Men and women are rotated to meet each other over a series of short "dates" usually lasting from three to eight minutes depending on the organization running the event.
At the end of each interval, the organizer rings a bell, clinks a glass, or blows a whistle to signal the participants to move on to the next date.
While over 100 companies in the US offered speed dating through online registration during the growing of the Internet, between 20 three large speed dating companies emerged with a national footprint in the US, with events in over 50 US cities: Hurrydate, 8Minute Dating and Pre-Dating.
In the UK, there are two companies that run events in more than twenty cities: Speed Dater and Slow Dating.
Contact information cannot be traded during the initial meeting, in order to reduce pressure to accept or reject a suitor to his or her face.
There are many speed dating events now in the United Kingdom, Canada, and the United States.
There have been several studies of the round-robin dating systems themselves, as well as studies of interpersonal attraction that are relevant to these events.
Other studies found speed-dating data useful as a way to observe individual choices among random participants.
On the other hand, a couple that decides they are incompatible early on will have to sit together for the duration of the round.
Most speed dating events match people at random, and participants will meet different "types" that they might not normally talk to in a club.
Speed dating is a formalized matchmaking process of dating system whose purpose is to encourage people to meet a large number of new people.
Its origins are credited to Rabbi Yaacov Deyo of Aish Ha Torah, originally as a way to help Jewish singles meet and marry.
Unlike many bars, a speed dating event will, by necessity, be quiet enough for people to talk comfortably. Participants can come alone without feeling out of place; alternatively it is something that women who like to go out in groups can do together.