A lunch and learn event is a great way to strengthen company culture by giving employees the time to learn from each other and exchange ideas. However, organizing a lunch and learn event can be complicated when employees are working remotely from different locations and time zones. A virtual lunch and learn offers remote employees the chance to participate in team-building activities, develop personally and professionally, and become better acquainted with one another. Keep reading to discover topic ideas and tips to host a successful virtual event.

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What is a virtual lunch and learn?

A virtual lunch and learn is an online lunch experience that allows employees of a company to converse and learn about diverse topics. A lunch and learn session is the perfect moment to encourage the personal and professional development of employees. 

6 tips to host a successful virtual lunch and learn

1. Choose a topic

One of the first things to consider if you want to organize a successful lunch and learn is the topic. It’s important to choose a topic that’s relevant to both the company and its employees. To achieve this, you must identify what lunch and learn topics will best attract the attention of attendees. A virtual lunch and learn session shouldn’t be too knowledge-dense, as that will take away from its casual nature. 

Relevant topics can be found in all areas of a business, from customer feedback to important changes in company policy. You can find good lunch and learn ideas by asking your employees what they want to talk about. Ideas for a virtual lunch and learn can revolve around an upcoming company event. For example, a customer service team will greatly benefit from a lunch and learn where a new product is explained to them by those who developed it. 

Our guide to implement a Lunch & Learn session will help you get to know more about your employees' interests and strengths. By using this template in your one-on-one meetings, you will encourage knowledge sharing and thus be able to develop team building activities with your staff!

2. Pick someone to be the host

It is hard to plan a typical lunch with remote employees. To maintain an engaging conversational flow, you should appoint a charismatic individual to be the host. Public speaking is not for everyone. If the host can’t keep the virtual session interesting, employees will just zone off. 

If the purpose behind your lunch and learn is product training, then you should have a product manager who is excited about the product launch be the host of the event. Employees can be handed out invitations to speak about topics they are passionate about. Those who have a particular skill may be eager to share it with their peers during a lunch and learn. For instance, if you want people to discuss common client queries, a customer service manager with ample experience interacting with people might make a great host.

3. Organize lunch and learn activities

Organization is key to a successful virtual lunch meeting. A lunch and learn shouldn’t last more than 30 minutes including questions, and it is important to use this time well. You should design virtual sessions that compel the staff to engage voluntarily while also covering as much ground as possible. 

A good virtual lunch and learn may be structured in the following way:

  • Give everyone some time to settle in. Don’t expect people to be ready to pay attention for the first 5 minutes of a virtual lunch and learn. After all, this is the time for everyone to log in, get their food, and say hello to one another. During this time, it is best to keep the conversation simple and casual.
  • Holding the main event. The presentation is the main course of your lunch and learn. The host should present the session agenda and proceed to start with the virtual meeting. Depending on how much information must be relayed, this part of the virtual event should go on for 10-15 minutes. 
  • Don’t forget the Q&A session. It is good to leave some time for employees to ask questions and clear their doubts. After wrapping up, the last moments of the virtual lunch and learn can be dedicated to further the interaction between the attendees and the presenter. 

4. Let everyone know about your virtual lunch meeting

You can’t talk to your remote team face-to-face, so you should communicate the event details to them using the channels you are already familiar with. If you don’t communicate the event logistics early, you run the risk of employees having an unpleasant last-minute surprise. 

You should email the topic, agenda, date, and time to all potential attendees in advance. You can facilitate the communication and organization of your lunch and learn with an Enterprise LMS. It is used widely by businesses to create, distribute, and manage digital courseware to learners. In addition to providing a central location for storing and distributing course materials, an LMS provides you with tools for tracking participation, performance assessment, reporting, and other functions.

5. Plan a remote lunch

Naturally, people will attend a lunch and learn with the intention to eat. Planning a virtual lunch differs from a typical lunch break because managing food ideas and catering becomes more complicated due to the distance. While it may be impossible to bring everyone to the office and order takeout, that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver food to your employees. In fact, you can allow them the leeway to choose what they want to eat. You can give your employee’s a certain allowance to order the food and beverages they wish from their favorite national chains or local restaurants. 

6. Gauge the success of your virtual lunch

You should record and monitor the success of your lunch and learn, especially if you wish to conduct more of them in the future. By recording your learning sessions, you can make them available to team members who were unable to attend the live event. Additionally, you can run a post-session survey to collect feedback on what your attendees liked, what they learned, and their opinions on how the experience could be improved. 

Holding regular lunch and learns is a great way to strengthen company culture. By having an active community of employees, you can streamline communication, engage with clients more effectively, and increase workplace morale. You should always encourage your employees to converse and learn from one another.

Amazing topic ideas for virtual lunch and learns

“Ask me anything” sessions

Made popular by the online discussion site Reddit, an Ask Me Anything is an online question-and-answer session where an expert can spend an hour of their time engaging with people who are interested in different aspects of their life. When taken into the professional sphere, this type of session is a great way for employees to learn more about their superiors.

People can ask questions about a wide variety of topics, ranging from strategies for personal development to tips on how to dress for success. This approach lends itself to better collaboration than typical Q&A sessions. Presenters can choose to focus on the most popular questions to base the session on what the majority of attendees wish to know.

Team-building nerd talks

Similar to TED-style presentations, nerd talks are virtual sessions that include interactive elements such as remote bingo to enhance audience engagement and participation. This virtual lunch idea is great for offering attendees the chance to relax and freely talk about topics other than work, from zombies and aliens to extraordinary facts and lesser-known tidbits of history. 

Comedy workshops

Instead of focusing on work themes, lunch and learns can also be about the favorite skills and hobbies of attendees. A comedy workshop is a crash course in standup where an experienced comedian can share their secrets with attendees. Attendants to a comedy workshop can improve their wit by practicing joke delivery and how to craft effective one-liners. Comedy helps people enhance their soft skills and can inspire feelings of camaraderie between remote teams. 

Online book clubs

Book clubs are typically held in person, but they can also work as good virtual lunch and learn activities. By incentivizing talking and thinking about deep themes, these activities offer attendees a very educational experience. To hold a successful virtual book club session, it is important to settle on a book a month or so before the event. While books meant to be read for pleasure are common in book clubs, career development-focused books are also valid. Physical or digital copies can be provided to guests in order to boost participation. Discussion questions should be considered in advance to facilitate conversational themes.

Storytelling workshops

These virtual events take around two hours and consist of a presenter guiding employees through a writing masterclass. Storytelling workshops are ideal for remote work employees who can spare more than an hour in a lunch and learn. Besides learning composition hacks and presentation hints, participants can also share tips on how to make their stories more engaging. 

At the end of a virtual storytelling workshop, attendees can compose and share their own original short stories. Other attendants can then praise their efforts while also providing some constructive criticism. The lessons learned during these sessions can help guide marketers, salespeople, HR professionals, and managers to be more confident when expressing their ideas and dealing with people. 

The bottom line is that virtual lunch and learns have become a powerful and flexible tool for bringing people together, building knowledge and fostering a strong community within an organization.

With a clear understanding of what a virtual lunch and learn is, applying our six essential tips, and exploring the range of amazing topic ideas we provided, you should be fully equipped to host successful and engaging events.

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