SET UP LUNCH AND LEARNS
Prep work is necessary to the success of every endeavor. The success of lunch and learns depends heavily on the prep work. It is important to plan out the details of the gatherings. Planning requires more than a time and a date. You must find the right location, and set everything up ahead of time. This will prevent surprises and ensure that everything runs smoothly. The following steps can help you achieve success with your lunch and learns:
DECIDE WHAT YOU WANT TO ACHIEVE
Whether the focus is on introducing yourself to a new client with an overview of your company or providing information to an existing client that will help them with their business, remember that you're asking people to give up their lunch break. Good food will encourage them, but there's more to a successful lunch and learn than just free pizza! Make sure that you are providing valuable content so that they walk away with information that they can use and want to come back to the lunch and learns you hold in the future.
KNOW THE NUMBERS
Decide in advance whether the lunch and learn will be for a specific small group of participants, or whether it's open to everyone in the office.
In either case, send invites and ask people to respond promptly, so you know how many people will be attending and you can plan your food accordingly.
CHOOSE AN APPROPRIATE VENUE
You may be brining lunch in to a clients office or perhaps you choose to hold a lunch and learn at a local pizzeria or resturant. Selecting a venue that will be appropriate for learning is important.
Some public locations may be prone to noise and interruptions, so consider holding your lunch and learn in the company’s conference or meeting room. These are more likely to offer projection facilities, and may have better access to power sockets.
FOCUS ON THE FOOD
Lunches will need to be prepared and paid for, so you may need to agree a budget with your manager, know your number of attendees and find the food that fits into that budget.
Think carefully about what kind of food you will serve. Much will depend on your budget, but light, healthy snacks that you can eat with your fingers are often a good option because they're less distracting than hot meals and they also are easier to bring in and can create less mess.
You may want to set up a monthly series of lunch and learns so try to vary the menu occasionally to keep people interested. And make sure there's enough for the speakers as well as the attendees!
Also think about whether you need to source cutlery, plates and so on, and about who will clean up after the meeting.
CHOOSE FREQUENCY AND BEST DATE AND TIME
If you are setting up a series for your lunch and learns, you’ll want to find out what day of the week is best for your attendees. Some companies have regular meetings that are already arranged. If it is in their regular schedule it may be a good idea to see if you can be a part of their regular routine. Check to see which day of the week will be best for attendees so that you can ensure higher attendance. For example, Fridays may be popular for lighter topics with a more relaxed, "weekend" feel, but people may have plans for the weekend, so you may not get a great attendance. Be sure to set a date and time that ensures your success.
REMEMBER REMOTE WORKERS
Audio and video conferencing apps such as Adobe, Zoom and GoToMeeting/GoToWebinar can enable remote staff to take part in lunch and learns in "real time."
If this isn't possible, consider recording the session and making it available to those who cannot attend.
KEEP THE BUZZ GOING
Think ahead about how you’ll follow up after the lunch & learn to keep the momentum alive. You might want to create a summary of questions and answers from the session, share photos of people in action, recap those key social media skills and tips, or just provide a general overview along with the presentation materials. The main thing is to keep the discussion going and make it something people won’t want to miss out on in the future.