Updated: May 01, 2023

Office Lunch and Learns: Ultimate Guide

You found our list on office lunch and learns.

Office lunch and learns are onsite educational sessions that take place during lunchtime. Examples of online lunch and learns include discussions about work-related topics, such as soft skills and career development. The purpose of these sessions is to share information among workers while enjoying a special lunch together.

These events are in-person versions of virtual lunch and learns. Office lunch and learns provide great opportunities to discuss the benefits of diversity and inclusion and explore professional development best practices. Important subjects like allyship in the workplace and conflict resolution are ideal topics for sharing information of a more personal nature.


This list includes:

  • how to run an office lunch and learn
  • office lunch and learn topics
  • office lunch and learn ideas

Here we go!

How to run an office lunch and learn

1. Select event coordinators

Running an office lunch and learn is similar to running other onsite events. A single leader can serve as the coordinator for lunch and learns, or a team of workers can share the responsibility. Allowing several coordinators to work together while creating a series of lunch and learns will ensure a variety of topics that appeal to a broad audience. To keep the efforts balanced, you can create a lunch-and-learn committee with rotating members. This method will allow all workers to have a chance to contribute to the sessions.

​2. Create a schedule and agenda

To run an office lunch and learn, think of these sessions as seminars with a more casual feel. You can give your lunch and learn schedule the same consideration as you would other work meetings. Once you have chosen the dates and topics, you can block off time on the calendar to prevent double bookings. An email invitation to the teams will also allow interested workers to confirm and add the events to their calendars. If you have several lunch and learns scheduled in advance, then you can share the listing to entice workers to sign up as soon as possible. Deciding who will lead each session will allow you to delegate responsibility for setting up visual aids and materials among the coordinators.

3. ​Cater the meal

Catered lunches from popular restaurants will provide an enjoyable meal for each session. Depending on the size of your audience, you can order family-style dishes or request custom orders for each worker in attendance. Because time is of the essence on the day of your lunch and learn, setting up your orders well before your scheduled dates will help you stay organized. For companies with a limited budget, choosing less expensive fast food options or even coordinating potlucks can also provide special meals for your events.

Check out this list of corporate catering companies.

4. ​Coordinate with speakers

If your lunch and learn features a speaker, then scheduling these guests as soon as possible will help you stay coordinated. You can establish a schedule and due date for creating any documents, slide decks, or video clips needed for the session. Deciding ahead of time on a format, such as an open discussion or a lecture with a Q&A session, lets you make the best use of your time for both preparation and presentation.

Office lunch and learn topics

1. Diversity, equity, and inclusion

Office lunch and learns are ideal for exploring diversity, equity, and inclusion. These important topics are ever changing and contain nuances that a lunch-and-learn setting can help address. Inviting an HR representative or a subject-matter expert to lead the session helps cover the latest information and answer important questions that may arise.

Because diversity, equity, and inclusion affect all workers, consider making your session mandatory. This approach will allow the entire team to hear the information directly from the source, minimizing confusion and misinterpretation.

Here is a list of books on diversity and inclusion.

2. Soft-skill development

Developing stronger soft skills is important for workers hoping to have a more fulfilling workplace experience. Strengthening abilities like interpersonal communication and active listening will also benefit team members looking to advance their careers. You can create a lunch and learn that introduces the concept of soft-skill development and schedule follow-up sessions to address these skills in greater detail. Your group for the introductory meeting may break into smaller, more focused groups for the later sessions. Having soft-skills experts as guest speakers will provide a sense of authority and allow participants to receive important feedback from a professional in this subject matter.

3. New technology

For start-ups and companies adopting new technology, lunch and learns give you the chance to explain changes and reassure workers who may worry about potential changes. These sessions can include high-level discussions rather than detail-oriented breakdowns of systems and apps, which will keep the atmosphere light. Subject-matter experts leading the conversation can use the opportunity to share roll-out schedules and let workers know what level of support to expect as the transition occurs.

A lunch and learn covering new technology can be the starting point for future sessions after the changes happen. An ongoing calendar may be necessary for more complicated platforms.

4. Allies in the workplace

Allyship is an important aspect of the workplace. Lunch-and-learn sessions introducing the idea of being a purposeful ally can be the starting point for improving workplace culture. Seminars that define an ally and explain actions and attitudes surrounding allyship will reinforce company ethics. Additionally, these gatherings can start a conversation about the real-world impact of allyship in your specific workplace.

