Workshop Learning Activities – Speed Dating

As a learner, there is a limit to what I can learn in a ‘sit and listen’ classroom environment. As a trainer, I personally feel that it is more exciting and fun to add variation of strategies to make learning fun.

Speed Dating is something I use, for both ice-breakers and learning activity.  The steps remained the same even though the aim and content of the discussion differs.

Speed Dating In General

Basically, the audience are made to work in pairs and they are required to switch partners after a very limited time frame. Is this simple enough? I’m sure it is. Here’s a short video to show you what I mean.

It’s no big a deal, just individuals going around in a structured manner, trying to learn something from others.

However, there are 2 very key components that will make or break the effectiveness of this activity.

1. Setting Clear Objective.

I remembered when I was a participant of a training program and a trainer executed this activity. A few of the learners did not fully understand the aim of the activity and by the time we had a clear picture of what was to be done, the activity ended.

This is one of the most important factor that every learner centered instructors must do before giving the green light to begin the speed dating activity. Have you set the aim? Has it been communicated to the learners? Do the learners understand the aim?

Failure to achieve this step will result in learners moving around the room, not knowing what to do and making the whole session a waste of time(and energy). Learners must know what to do during this activity and what is expected out of them, at the end of this activity.

2. Setting The Safety Guidelines and Situation.

As there will be a lot of movement within that limited time, we can expect high energy movement and at times, anticipate some running by some learners. If you have achieved that high tempo, high energy level, that’s awesome! So keep it up!

Just one important thing to bear in mind; Training Safety. Training Safety consists of 3 components.

a. Personnel Safety

If you have no clue on the profile of the learners, such as age, medical conditions, you may want to ease up on the running. Also, get the learners to place their belongings at a secure place so that it does not cause any tripping.

b. Safety Of Personal Belongings.

In the midst of excitement and maybe confusion of movement, there may be some people around who may take advantage of the situation. Inform the learners (either before the activity or even at the program brief) to keep their belongings secured.

c. Safety Of Equipment

Several years ago, this activity was executed on a safety training workshop. In the midst of excitement, the younger learners were running around and accidentally knocked down a flip chart stand. Such incident is a killer of training energy and tempo, so setting the rules and boundaries in advance might be a good idea.

How Speed Dating Is Being Used In Workshops.

Over the years of training, co-training and even attending workshop as a learner, I’ve witnessed and experienced different uses of this Speed Dating. Here are some examples.

a. Speed Dating As An Ice-Breaker

Sometimes, I use speed dating as a medium to execute the meet and greet session. If you want, you can prepare a list of questions for the learners to ‘squeeze’ them out of their ‘dates’ in less than 30 seconds. At times, learners get creative and used their own methods to get those information such as using video or voice recorder or simply hand the information cards over to their partners to fill up.

b. Speed Dating As Part of Coaching.

20 coaches, 20 learners. The coaches will be seated around the seminar room. Each learner will take a seat in front of these coaches. Each learner is given a  good 5 minutes to ask the coaches anything regards to a particular subject matter.

Once the 5 minutes are up, the lead coach or trainer will sound the ‘bell’ and the learners will rotate around the room, spending the next 5 minutes with a different coach. They are free to ask the same question(different people have different perspective based on experience) or ask a totally different question.

c. Speed Dating As A Classroom Activity

A group of 20 students, told to do a 10 minute research on the traits of successful entrepreneurs. Once that 10 minutes were up, the students had to carry out the speed dating activity which requires them to share and gather information.

Perks Of Speed Dating.

Speed dating creates a high tempo, high energy environment to learning. Every learner is required to use different senses in the execution of this activity; Visual, Audio and Kinesthetic. It also builds confidence in communication and very suitable to be used as a bridging platform before a classroom presentation.

Speed Dating, by far, is one of the easiest learner centered activities that I have used. It is flexible, adaptable and if you know the steps, it can be used in many types of training situations. Well, just don’t over-do it.

What is the easiest learner centered activity that you have used so far?

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