how to host a brown bag meeting

Everything About A Brown Bag Meeting: Guide+Topics

Michael author profile imageMichael Chen
Jun 30, 20229 mins
What Is A Brown Bag Meeting 

While most meetings tend to focus on the same issues, it can be challenging to tell the difference between one type of meeting and another, especially in the post-covid era. However, each meeting has unique properties that set it apart from other meetings. 

Whether you are working from a remote location or an office, you’ll probably host a meeting at one point or the other. In this post, we will give you an insight into a brown bag meeting and how to prepare for one. Let’s dive in, shall we?

What Is A Brown Bag Meeting   

A brown bag meeting is an informal meeting held during lunch hour or other short breaks. The term ‘brown bag’ points out the brown bags that employees use to carry lunch and snacks. 

In this type of meeting, every employee carries lunch or snacks, saving your organization from extra dining costs. The main objective of holding such meetings is to train employees and share information.    

Not to mention, other types of meetings require a lot of planning and huge financing as compared to brown bag meetings.  

Types of Brown Bag Meetings

Brown bag meetings can be classified into different types based on the structure and the intent.

Based on the structure 

1. Seminar

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 can 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.

Based on the intent

1. Decision making 

A decision-making meeting involves ranking multiple solutions to come up with a solid decision.  

2. Consulting

The main purpose of a consultative meeting is to share opinions and seek insight from various individuals. In this type of meeting, you should evaluate different concepts from the perspective of your colleagues. 

3. Problem solving

‍A problem-solving meeting makes it easier for you to analyze the challenges you are facing as an organization. Once you analyze the challenges you are facing, everyone will suggest a course of action that can resolve such challenges.  

The Benefits of A Brown Bag Meeting 

Great source of information 

Since the main purpose of brown bag meetings is to share and pass on information, team members will get some insight into different topics after attending such meetings. And the thing is, during the pandemic, many organizations held virtual meetings due to covid 19 restrictions. 

With so many options and applications, some people found it challenging to save information using different tools. Designed to record meetings and transcribe audio during a virtual brown bag session, Airgram is an example of a tool that makes it easier for organizations to store data and information conveyed in discussions, making it possible to host productive meetings. 

Improve teamwork 

Encouraging members from different departments to discuss issues among themselves will strengthen organizational teamwork. They will collaborate while making decisions on how to tackle various challenges, too. 

Here’s a quick example of how team members can collaborate on a specific agenda:

Let’s say you are discussing something with your colleagues, and everybody comes up with a unique solution which can solve a particular problem. With a tool like Airgram, everyone can write their answer in a collaborative notepad in real-time. Once you’ve noted down different solutions, it becomes easier to find the best solution. 

Boosts the morale of workers

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 in 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. 

Improve the workplace conversation

Informal conversations can help team members wind down after working for long hours. The thing is, an informal conversation relieves stress, improving the productivity of your team members. Obviously, everyone feels at ease in a friendly environment.

How To Prepare for A Brown Bag Meeting

Step1: Define your audience

The first step is to define your audience. This makes it easier for you to know what you will discuss in the meeting. Your audience can be an online community, team members, employees, or classmates. 

Step 2: Create an agenda 

A meeting agenda covers talking points, topics, discussion info, and the tasks that will appear in a meeting. Start off by setting the goals you plan to achieve. Such goals should be based on the following aspects; information exchange, brainstorming, team building, task execution, and performance analysis. ‍

Next, ask for some input from potential participants while you are brainstorming topic ideas. Put down some notes to inform your team members about the topic’s angle. These are some of the most popular objectives of many topics; seeking input on how to solve a problem, sharing critical information, and making a crucial decision.  

Step 3: Write down your talking points          

Talking points are insightful ideas which can start a discussion. Such points will also steer meetings in the right direction. 

Extract your talking points from the agenda’s main points. Come up with short and simple points that are easy to comprehend, using the ‘rule of three’. List the three most crucial aspects of a certain concept.   

Step 4: Assign action items 

Most agendas are usually backed by tasks known as action items. Action items are tasks that need to be executed to achieve the desired goal. 

Well, you have to evaluate the three W’s while dealing with action items — what, who, and when. ‘Who’ refers to the team member who will handle the task, while ‘what’ briefly describes the task.

Topics You Can Discuss In A Brown Bag Meeting

Company initiative topics

Initiatives are campaigns which 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 crowth topics

Career growth topics will give your colleagues some insight into career development. Such information covers professional development, skills improvement, job retainment, 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 a workplace

Personal growth topics

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

Over To You

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. 

However, with a tool like Airgram, it becomes easier to focus on the main agenda and host insightful meetings. If you are looking for a tool to streamline such processes, Airgram might be ideal for you. 

Michael Chen

Michael started his career as a product manager and then developed a passion for writing. He has been writing on technology, remote working, productivity, etc., hoping to share his thoughts with more people.

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