Written by Sean Li • September 20, 2021
Behind every great lunch and learn is a great topic and angle. Lunch and learns are extremely valuable both internally within the organization and externally when you're trying to market your product. Surface creative ideas with these six ways to leverage an event.
The classic yet powerful option for lunch and learn sessions is cross-training. Giving sales and customer service employees the potential to learn from designers, developers, finance, and vice versa is incredibly useful for the team. Empower employees to showcase their hard work and learn from the talented people around them. They’re able to connect with co-workers that they might not otherwise interact with. It’s a fine balance to make sure employees don’t feel like presenting is a burden, but the benefits are substantial.
Many don’t realize that lunch and learn sessions are a marketing opportunity. Similar to webinars, lunch events can bring in local leads and garner interest. Search for local organizations that run events and need speakers. Host an event at a local coworking space. This can be especially effective for new businesses and startups looking to make connections.
Onboarding is often associated with the common but unpleasant phrase, “drinking from the fire hose.” A lunch and learn allows new employees to slow down and take in information more casually. Additionally, it’s an opportunity to socialize with new teammates.
Another use case, which is highly relevant today, is reboarding. If employees are returning to the office or remote workers are in town, these events keep everyone informed and engaged. A similar scenario is inboarding, where employees have new roles. They can host a lunch event to explain their new role, their goals, and kick off new initiatives.
Personal development opportunities are often cited as a top factor for employee retention. Employees can enhance their speaking and presentation skills. It’s also a safe space to practice speaking and preparing a presentation. Speakers can see how well they know a product feature or particular skill. They can learn from feedback and improve without leaving the office or their at-home desk. Lastly, lunch and learns can serve as dry runs for conference presentations or sales pitches.
Any large company has a wealth of internal experts with knowledge and experience. Lunch events are a way to leverage this internal knowledge and make the company stronger. For younger employees, learning from their senior peers (and getting free lunch!) is a worthwhile endeavor. Mentoring is an ideal theme for the company lunch series. Gather employee feedback about who should present and what topics they’re interested in.
Another way to leverage lunch and learn events is to add a new element to existing meetings. For instance, product training or product roadmap sessions can be done in a more lighthearted and informal nature. Attendees might ask more questions and have more useful conversations over lunch, especially if done in-person.
Lunch and learns are a win-win for attendees and the ones presenting. They can be extremely productive for all. Just don't forget probably the most important thing — order a good quality lunch. After all that's a big reason why your attendees are there. Forget the boring turkey sandwiches that everyone gets from the local bodega, and opt for a lunch that's more curated and special. Use resources like CaterCow that can help you find a variety of catering options from vetted, punctual restaurants. Pick up something that's artisanal and recently rated on an Eater article to whet people's appetite. Or pick up some sweet treats!