April 2, 2013

The Marvelous Method of the Lunch and Learn!

I am a big fan of learning a lot in a little span of time.  I feel in the rush-rush work environment most of us are in today, lots of people agree with me.  This is not just my opinion, it is a based on all the requests I have gotten over the years to come and speak at companies and associations during a meeting or “eating event.”  Most often it is a Lunch and Learn (aka LnL), occasionally a dinner meeting or an educational breakfast.  

I usually try to keep most of the classroom training I do to the main points only with a few exercises or group discussions to stress the key points I want attendees to get.  Where many contract trainers will drag a course out thru 2-3 days, I try to accomplish the main things participants need to know in 1 day.  Often I can take what many others would stretch to 6-8 hours and squeeze it into a half day of interactive training.  Sounds good, right?  In today’s “find it on the internet” learning society, I am often asked to take the 4 hours and “cut it down” to 2 hours or less.  Sometimes this is possible with a well-planned lecture only using 3-4 key concepts that drive home the points necessary to do business better. 

Why cut the training from interactive to quick lecture?  Often it is budget reasons, occasionally labor restrictions, and sometimes other more pressing business needs for the employees’ time.   For all those reasons, the lunch and learn concept works for most companies.   Why?  Employees can brown bag it to eat their lunch while they learn something that may improve their career at the same time. 

Does this sound too good to be true?  Next time you have a need to disseminate information that cannot be expressed well in an email, consider doing a lunch and  learn (or call it something else at another meal or logical break in the day).  Plan a 30-40 minute presentation (PowerPoint with speaker or a great video done by management or HR).  Then follow with a Question and Answer (Q&A) period to make sure everyone gets the key message(s).  Having a slogan or acronym repeated at the beginning and end by audience can also help them to remember the key concepts as well.  If you have a lot to cover, consider an LnL series, with a new topic each week on the same day of the week so people can plan their attendance. 

Want more information on how you might use LnL in your organization?  Check out the article I wrote for Dallas ASTD - LnL:  A Dollar Saving Training Option for implementation ideas.

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