3 minute read

Preparing for a lunch and learn

As some of you may be aware, I recently started a new job and was inspired to create a lunch and learn. For those who are not aware of what that it is, a lunch and learn is a presentation during lunch. lel Oftentimes, the general intention is to share something of value to others, be it a technical, business, or general life topic. At my current company, I am very fortunate to be in a culture where learning is very much actively promoted.

When I was formulating my presentation, I received several different tips from my peers and I thought it might be a good idea to write them down for others who may be interested.


  • Remember, it is called a Lunch and Learn for a reason, emphasis on the lunch part. Don’t worry about being the best presenter as, by virtue of you giving a presentation, the people are already happy
  • The second part of the event is the learning aspect. Try to distill your content into organized sections that help people to take better to the topic. It will defeat the purpose of the content isn’t grasped at all by your audience
  • Have fun and be silly! The lunch and learn is a time for you to showcase your talent, creativity, and knowledge about a certain topic. Own it!
  • Don’t think you have to be the Subject Matter Expert (SME) of the topic that you’re discussing. Others can help provide context or comments to your topic and focus on giving people a teaser of the wider area of knowledge to be explored, post talk
  • Don’t take too long to formulate your slides and don’t get too caught up in yourself. Just put your head down and deliver some content that will fit in the time allotted
  • Always leave room for questions at the end, and some time for people to enter in to the venue to get their food.
  • Good tactics for explaining content are: compare and contrast, introduction of new ways of doing things
  • Make sure to maintain eye contact and set up the presentation like any other. Be confident

Those are my tips for now, but I’ll be sure to revise this list if I think of any others.

In the sections below, I write about my own personal experience this time around in preparation for my talk. {.notice–info }


  • peruse different areas of discussion, trying to think of a greater theme of my content
  • look into interesting programming theory that I’m not aware of
  • try to find the intersection of theory and practical knowledge
  • I had an engineer walk by and ask me about something pertaining to reactive programming, streams, and Observables. I was able to help him resolve it and I thought that it would be a good discussion to have, seeing as the whole world of reactive is growing quickly and beyond the web


  • Attend a few lunch and learn sessions and get a feel for the flow of things, objectives, atmosphere and context
  • Talk to a more senior engineers about how best to structure and prepare for a lunch and learn
  • Watch lots of great speakers, particularly James Mickens for hilarity
    • Here’s a link to one of my favourite talks of his, on JavaScript
  • Look at the slides of other successful lunch and learns and draw more inspiration from them


  • An important piece of this work is to distill exactly what sort of information can be presented in the time frame and what is good to learn about
    • no point learning super niche information that 10% of the audience will understand and even fewer will benefit from
    • consider how much time you have to work with and plan accordingly
    • so important, I have to say it again! You have to be very choosy in how best to use the time allocated
  • Get slides reviewed, clean up animations, be consistent in font and formatting
  • ADD SUPER CLEAR NOTES, and use hidden slides when necessary (for demo-ing purposes that you would otherwise show in a live setting)
    • consider again that some readers may not necessarily have the strongest commmand of the programming or presenting language, and try to avoid references or speaking/writing indirectly


Anywho, I hope these tips have been helpful. I plan to write a follow-up post on my post-mortem of the lunch and learn. It will be on November 1st, on an Introduction to Reactive Programming. Wish me luck!