict “four-minute conversations only” one), but a very clear unwritten one is that you’ve got to look your best. First impressions are all we’re playing off here. PS: ladies, please don’t let it seem like you’ve put on a bit of face on your makeup. Even studies back us up on this one.

Related Reading: Tips To Date In New York City – Dating Culture In NYC

2. Don’t: Give someone too much information

We know you’re eager to impress, and we know the only thing you want to do is get as much about yourself out there as possible within the small time frame, but please keep your daddy issues to yourself at least until the fifth or sixth date. If you don’t, there won’t be a next date.

Instead, focus on concisely answering the question you’re asked and throw it a bit of wittiness. Ask a few good speed dating questions yourself, and if your date throws in some humor that’s right up your alley, you’ll suddenly realize why such fun dating events are a thing.

3. DO: Give undivided attention, engage and appreciate

If you haven’t caught on yet, this is a little different than your traditional online dating. You can’t give one-word responses and you can’t ghost this person, at least for the four minutes you’re with them. If you want to have a good experience with the desired people, keep your phone down, give this person your undivided attention, listen to what they’re saying, and be engaged.

4. Don’t: Reject your date on sight

When you’re sitting face to face with a potential partner, you can get a certain read on them (translation: you rate their appearance in your head). While that may have served you well thus far, try not to dismiss someone based on the first time you look at them and on what’s conveyed to you in the three-minute-long conversation. Keep your options open, try to not be so rigid about your “type”, and be open to meeting new people, the more space you give for there to be chemistry between two people, the better chances you’ll have.

5. DO: Keep it positive

Speed dating icebreakers like “God, I hate these speed dating events, aren’t they so weird? Haha, can’t believe we’re here” may make you think you’re going to find that niche-humor-loving person that you’re trying to pursue, but people usually remember positivity rather than negative vibes.

Try to keep your vibe positive, compliment the person you’re with, and talk about happy things, like, for example, your travel bucket list or the best travel memory you have and why.

Related Reading: Getting Drunk On Dates Vs Staying Sober: What’s better?

6: Don’t: Drink too much

There’s nothing quite like a glass of wine or a cold pint to take off the edge, but make sure you leave it at just that. A few too many and you may appear hyper-interested to a creepy extent, or you might end up slurring by the time you’re at your final speed date stop.

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7: Do: Keep your body language open and inviting

There’s more than just your words, your appearance, your fragrance, and your personality at play here. The way you sit, the way you greet someone, and the way you’ve positioned your arms will all help put forth a favorable impression.

The new people you meet won’t have too much time to judge you, so they’ll work off everything they’re getting, including your body posture. Make sure to have an open and inviting posture, and while you’re at it, feel free to analyze your date’s body language too.

8. DON’T: Ask if you two “hit it off”

An instant connection is what you’re looking for, but when you ask someone if you two “are a match” or if you “hit it off” right after asking them a bunch of basic questions, it may make them feel like they’ve been backed up into a corner. Instead, just wait for the scorecards to be settled and find out yourself. Nobody likes a person who’s trying way too hard anyway.

Related Reading: 21 First Date Topics To Impress And Engage Your Date!

9. DO: Take notes after every date

Once you figure out how speed dating works and things start working out, the sheer number of dates you have in a short time frame might all become a big blur in your mind. To avoid that, write down little notes about your date on your scorecard or your phone, especially after the good ones. Just make sure your date doesn’t see you writing down “Funny, squeaky voice but can work” on your notes.

10. Don’t: Make too little or too much eye contact

Flirting with your eyes is a skill – one that has very minute margins for error. Too long, and people may end up thinking you’re creepy. Too little, you’re bound to come across as under-confident. If the eye contact isn’t at that optimal stage, regardless of all the speed dating questions you ask your date, things will just feel weird. 

Our advice? If you struggle with it, practice the appropriate amount of eye contact on a mock date with someone. If you don’t struggle with it, just keep it in the back of your mind, your adrenaline (and beer) fueled brain will take care of the rest.

11. DO: Work around your best assets

Are you a great listener? Do you make people feel comfortable quickly? Can you make anyone in front of you laugh? Are you the super-positive and upbeat kind? Or more importantly, do you think you can be any of those things if you give it your 100%? Well, do just that.

