Elevating the Brown Bag Lunch
By Kaitlyn Isola
In order to empower the women within our organization, spark compelling conversation and foster strong relationships, we started Brown Bag Lunch Dates. Once a month, all women of Blackman are encouraged to sign up and participate in a lunchtime TED Talk viewing and conversation. The chosen TED talk usually last about 20 minutes and focuses on professional development, conversations around confidence and how to make a difference in and outside of the workplace. After viewing the talk, an informal 30-minute conversation takes place.
How to Get Things Started
Before beginning this project, we invited the members of our executive team to discuss our ideas and gather the resources needed to make our lunches a success. With their support, we were able to arrange for:
- Meeting Spaces
- Lunch accommodations
- Tech resources
Having the logistical pieces in place before announcing the concept to your coworkers will make things much easier.
How to Introduce the Concept to Your Coworkers
To begin the conversation and gauge interest around our lunches, we passed flyers and sign up sheets around the office. These flyers included information about the lunches, what we would be talking about and our purpose of doing so. After about a week of conversation, we determined that we would have a significant amount of employees attending and proceeded with choosing TED talks and conversation topics.
What to “TED” About
When picking topics, be sure to choose options that make sense for you and your organization. Whether it be confidence in the workplace, the importance of meaningful communication or how to maintain a work-life balance, the topic should feel native to you and your group! Don’t be afraid to pick discussion topics that you are unfamiliar with, as this doesn’t always mean they aren’t relevant. Some of our most engaging discussions have come from TED talks that raise issues and topics we thought were foreign, but were actually extremely relevant.
How to Keep Your Coworkers Coming Back
Before we established a solid group of coworkers to attend, follow up was crucial to ensure we could keep the program going. By sending a quick recap note after the meeting to everyone who participated, you can:
- Highlight the important points you discussed during the lunch
- Get feedback on the topic and discussion
- Ask for suggestions for the next talk topic
- Thank everyone for coming and encourage them to join next time
- Plan and coordinate a day and time that works best for as many people as possible
These follow-ups are an important part of keeping your meetings going, so be sure to send one after every session.