First date nerves getting to you? There are a few tricks of the trade which can make all the difference. Here are some first date tips for banishing those butterflies.

Check your facts

A major reason for first date nerves is the fear of awkward silences. This can be eliminated if you’ve done your homework. Go back through the emails and messages you both exchanged on the site, so that you remember what you both liked about each other. You want to find out as much as you can to determine not only what kind of person your date is, but also whether you have enough in common to get a conversation off the ground. Online daters have the advantage here, as they have the contents of a dating profile to go on, which often details hobbies, occupation, music and film tastes. Jot down a few of these things, which you can bring up in conversation if you get stuck, and you won’t feel half as nervous in the run up to the date.

Try before you buy

This is a popular method among those dating online, and in many ways it’s one of the most useful dating advice tips out there. After you’ve exchanged messages on dating websites, have a chat on the instant messenger feature to see what your chemistry is like; a real-time conversation beforehand can also mean meeting face to face is a lot less awkward on the big day; you’ll know a bit more about what to expect from them in person which should put you both at ease.

The devil’s in the detail

Preparing your outfit before a first date is crucial. You want to be comfortable but you also want to look your best. The trick is to pick something you know you look good in but that doesn’t look like you’ve tried too hard. Think effortless chic. Your clothes should be fuss free, clean cut, and should say something about who you are at the same time. First date tips for girls: make sure you don’t over accessorize or show too much flesh, or you won’t feel comfy. Don’t hide behind layers of make up as this can be disastrous in the wrong light. Guys: be presentable, this means shiny shoes, ironed shirts, tidy hair and a dab (not a bucketful!) of aftershave. If in doubt, get advice from a particularly stylish friend on what suits you best.

Location, location

One of the more important first date tips is to ensure you have both agreed in advance where you’re going on your first date. Don’t be afraid to suggest somewhere you like and will feel comfortable. This means you’ll know what to wear (is it outdoors or indoors? Casual or formal?). It also means you can tell a friend where you’ll be on your date and when you’ll be home – a great safety tip for first dates.