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Seb Anthony

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lunchtime learning activities


I am training manager for a group of workshops and am thinking of introducing bite size learning at lunch - starting with something like a quiz - questions given to teams divided down functional lines ie senior management v IT v operations etc etc. Questions would be function specific, Co specific, industry specific and general knowledge.

Has anyone tried this or anything like this - has it worked or am I mad!!

Does anyone have any other suggestions for quick, fun and useful learning activities?

andy phillimore

5 Responses

  1. Lunch Time Learning
    In a software and systems company where I recently worked, weekly 30-minute ‘lunchtime lectures’ proved to be an excellent way of enabling people to get a real insight into the work and problems of their colleagues in other teams and departments. Informality was the keynote, and the sessions were always organised as a 20-minute presentation followed by 10 minutes for questions. There was a regular chairman for all the sessions, but the main speakers were ordinary members of staff who had volunteered. Often 2 people co-presented: this was quite popular as a way of giving inexperienced speakers moral support.

    Typical topics included stories of people’s experience of how difficult problems on projects had been overcome: these were used as case studies to learn how to avoid mistakes and do better next time.

    Time control was strict – but these sessions stimulated a lot of interest each week, and led to very useful conversations and ideas afterwards. Based on this experience, I’d certainly recommend it!

  2. Lunchtime training
    I set up something similar in a civil service department several years ago and it worked really well. The particular things we did to make it a success were:
    – making senior managers “sponsors” on a roat basis, ensuring suitable subjects were covered as well as giving visible support
    – providing free lunch
    – making attendance voluntary
    – including a regional directors question time (RDPQs) a regular slot
    – constantly asking attenders and non-attendersw for their preferred subjects
    – publishing a rolling 4 week schedule in advance
    It was good, fun and took surprisingly little preparation, mainly booking the room, subjects, speakers and dinner!

  3. Masterclasses
    Our ‘Masterclass’ series has been a real hit (I’m at a large consulting & IT firm). 14 60-90 minute events are planned in the next month alone, at several sites across the country. We have them lunchtime and evening. Here are my tips.
    > Use your internal experts. I’ve also found external providers will present Masterclasses for nothing as a taster.
    > Devise an attractive title and ‘straplines’ to attract people along.
    > Publicise widely. We use MS Outlook ‘meeting requests’ to get them into people’s diaries; also posters, emails and a webpage from which people can download material.
    > At the risk of contradicting an earlier writer, don’t provide free food.
    > Ensure they end on time.
    > I have a detailed briefing for presenters to help make sure they don’t deliver a duff one.

  4. Mine became known as “brown bag” sessions
    ..because that’s what we brought our sandwiches in!

    From my successes and failures, I found that five things were key: (1) start and finish on time, (2)(perhaps a little contradictory) keep the sessions informal, (3) make the sessions very practical with lots of activity or useful tips, (4) get the widest and most diverse set of speakers / presenters you can, and (5) have one or two ‘compares’ or ‘chairmen’ to act as a continuity thread throughout the series

    I started off with straigtforward soft skills sessions which were of general interest to get people into the swing of it all, and grew in stages to meaty company based issues. I worked out a rough plan of the the topics in each of the stages (e.g. started with time management, listening skills, business writing etc – moved through facilitating meetings, problem solving skills, logical arguements etc – into interteam conflict, project specfic issues, quality etc), then set about finding internal experts or people keen to just ‘give it a go’. I then added extra sessions as topics, speakers or ideas presented themselves.

    I encouraged people in the company who delivered training either to their teams or on an ad hoc basis to be presenters as a means of practicing and developing their skills (and often gave them specific feedback in this area if requested).

    I focussed on ensuring people from all ‘levels’ in the company came and presented from the CEO to the receptionist (who did a great review on customers attitiudes and behaviours when kept waiting!)

    I also learned that keeping the numbers in the sessions manageable was best, but not easy to do, and that I needed to start off booking a small space which was not intimidating (so I didn’t use the boardroom for example – I acually used a corner of the cafe)and book a bigger space as numbers grew.

    Hope it helps!

  5. Lunch n’Learn
    We have run lunchtime sessions for a number of years. Initally they were called Busy Manager but now they are called Lunch n’Learn. They are designed for senior staff who neglect their learning and development and don’t like to take a whole day out of the office. We organise a presenter who will deliver a talk or facilitate a discussion. I am very self indulgent about the topics which can be housing specific or developmental eg Subconscious Influencing, Dealing with the Media or Career Planning. The short nature of the event is popular and you need acertain amount of creativity to keep coming up with new ideas.It allows us to interest the participants in other training and sell SHARE’s services.


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