To ensure an enriching and informed experience, you can invite an HR representative or seek an outside resource with expertise in what it means to be an ally. Having an authoritative voice speak on this critical subject will help clarify the subject matter.

5. Organization and time management

Many workers will benefit from a lunch-and-learn session that offers better organization and time management techniques. From simple changes like using phone alarms and calendar pop-ups to more intensive methods like using a day planner, you can introduce an array of helpful tips and tricks your audience will surely appreciate.

Here is a list of time management tips for work.

6. Business writing

One of the more important soft skills in the professional world, business writing is an ideal topic for a lunch-and-learn session. Though not all employees are born writers, having a forum that explains the basics in specific detail and allows workers to ask questions can foster improvement. Whether your audience has difficulty composing emails or is unsure about their ability to write reports with clarity, a bit of education on these topics may be all it takes to build their confidence.

If you are unsure about explaining the specifics of business writing, then enlisting the help of a business-writing expert will also allow you to learn. For workers in a virtual environment, you may be able to find videos offering tutorials for team viewing.

Check out this list of books on business writing.

7. Public-speaking techniques

One of the most dreaded tasks in the business world, public speaking is an important topic to cover during lunch-and-learn sessions. Even if workers have a limited need for public speaking, learning from an expert communicator can make marked improvements and put employees’ minds at ease. You can conduct these educational luncheons in a similar fashion to a Toastmasters club. Toastmasters is a global nonprofit that aims to teach participants about public speaking, communication, and leadership.

Public-speaking activities engage participants by allowing them opportunities to test out new presentation skills in front of a friendly audience before using them in a professional setting.

While public speaking lunch and learns are great for work-related development, students in the audience can also improve their public-speaking skills for academic needs.

8. Cross-training

Because it is nearly impossible for employees to understand the roles of other workers fully, you can use your lunch and learn as an opportunity for cross-training. Instead of covering the nuts and bolts of a particular job, these sessions can focus on the primary responsibilities of other roles and explain how they connect to the operation. Whether or not the employees who attend will perform the functions covered, understanding the connections among the various teams is valuable.

Cross-training lunch and learns are a perfect setting for introducing key figures from other teams to your employees. In addition, you can invite leaders and subject-matter experts to lead your sessions and ensure they get a bite to eat as payment!

9. Community service

Many workers on your team may welcome community service opportunities but are unsure how to begin. By bringing in local charity and nonprofit representatives, you can start the conversation about how community service works during lunch-and-learn sessions. An ongoing series of lunches will allow you to introduce several local groups that may need continued help. These organizations can benefit from exposure to eager volunteers on your team.

For companies that encourage volunteering as part of the workplace experience, consider using a lunch-and-learn session to organize a community service activity for the entire team. You can discuss scheduling, transportation, and the work required during your upcoming community service event.

Check out this list of group volunteering ideas.

10. Personal finance

Ensuring a paycheck goes as far as possible is an important topic for every worker on your team. You can help employees get on better financial footing by planning a personal finance lunch and learn. A simple version of this discussion could include workers sharing their own experiences with saving and spending to help their teammates. For a more involved forum, you can arrange for a local finance expert to address your crew regarding investment, retirement, and building personal wealth.

Money matters can be sensitive topics. To ensure your attendees are comfortable sharing, explain the format beforehand so each individual can decide whether to attend.

Here is a list of personal finance books for inspiration.

11. Career advancement

Workers hoping to find new positions can benefit from lunch and learns that explain how to prepare for career advancement. From preparing a resume to rehearsing for an interview, these familiar subjects can be tricky when employees fall out of practice. You can discuss the need for education for certain positions or share experiences with moving departments to help your team understand the requirements. If internal departments or teams need new talent, then you can invite representatives to share inside about jobs and work functions.

Your career advancement lunch and learn may focus on internal growth within the company, or you may expand the conversation to include external opportunities in other industries. Depending on your team’s interests, you can set up future sessions to discuss requirements for advancement in greater detail.

12. Workplace wellness

Workplace wellness is a critical topic that workers may find difficult to discuss. Offering a lunch and learn explaining what workplace wellness entails can be the first step in making your team more comfortable talking about the subject. Having an HR representative share the company’s benefits and resources regarding mental health and physical health care will create a baseline for further discussion. Understanding that workplace wellness is achievable and supported by the organization is a great first step for clearing up worker confusion.

With so many aspects of wellness concerning the workplace, your initial lunch and learn may turn into a series of sessions! You can plan demonstrations and bring in experts to share their knowledge regarding anxiety management, relaxation, mind-body connection, and positive mindset goals. These sessions can even become a mini-wellness fair that helps your workers find a healthy balance.

