Speed Dating 101

Prior experience with speed dating: I had a coffee shop interview with a woman from Brown when I was applying for undergrad, and she asked me, “If you were in the elevator with the current Brown president… what would you say?”

 

I froze. I had absolutely no clue what I would say. Elevator pitches, or speed dating, has always scared me a little bit. I addressed this fear when I was assigned a one-minute pitch to advertise to possible publishers a story I wrote on algal blooms in the Great Lakes. I did well, but that was easier — I had done all the work and written the story already, and I was able to know how to summarize my thoughts succinctly and get a point across. In this case though, my intentions are much more vague. I hope it goes well.

Expectations for speed dating: A first impression can go a long way. Making this a cohesive pitch is essential… I should only bring the most prominent or interesting details come to light. Because, when speed dating, people can only remember so much from each person. If I can make one thing stick out and have it remembered by everyone in the class, that would be a success.

Possibly, today will be the memory people jump back to when thinking about my topic for the remainder of the semester. This doesn’t mean people’s opinion of me can’t change, or that I can’t do something unexpected, but making a good first impression is important. Especially, it’s important for people that I won’t interact with on a weekly or class-by-class basis. So, I hope it goes well.

I want to captivate people’s attention, spark something that helps them to remember this project. That way, next time when I do a full pitch they are better mentally prepared to contribute and have ideas for me.

Results: Nervous at first, what helped me get through all six or seven “speed dates” was listening, asking questions of others, and putting my project in perspective; rather than just simply focusing on my own project individually. The more the pitches went on, I realized the things I was listening for:
– What motivates you to want to tell this particular story/project?
– Who are you going to reach, and how will you reach that audience in a unique way that hasn’t been done before?
– What experiences have you had that will help you write your story/project?

So, though I was excited to ramble about my idea and express my true passion and desire… to make my 4-minute speed dating pitch resonate I began to focus on these central questions. The more I gave the pitch, the more directed it was, and as a result I think I received better feedback.

Now… continuing to listen (to the feedback) will be essential in moving my project out of the brainstorming stage and making it a reality.