Back when I was president of Loving & Appreciation Club at The University of Minnesota I started hosting speed friending events to create strong student communities in partnership with schools and universities that encompass a scholastic environment and promote the values of diversity, independence, growth and life-long friendships.
Event Outcomes for Students:
As you know, meaningful relationships are scientifically proven to be a top 5 factor in determining academic success in school. Our goal is to help students connect and develop meaningful relationships with their peers to increase their level of academic success!
Our events empower students to form a large number of meaningful connections, and teach them social skills, crucial to their ability to form strong friendships.
In my high school years I felt very isolated, I had social anxiety and was scared of approaching new people & making friends. I felt like an outsider during classes, lunch, gym... My goal is to hold events helping kids like me overcome their social struggles and feel connected to the people around them!
Students get 3 to 5 minutes of one-on-one time with an amazing person! When the bell rings, students rotate to the next table and meet their new friend. By the end of the day, students will have met 25+ potential new friends !
Each Switch I announce a prompt question which helps facilitate a meaningful conversation between students. (The prompt question is optional giving students the option to steer their own conversations!)
Prompt questions examples:
If you could have any job in the world what would it be?
Open the conversation with a compliment.
(compliments allow students to feel good about themselves. Compliments remind students they are valued and appreciated which facilitates a strong sense of shared positivity)
What interesting things do you do that make you stand out from others?
(students get to share a side of themselves that makes them unique and individualizes themselves. Most students are proud of the interesting things they do that make them stand out. when they can share that with another person, they are more likely to feel understood, valued and accepted.)
Ask your partner for advice on something.
(studies show that allowing another person to help you creates a really strong bond with people right off the bat. this prompt teaches students how the power of vulnerability can not only bring them closer to others but bring them closer to their own dreams/goals)
When students use prompt questions they learn about different styles of conversation that they often end up applying to their own life. I've received emails weeks after events from students telling me they are grateful for the prompt questions because they struggled starting conversations with others and now feel more confident having the tools to start them.
We also often have people from different successful professions similar to your panel. These people participate in the event giving students the ability to connect with or ask questions about what they do (if they are interested)
Each of these people is introduced pre-event so students know who is who and don't have to figure it out as they go.
(I know a lot of really cool fun engaging people that have amazing careers and are delightfully skillful at having fun conversations with students.)
We will have a couple people going around to tables facilitating the event, and making sure students are on track, engaged and having fun!
In addition, it's beneficial to have staff from the school participate in the event because students will be able to create even stronger bonds with teachers and interact with them in a low pressure fun environment.
sound system -plugging in the software that rings a bell every 5 minutes.
microphone -for making announcements and prompt questions
Big open area like gym or large classroom (prevents event from getting too loud.)'
Chairs facing each other,
possibly small tables in between, but not necessary.
Additional tools: I have written up a step by step guide on how to make the most of the event that is passed out to students or covered in the first couple minutes of the event.
Feel free to check it out here!