Check out this list of employee wellness ideas.

Office lunch and learn ideas

1. Bring in exciting food

There is a reason the word lunch comes first in lunch and learn! These courses revolve around the lunch hour and should include enticing selections that help draw workers’ attention. While workers should feel free to bring their own lunches if they choose, providing a catered meal from a popular restaurant in the area is a thoughtful way to thank your audience for attending. If your budget is restrictive, then you can suggest a potluck-style lunch and invite attendees to bring their favorites to share.

2. Create a safe space

Lunch-and-learn sessions are discussions as well as lessons. Making sure all attendees speak and listen to others with respect and consideration is key. This aspect is especially true during more sensitive topics such as allyship and diversity.

3. Set aside adequate time

It may be difficult to predict how long the conversation in your lunch and learn will continue. Blocking out at least an hour will provide enough time to structure a lecture, Q&A, and discussion without coming to an abrupt end. If you anticipate a larger group or discussion, then you can make your session 90 minutes instead.

4. Bring in guest speakers

Having guest speakers share their authoritative knowledge is an excellent way to inform your team. Many times, the speaker may be a member of the team or another employee in the organization. Lunch and learns are a great forum for sharing internal knowledge in this manner.

Not every session requires a guest speaker, even for more challenging topics. Instead, you may choose to have an initial session with a speaker and schedule follow-up sessions for only you and the team.

5. Provide visual aids

Visual aids such as videos and slide decks can help you communicate your topic to an audience with diverse learning styles. These resources can be existing workflow charts or graphs, or you can create custom visuals for your session. When planning your lunch and learn, be sure to allow time for the presentation of these visual aids as well as lecture and discussion. This preparation will keep you on track throughout your lesson.

6. Include remote and hybrid workers

Bringing remote and hybrid workers into a lunch-and-learn setting is as easy as setting up a video meeting within your space. To ensure these external workers can indulge in the catered lunch, you can send food to their locations or invite them to order their lunches on the company’s tab.

7. Record your session

Your team will likely discover and share valuable information during each lunch and learn. Recording your sessions will allow a review of materials and conversations for future learning. You can store video files in a central archive and create a lunch-and-learn reference library for workers to access whenever they need.

8. Invite employees to lead

Every individual on the team is a subject-matter expert on some topic. To create a more enriching lunch-and-learn environment, open the schedule to any team member who may have information to share with and educate their teammates. You can plan a quick rundown of the setup required so your guest coordinator can assemble their presentation.

Check out more leadership activities.

9. Include executives

Lunch-and-learn sessions provide a relaxed environment to invite executives and high-level management to share their knowledge. These figures within the company may not have many opportunities to address workers informally. With a laid-back lunch on the table and an attentive audience, executives can introduce themselves and explain their roles and responsibilities.

10. Seek out local leaders

Your community is a rich resource for finding experts to speak at your lunch-and-learn sessions. You can seek out interesting individuals from your area to provide an element of community goodwill that may not be present otherwise. This approach is also a great way to introduce the team to helpful resources in their own neighborhoods.

11. Encourage interaction

Because learning is the ultimate purpose of the lunch and learn, be sure to involve the audience during the presentation. Leaving time for discussion and Q&A at the end is an excellent idea. If you are discussing concepts that may be new or difficult to understand, then be sure to pause during the presentation to allow your audience to ask questions and clarify what they have heard.


Office lunch and learns can become an important element within the workplace. By providing an opportunity to expand knowledge by exploring subjects that might not arise during the workday, lunch and learns provide a forum for personal and professional growth. Additionally, these sessions offer resources to employees and bring together diverse groups to share a learning experience.

Next, read about team building training courses and fun HR games to keep workplace education rolling.

FAQ: Office lunch and learns

Here are answers to some frequently asked questions about office lunch and learns.

What are office lunch and learns?

Office lunch and learns are informative seminars that occur during the lunch hour.

How do you run an office lunch and learn?

You run an office lunch and learn similarly to other work-related meetings. Choosing topics, creating materials, scheduling speakers, and ordering lunch for attendees are all important elements to consider when planning your lunch-and-learn sessions.

What are some good topics for office lunch and learns?

Some good topics for office lunch and learns include career development, workplace wellness, and public-speaking techniques.

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People & Culture Director at teambuilding.com.
Grace is the Director of People & Culture at TeamBuilding. She studied Industrial and Labor Relations at Cornell University, Information Science at East China Normal University and earned an MBA at Washington State University.

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