Whatever your strength is, now is the time to go all in with it. After all, what is speed dating if not a super quick advertisement about your best personality assets?

Related Reading: Dating Etiquette – 20 Things You Should Never Ignore On A First Date

12. DON’T: Talk about touchy subjects

Stay far, far away from things like politics, conversations around race, gender dynamics, and any other such subjects. You’re not there for a debate, you’re there to see if you can find someone you feel an instant connection with and whether that connection can be nurtured into something more. Instead of asking them if they’re a democrat or a republican, maybe stick to generic fun speed dating questions.

13. DO: Ask more questions

Speed dating largely relies on small talk, and you need to be able to do that exceptionally well to stand out among other singles and establish yourself as a potential match for people you’re interested in. According to a study by a team of Harvard psychology researchers, the key to making a good impression through small talk is to ask more questions.

Instead of focusing the conversation on yourself, make sure that you ask authentic questions, make the person see that you’re listening, and pitch in with some valuable information when necessary.

14. DON’T: Stick to a script

If you want a small 5-10 second opener for yourself that helps you introduce yourself to your date in a concise manner, go ahead, but make sure you haven’t got an established set of questions for your speed dating partners.

Instead, take the questions as a pillar to lean on if you ever feel the conversation is dying out. Let your conversation flow naturally and talk about whatever it is you think feels right. At the end of the day, success at speed dating rests on finding an emotional connection with someone. So, just focus on that, and let everything else fade into the background.

15. DO: Let it happen!

Let whatever happens, happen. Studies suggest that we make up our minds about someone within the first 100 milliseconds of seeing their face anyway. So, if it clicks, it clicks. Just be yourself, put your best foot forward, and prepare for the dating events and you’ll eventually find someone you’re a good match with. You’re going there to have fun, not to find the person you absolutely have to spend the rest of your life with. Chill out, there’s always online dating to fall back on. 

Related Reading: 55 Best Ice Breaker Questions For Dating

Speed Dating Icebreaker Questions To Ask

Regardless of whether you’re in an online speed dating event or an offline one, as we mentioned above, a lot of it depends on your overall positive demeanor, the body language you have, how well you listen, and the kind of questions you ask.

Though it’s not a hard-and-fast speed dating rule, you must make sure your questions offer room for good replies and can initiate a free-flowing conversation. If you need some inspiration, take a look at the following fun questions:

  • How does your oldest friend describe you?
  • What do you need to do after a long day at work?
  • If you had to pick a cuisine for the rest of your life, what would it be and why is it Italian?
  • What do you like to do after you get tipsy?
  • What’s your best travel memory and why?
  • It’s 2 AM and you’re hungry. McDonald’s or Popeyes? Junk food or something at home?
  • What are some hobbies/things you do that you can’t live without?
  • If I asked you to show me your favorite spot in the city, where would you take me?

The questions mentioned above will not only help you gauge the kind of person you’re talking to, but they may also be the perfect ways to start a fun (albeit mini) conversation.

Key Pointers

  • If done right, speed dating can be a lot of fun
  • Before the event, groom yourself well, think of a few things you might want to ask your date, and be confident in yourself
  • Ask more questions about your date than talking about yourself, be positive, and make sure your body language is open and inviting
  • Don’t talk about touchy subjects or try to force a connection with someone
  • Try to have fun, it’s not the end of the world if things don’t work out

Whether you’re considering exploring the speed dating NYC scene or anywhere else in the world, the dos and don’ts we listed out for you will pretty much give you all the direction you need, the rest depends on that killer charm and suave you’ve got. Go knock em’ dead, soldier.


1. What is speed dating?

Speed dating is an organized online/offline event where a bunch of singles get together and talk to other similarly oriented singles for a span of about three to ten minutes to try and figure out if they’ve got a mutual connection brewing.

2. How does speed dating work?

Speed dating basically includes you talking to a bunch of single people for a short duration of time, rating them based on the brief conversation you had with them, and then based on their scorecards for you, assessing if there’s a possible connection here and a chance for a second date.

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