Welcome to the future. It might feel like we're in some sci-fi film but actually, virtual speed dating is the new norm and the best (only) way to meet people in these unusual times. And you've signed up but wait, you're used to meeting people in person. Do I still get dressed up? I hear you ask. Do I still need to wear perfume/aftershave? Can they smell me through a computer?! Don't worry, these are all genuine questions and Original Dating have already hosted many virtual speed dating events. We're going to share our experiences and tips to give you a head start in the virtual dating world.
If you had asked me at the turn of the year what I thought about hosting virtual speed dating events, I would have filed your suggestion under "I'll eat my hat if it works". But having hosted Original Dating's first ever virtual speed dating event last week, I will quite happily eat my hat. And it was a nice hat. The reality is, there's not much difference between our IRL and our online events. If anything, they're slightly better. Don't believe me? Check out the reviews from our previous virtual events.
So now, having hosted a few virtual speed dating events, I'm going to become the self-appointed Virtual Speed Dating Guru because, let's face it, there's nobody else. So here are some virtual pearls of wisdom, cookies if you like, to get the most out of our virtual speed dating events.
Dress to impress
Virtual speed dating is still dating and it's face-to-face, lest we forget. So, why do anything different? Wear your lucky shirt or favourite dress if that's what you would wear on a normal date. And don't stop there, do your make up, gel your hair and wear perfume if you want. One of the biggest things I've taken away from our events is a sense of normality, so if that means wearing your favourite perfume, chuck it on. Most importantly, do what makes you feel good about yourself.
If you're having trouble deciding between which of your lucky shirts you should wear, I'd recommend picking the one with less of a pattern as block colours will be less distracting and be picked up better on screen.
Pyjama bottoms and a dress shirt – that's how I roll.
Set the scene
Do you remember the TV show 'Hot Property' where contestants would pick who to date by snooping around the potential suitors homes?
Unlike our IRL events, these virtual events will be a glimpse inside your life. Where possible pick an interesting backdrop in your home, a place that you feel comfortable or even close to the drinks' cabinet. A blank living room wall or nice picture framed behind you will be a more pleasing aesthetic rather than your bedroom with an overflowing laundry basket in the corner (not describing my bedroom, honest). Plus you can curl up on the sofa: the beauty of virtual speed dating is meeting people from the comfort of your own home, so get comfy.
It's not a bad idea to think about the lighting, not too dark, not too bright and make sure the light is not directly behind you, this will minimise any camera flare. It's important you can be seen, we wouldn't let you speed date in the dark would we...
All gear and no idea
Ah technology, the bane of my life. If there had to be a con amongst all of the pro's, it would be technology. Fortunately, virtual speed dating works with most devices including your smart phone, laptop or desktop computer. Make sure, if you're using your wi-fi, that you're as close to the router as possible and you have a strong internet connection.
When using a laptop/desktop you will need either a built-in camera and microphone or separate plugin camera and microphone. This is essential as there's no typed messaging in virtual speed dating. We send you all the information with an easy-to-set-up link to the virtual speed dating event and I would suggest making sure you're all set up and ready to go prior to the event. Test your audio and microphone to ensure a smooth virtual experience.
Luckily, I'm somewhat of a virtual speed dating guru, so people (me) are saying, and there's nothing technical that you will need to do other than sign into the event on time. Either myself or another host will handle all the technical side of the event and run the event like some cyber hacker from the movies.
On arrival to the event, you will be held in a waiting room where the host will bring the guests in one by one to sign in before introducing the event. So please be patient during this time and we will get to you.
Get your head in the game
You've got 4 minutes go. Wait, what do I say?! It's a different means of chatting but it's just the same, so don't worry. Introduce yourself, exchange your individual numbers to get the ball rolling. The rest is open to interpretation. One way of looking at it, is to go with the flow and see where the conversation takes you. I'd recommend having a list of questions you've prepared in advance to hand, this will help you to get the most out of your 4 minutes.
Think of things that are important to you but make the question more open and specific than 'What things do you like to do?' Instead try 'What do you miss most about your weekends before quarantine?' Or 'What will you do your first weekend after lockdown?' There's an elephant in the room and there's nothing wrong with discussing it. If anything, it's comforting to know you're not alone in all this.
The difference with video chat is that there might be a slight delay, so if you're not familiar with video chat, it's good practice to allow time for people to reply and try to keep interjections to a minimum – that's a top tip from the guru.
Stirred not shaken
Finally, sit back, relax and enjoy yourself. Pour yourself a nice glass of wine or even make yourself a Martini – stirred, as you'll not be shaken after these tips. After all, this will be a welcome respite from social isolation and a great way to enjoy yourself while staying home, staying safe.
We launched our virtual events in response to social distancing to provide a means of connection through these unusual times. However, we never imagined it would be such a success and the response to our online events has been overwhelmingly positive. Every cloud has a silver lining and the thought of connecting people and encouraging future relationships during this time is a glimmer of hope that we've embraced with open arms.
Now get out into the virtual dating world and start your future.