Carousel Speed Dating / Impromptu Networking​

Carousel Speed Dating / Impromptu Networking is a conversation method where two people face each other in an inner and outer circle and alternating 1:1 exchange is maximized by rotation of these circles. 

Level of participation


Duration of participation process

Preparation: 15-30min for defining set up and questions
Implementation: 15-45min
Follow-up: Not necessarily needed, only short wrap up

Target group size

<15 people​
15-30 people​
30-100 people​
100-250 people​
> 250 people



Venue resourcesare sufficient

Human resources needed
At least one person for preparation, moderation and documentation

The method: what is it, when to use it and what outcome to expect

Carousel Speed Dating is a quick, easy, effective, low effort and highly involving method that enables short 1:1 conversations between various participants using a rotation system. The technique is applicable also and especially for bigger groups and is often used as an introduction or onboarding exercise at the beginning of a larger process. The format can be used for participants to get to know each other and warm up a group, network, ideate together, share and discuss experiences, topics or statements.​

Through Carousel Speed Dating, every single participant is activated and involved and will get in touch with multiple points of view.​

There is also a modified, specific format which applies this logic which is called Impromptu Networking.​

The process: how to conduct it in an in-person setting or online using a PC/laptop with video option

The method follows three steps:

1. Preparation: The facilitator ensures the meeting room is big enough to fit all expected participants in two circles – half of the attendees forming the inner circle, the other half for the outer circle. The facilitator determines the questions or statements for exchange.

2. Implementation: The facilitator explains the procedure and asks the attendees to form an equal sized inner and outer circle facing each other, each person having one other person to talk to. In case of unequal numbers, the facilitator may take the place or allow one group of three. Each round, the facilitator introduces the question or statement to conversate upon. Each round, first the inner circle speaks for a defined and communicated time, then the outer circle. Before the process repeats, the persons of the outer circle move one place to the right for each new round.

3. Plenum exchange: Once the exercise is done, the facilitator may invite participants to share their experience and impressions voluntarily for the whole group.

Blended participation

This method is best facilitated in a face-to-face setting since it also is about creating a safe space to get to know each other. You can however use it in a broader participation strategy with also digital elements.​

Digital communication

Useful to reach and activate potential participants and to share a photo documentation of the speed dating (if participants agree to it).​ ​ ​

Good to know

  • One round is 1-5min per circle, depends on the goal
  • You may run as many rounds as you like, maximum until the outer circle has completely rotated
  • Consider a bell or other sound to signal each switching and each new round
  • Assess if its best to have the same question or statement for all rounds or different ones each time
  • Consider chairs instead of standing for longer talks
  • Consider multiple carousels in parallel, if the venue is too small or you want to discuss different topics 
  • Read further: (German) (Impromptu Networking – a variation)

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