One of the many benefits of chamber membership is the learning that is available to members. That learning extends to every employee and can be quite a valuable selling point if the Lunch & Learn topics and webinars you offer are important to member businesses and their employees.
But how do you find those enticing subjects and where do you get speakers who will present without breaking your budget?
We’re here to help with lunch and learn topic ideas for your chamber.
The topics we are about to give you have worked for other chambers and membership organizations. But you can also brainstorm your own in the following ways:
How to Come up with Popular Lunch & Learn Topics
The best topics are (of course) ones that your members will love. While there are national trends of popular topics (we’ll get to those in a bit), sometimes the best topics are the ones that people in your area are the most concerned with. But how do you figure out what those are? Here are a few ways to come up with the type of topics that will bring in a crowd.
- Look at op-ed comments in your local paper. Is there a critical local issue that you can bring in both sides to discuss?
- Join a community group on Facebook. What are group members talking about?
- Survey your members and ask them what they’re most interested in.
- Ask your staff what they want to learn.
- Look at the calendar. What’s coming up that is of great importance to business (such as tax filing season or something your city is doing). Bring in speakers who can give attendees the information they need.
- Look for inspiration in other areas or among other groups. For instance, is there something the PTA is talking about?
- Speak to your small/middle-sized employers. What do their employees want or what do they wish their employees had?
What if you’re not in the mood to come up with fresh ideas or maybe you simply don’t have the time to do the research? Don’t worry. The Chamber Pros can help.
Here are some ideas they’ve used in their own chambers:
Popular Lunch & Learn Topics for Chambers
There was a recent conversation about popular Lunch & Learn topics on the Chamber Pros Facebook group. Here are a few stellar suggestions for your fall lineup:
- Dealing with Difficult People. Patrick H. McGaughey of ChamberMentor.com recommended this topic and pointed out that the best training in handling difficult people is attending parenting classes. He suggested, “Find a great instructor through your hospital.” He added a marketing suggestion to bill it as, “How Parenting Classes Improve Management Skills. After all, what do difficult people act like?”
- Travel Planning. This topic may not be one you had thought of but these days with travel challenges becoming more the norm, having a professional to assist you is a great idea. But if you’ve never used one for your business, you may have many questions. Peggy Darragh-Jeromos said they had a travel agent “talk about the benefits of using an agent… showed great pics from her travels around the world and her presentation went over really well.”
- Community Updates. Peggy Darragh-Jeromos also shared that her chamber gets updates from the two member health systems in their membership, also updates from local foundations about their work, and updates from the library on their resources. You might be amazed at what local libraries offer these days including museum passes, subscriptions to language applications, tax resources, and much more. Shannon Rosamond Walker of the Aurora Chamber of Commerce added that updates about business safety/security from the police and fire departments, as well as a City update from the mayor or city manager can be a draw.
- Cyber Security. Many small businesses think cybercrime targets only large companies. Small businesses are disproportionately targeted because they don’t have strong defenses in place. During COVID, small businesses fell victim to ransomware. The perpetrators had obtained information on the COVID loans the businesses received and coincidentally asked for the same amount they were given as ransom. Everyone is at risk these days, but many small businesses don’t know who to turn to for information.
- Social Media Marketing. Many of your members don’t have the staff or knowledge they need to be successful in this area. Helping them learn the basics can be vital to their business’ success.
- Active Shooter. It’s a topic none of us want to talk about but being prepared for a worst-case scenario can make a big difference in the safety of your employees and customers. Donnette Silva Carter said their Business Safety-Active Shooter Preparedness program was highly attended. They partnered with their local theater to host and their police department presented. There may also be businesses in your area that would be willing to put on a program.
Other solid performing titles include:
- Effective Planning for Business Growth
- Bids & Business
- Business Ethics “Do’s & Dont’s”
- Network Efficiently
- Minority Certification Process
- Crucial Conversations
- Stress Management (the Sauk Valley Area Chamber of Commerce had a large group for this topic)
- the DISC Profile/personality profiles discussion
- Industry Updates from local industry leaders
- Candidate Luncheon
- Using Canva, Constant Contact, or other common business software
A great topic is only half of the program. You need someone to present as well.
Here are a couple of economical ideas on ways to find speakers.
Finding a Presenter for Your Lunch & Learn
If you don’t have the budget, or have only a meager one, then you must get creative with your choice of speakers. While you can always use a speaker website, sometimes their rates are greater than your budget allows.
If you’re looking for budget-friendly options, here are a few ideas:
- Call upon staff to teach what they know.
- Get in touch with your local college and find someone on staff who is a subject matter expert.
- Approach a business member with knowledge on your topic. Give them an opportunity to mention their own services or products at the end of the session or invite them to give away an offer of some type to build their email list.
- Contact a neighboring chamber and invite them to speak or ask them if they know anyone with economical speaking fees.
- If you’re a member of ACCE or WACE or some other professional organization, see if you can get a speaker through them.
- Look for a podcast in your area of interest and see if they’d be willing to present. You can do an online webinar if they’re not in your area and you can’t afford travel expenses.
- Research social media groups and approach a subject matter expert there.
- Ask your network for someone.
Lunch & Learn topics and educational events are a strong way to offer your members something that’s difficult for them to do themselves. Small businesses can struggle to plan and implement training and ongoing education for their employees.
If you know your presentation schedule in advance (for the whole year or the next six months), share it with your members so that they can plan and add it to their own training.