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Lunch and Learn Benefits and How-To

Every company struggles with finding the right time and place to share messaging both internally and externally. Busy scheduled and competing priorities can make this exceedingly tricky. Meetings and breakouts, though fruitful, do take up time during the day. But that’s where the lunch and learn comes in: a communal gathering that takes place during your customer and coworkers’ noontime repast — after all, everyone has to eat. If you’d like to learn about how to make the most of the  lunch and learn, read on.

Lunch and learns: what can they do?

Lunch and learns can be ideal for increasing transparency and understanding between internal teams or customers and sales reps. There’s a good chance that your clients are not experts on everything that goes on in your company. Even a team or customer you interact with frequently is likely to miss out on useful context, workflows or feature updates. A lunch and learn can be a great way to remedy that. It fosters learning and growth, and can be a great opportunity to get behind-the-scenes teams to get to showcase the fruits of their labor.

In addition, it’s a communal gathering among your coworkers, which is great for team-building. Getting up in front of a group and explaining what you’ve been working on and why it’s important can also be a great morale booster.

But why lunch?

In the immortal words of Rally’s somewhat ominous tagline, “ya gotta eat.” As previously mentioned, meetings during the workday are necessary but divert your attention away from other tasks that need to get done. The lunch and learn sidesteps this by activating your lunch hour with education or team bonding. This poses its own risks however, as it can be a big ask to have your customers or employees take a working lunch. Fortunately, there are ways to mitigate this and make your lunch and learn an attractive prospect as opposed to a chore.

How to plan a successful lunch and learn

  1. Plan it in advance: Lunch and learns work best if you give your invitees ample time to plan their schedules around them. Spring a lunchtime meeting on your clients or employees, and you won’t motivate them to be present and engaged as they learn. This runs counter to the reason for scheduling a lunch and learn in the first place! Hubspot recommends scheduling a lunch and learn at least a week in advance, minimum.
  2. Choose a compelling venue and location: Planning a lunch and learn that’s miles from your target attendees’ office is a surefire way to end up with an empty room, but choosing a compelling location that is convenient is an offer almost no one can refuse. Whether you’re expecting internal employees or external prospects, guests invited to a new or scenic location will be hard pressed to turn down the opportunity. If you dare to pick something off the beaten path, there better be a reason that it’s compelling — a celebrity chef, a multi-course menu or a hands-on activity to accompany the educational content.
  3. Make it on you: Covering lunch for the customers and employees who attend is a great way to motivate them to show up. The way to an attendee’s heart is through their stomach and so on and so forth. An easy way to drive engagement with your lunch and learn is to cover the cost of lunch for the day. Bitly found that planning (there’s that word again!) your catering a month out allows for more than enough preparation when it comes to making sure everyone is well-fed at your event.
  4. Have a clear idea of what you’re going to learn about: Just like a regular meeting, a lunch and learn works best when you have a clear objective in mind. Is anyone invited to attend, or are you hosting a select group of people? Does your messaging align with the persona attending and will you be able to cover all necessary topics in the time allowed. Practice your presentation to make sure there is time at the end of lunch for Q&A or networking. 
  5. Mind the topic and the frequency: It would be a mistake to treat a lunch and learn like a full-blown meeting. People are still going to be eating while the talk goes on, so you’ll want to make sure you keep the content engaging and informational, but also somewhat lighter. Mindtools suggests scheduling lunch and learns on Friday to give them more of a weekend feel, but it’ll also take some exploring to see what works best for you and your company.

Lunch and learns can be a formidable addition to your customer engagement strategy and team building toolbox, but only if you utilize them effectively. If you need ideas for off-site events or in-office catering, we’ve got you covered. Check out our wide selection of curated lunch experiences and mobile catering options that are perfect for on-site meetings, product launches and more.

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