According to the SpeedDating website, Rabbi Yaacov Deyo and his students in Los Angeles created the concept in 1998 as a way to help Jewish singles meet and get married.
In speed dating, singles gather and meet one another for a designated amount of time ranging from three to seven minutes, depending on the host or event planner.
Speed dating participants are asked to meet specific criteria in order to attend the event. The criteria narrow down the pool of eligible suitors; for example, the criteria usually includes a certain age bracket and category such as women seeking men, men seeking women, men seeking men and women seeking women.
All attendees are given name tags and a checklist to mark off the people they're interested in. Usually the women are seated at tables and the men take turns sitting and talking to them until a bell goes off, which indicates that the time is up.
The participants generally don't exchange personal contact information with one another. If two people select one another as matches, they are contacted by the host, who then forwards information such as an email address so the two can begin conversing.
Because there's a limited time to converse with people, some create a list of questions to ask so they can get the maximum amount of information during the short time span.