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In today's fast-paced and dynamic work environments, professionals are constantly striving to enhance their skills and stay updated with the latest trends and knowledge. However, finding the time to engage in continuous learning can be a challenge.
That’s where the brown bag session comes in, a simple yet versatile approach to having discussions during breaks. Sounds what you need, right?
In this article, we will dive into the world of brown bag meetings, exploring their types, benefits, and best practices for organizing successful sessions.
A brown bag session, also called a brown bag meeting or lunch and learn session, is an informal gathering held in the workplace during lunch hour or other short breaks. These sessions typically involve participants bringing their own lunch in paper brown bags, hence the name.
By creating a relaxed and informal atmosphere, brown bag sessions encourage active participation and engagement. They provide an opportunity for colleagues to share their knowledge, insights, and experiences, fostering a culture of continuous learning within the organization.
Unlike other types of meetings, which often require extensive planning and financial resources, brown bag sessions offer a more cost-effective alternative.
Brown bag meetings can be classified into four primary types based on the structure.
1. Seminar meeting
Most seminar meetings are held by a speaker or an expert who shares insightful information to improve the skills of your team members. The speaker might be someone who works in another organization or an experienced member of your organization.
Once the guest speaker shares insightful information, he/she answers questions to clarify different issues, making it easier for everyone to learn. Planning for a seminar involves identifying the key areas you are willing to work on and seeking expertise.
2. Small-group meeting
As the name hints, small group meetings are interactions between a few organization members. In this type of brown bag session, everybody gets a chance to share their ideas and ask questions.
Small group meetings boost teamwork and help you brainstorm different ideas. Since some members might be more experienced than others, sharing insightful information in small group meetings becomes quite easy.
3. Combination meeting
Also known as a hybrid meeting, this type of meeting has the properties of a seminar and a small group meeting. It starts off with guest speaking and transitions to small group meetings.
A guest speaker will talk for a certain period, and then the group will disperse to form smaller teams. A combination meeting makes it easier for members to share ideas and expand on some of the topics that the guest speaker might have discussed during the guest speaking session.
4. Social meeting
The social meeting type offers participants a chance to become acquainted with one another in a casual environment, thus building connections and trust.
It can look like a team picnic on the lawn where work-related discussions are intentionally avoided. Instead, members can talk about healthy lifestyles, investments, recommended restaurants in the city, and other topics that are beneficial.
Since the main purpose of brown bag meetings is to share and pass on information, team members will get insight into different topics after attending such meetings.
The thing is, what if other employees also want to learn?
Designed to record and transcribe conversations during meetings, Notta is an excellent tool that makes it easier for organizations to store data and information conveyed in discussions, making it possible to build a knowledge base accessible to everyone.
Brown bag meetings encourage individuals to connect with colleagues they may not typically interact with in their daily work, which will lead to new collaborations and strengthen cross-departmental teamwork.
Boost the morale of workers
An informal conversation helps relieve stress and foster employee engagement.
Besides, when co-workers support each other in a workplace, everyone gets the oomph to keep on pushing. If something goes haywire, other co-workers will step in and help each other during short break meetings like brown bag meetings.
Reinforces the organization’s mission, vision, and values
As time passes, various members of an organization often forget the company’s mission and values, especially if they are pretty busy. Brown bag meetings make it easier for you to remind your colleagues about the organization’s mission and values.
Even though it is an informal gathering, a brown bag meeting also needs some planning to go smoothly.
Decide whether it’s a meeting within the department or participants from other departments are welcome.
Then you can send an invitation that clearly communicates the objectives to participants so that everyone understands the focus and expectations.
A meeting agenda is necessary for every meeting to stay on track and end on time. So despite the meeting’s informality, we suggest creating an agenda that covers the general topics to be discussed and the meeting length.
At the beginning, you can emphasize the casual nature of the meeting.
Create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable contributing, for example, holding the brown bag session outdoors rather than in a closed conference room.
Moreover, you can ask open-ended questions to stimulate discussion and welcome any thoughts or new ideas.
Initiatives are campaigns that motivate teams to work towards certain goals through constant improvement. Most initiatives usually focus on business strategy, culture, and performance. Examples of initiative topics include:
Initiatives for balancing work with personal life
Pillars that promote kindness in a workplace
Workplace health initiatives
Career growth topics will give your colleagues some insight into career development. Such information covers professional development, skills improvement, job retention, and management. Below, we’ve listed a few brown bag meeting ideas, targeting career growth topics.
Networking to secure new opportunities
Skills that employers evaluate while hiring
Improving your skills in the workplace
Personal growth topics will provide information that guides your colleagues towards their personal goals. Here are a few personal growth topics:
Planning for retirement
Developing an optimistic mindset
Improving personal focus
And there you have it, everything you need to know about a brown bag meeting. It is an informative meeting that brings people together and improves workplace awareness.
Since a brown bag lunch meeting is informal in some way, everyone might be tempted to drive the discussion to other topics that might not be on the agenda.