Speed Mentoring

Speed Mentoring is a new concept that follows a similar format to speed dating. The format allows for quick-hit information from another professional to help solve a pressing need and targeted networking with the goal of finding a potential mentor. Speed Mentoring in a Workshop setting assumes that one person in a group of two is no more qualified to mentor than the other: both have different experiences and can learn from each other. Note that Speed Mentoring is not mentoring. It is more a way for people to meet potential mentors to see if there is a fit for a longer term engagement.

Download a Word version of Speed Mentoring Procedures (.DOC 51KB).

The following is a suggested procedure for speed mentoring sessions:


  • Arrange seating in a way that allows groups of two people to have a relatively private conversation and allows for flow when it is time to change partners. Circular seating arrangements are best for this.
  • Place facilitators around the room to serve as helpers if a pair has trouble starting off.


  • Begin by discussing what mentoring is and outlining the programs available (IAI, IxDA)
  • Have each participant write down on a name tag what they feel is their biggest strength and their most immediate challenge and wear it.
  • Have the participants sit in pairs.
  • Each group introduces themselves to their partner, exchange business cards and talks about their strengths and challenges.
  • Moderator signals when it is time for the groups to change partners.
  • Wrap up the session with a thank you and survey form.

This procedure is adapted from a program developed by the University of Kentucky. Details and a sample agenda and survey feedback form are available at:

Games and Incentives

To liven things up a bit, you could do one or more of the following:

  • Well ahead of the session, place a sticky note or taped business card with a winners notice under a random chair. At some point during the session have everyone stop and look under their chair. Prizes can include a free drink at the hotel bar, a signed copy of a recently published book, or something like dinner for two that mentor and protégé can do together, etc.
  • Position facilitators around the room to feed questions and prompts to pairs that might be having trouble starting things off. This helps break the ice a bit.
  • Allow facilitators to stop the session when they hear a particularly interesting solution or unique problem. They can either announce to the class what the solution was or have the participants explain. Or if both are stumped, ask the crowd to shout out viable solutions. This works best if it is toward the end of the pair’s three minutes.
  • Facilitators could also randomly issue free drink coupons to pairs who seem to have “interesting chemistry” going. This might prompt the pair to seek liquid philosophy after the event.

Sample Speed Mentoring Agenda/Script


  • Welcome to the first SPEED MENTORING event sponsored by ….. This is an inaugural event in that we’ve never tried this before either! Many of us haven’t even tried speed dating. You’re probably nervous but just relax and have fun with it.
  • As you all know, first impressions have important consequences. Some psychological research even shows that marriage counselors observing just a 2 to 3 minute video taped sequence can predict whether couples stay together. Other research shows that first impressions are made within the first three seconds – that’s why speed mentoring should work to match mentors with protégés!
  • The purpose of speed mentoring is to provide a quick hit of information in the form of a discussion or your mentoring strengths and professional challenges (and we all have both!), an efficient way to rapidly build your professional network, and a methodical way to “try-on” a number of mentoring relationships to see which one you might want to pursue later.
  • The time limits are important. We have schedule the speed mentoring to give you 3 minutes with each mentor and allowed 2 minutes to make sure everyone moves on for a total of 50 minutes. So everyone must keep moving so that we all can meet at least 10 people. You notice that we have scheduled the event for an hour and a half…that is to provide an extra half hour to enjoy the refreshments and to informally allow you to go back to talk more with the people you have met. You can always return to the conversations that were interrupted by the 3 minute signal!

Explanation of the process:

  • First, it doesn’t matter where you sit, whether you consider yourself the mentor or the protégé…the way we look at it, we can all use some mentoring. We all have strengths and challenges.
  • Second, the signal will sound like this (sound the signal)
  • Third, we will signal to start, move, and start again. Notice there are 3 minutes to talk and we’ve allowed for a very generous 2 minutes to move – this should allow plenty of time for you to close the conversation and switch chairs.


Wrap Up

  • Congratulations on having met and exchanged contact information. We encourage you to continue mentoring process.
  • Thank-you for participating

Expect an evaluation of event to improve future events, in a few days we will be emailing a few questions so that if you consider this to be valuable…we will do it again…and if so, you can tell us how to improve it. In a few months we may email you again to see if the connections you’ve made today have been helpful for you. Please return these evaluations to us so that we know what to do to continue to provide these types of events to you in the most valuable way.

This page was last modified on December 7, 2010 04:55 PM.