Speed dating event guidelines

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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.

At Oregon State University we have begun using variations on the "speed dating" model (just another name for structured networking) in a wide variety of settings. Sessions in conferences and workshops, whether keynote addresses, panels, or town hall meetings, share a common characteristic: one person at a time speaks, and everyone else is expected to listen.

After hours in that role, it is little wonder that participants pour out into breaks, hungry for conversation.

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This article describes structured networking activities (also know as "speed dating") that succeed in enlivening meetings, strengthening networking, and improving learning.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.A more classic version of speed dating was used during the Farmer-Chef Connection, an educational event that seeks to foster better relationships between chefs and individual farmers.The traditional format for this program was a mix of speeches, panels, and workshops, along with long breaks that featured outstanding food provided by the farmers and prepared by the chefs.

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