How to Get Topics and Participants for Learn-at-Lunch Events

How do you get topics for learn-at-lunch training sessions?

If you want to start lunch and learns but do not where to start, do an on-line survey (with SurveyMonkey or Social Media Polls) to see what topics people are most interested in to get started.  You can provide 10 topic areas and request those surveyed rank them in order of preference.  You may also want an optional fill-in the-blank field to capture ideas you did not think of for prioritizing in the next survey.  Be sure to provide a “do by” date to encourage timely responses.  The easy decision then is to start with the topic with the highest ranking and move down the list.  This type of survey could be done quarterly or annually to test new topics or determine which ones to repeat.

How do you get people to attend Learn-at-Lunch events?

The obvious answer is to make them worth attending.  How do you do that?  Below are a few ideas to think about for mixing it up and making it worthwhile for your training participants.

  • Do not just do lecture and a PowerPoint presentation!  You can make it interactive by adding games, case study review, quizzes, as well as "Q&A."  Make it more interesting by including skits, vendor or customer comments, video clips, demonstrations and music if appropriate.  You might find something funny on YouTube that could drive home your primary point. It should be so interesting that people want to come to the next one!
  • Consider capturing all the questions on a flip chart or marker board, if the lunch and learn involves a strategic change.  Then when you get the best answers from management, you can publish it as a FAQ document for all employees to access.  You may also want to record the event so you can share it with more people via the company intranet.
  • Find good presenters, people who are knowledgeable and can make their topic interesting!  You do not want a monotone voice reading slides and putting the audience to sleep after they eat.  Instead you want people to go away with more knowledge than they came with.  Presenters can be internal to the organization or motivational speakers from outside the company.
  • Make sure you space and equipment works in advance.  Not understanding how to link in remote attendees or on-line data is not only frustrating to them and the speaker, it is distracting to those physically sitting in the room.  If you mess up with technology and spend too much time fixing it, people may not come back to the next event.
  • Consider success sharing among teams and projects as potential lunch and learn topics too.  Let your teams shine and share to help others improve and grow.  This should be a learning session, not an idea generating meeting or project completion party – those should be separate individual team events.

Once you have your topics and your schedule planned.  Get the word out!  Start with emails and do not stop there.   Promote it with flyers, bulletin boards, or posters prominently placed around your business facilities.  If your organization has a newsletter or corporate e-calendar make sure your lunch and learns get listed there too.

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