Working and Learning a With Brown Bag Presentation: Benefits and Drawbacks

career advice presentation advice Nov 03, 2022
man waving in front of data sign with woman standing next to him

Working and Learning a With Brown Bag Presentation: Benefits and Drawbacks

These Informal Meetings Can Be a Great Way to Educate Colleagues About Data Science

As I have discovered, brown bag presentations can be a great way to inform your colleagues of exactly what a data scientist does and how you can help them do their jobs better. Sometimes called lunch and learn sessions or brown bag lunches, these meetings can be vital to your company, especially when you have a situation where workers perform more than one role and are constantly learning new skills.

Some of the benefits of a brown bag presentation or lunch and learns include:

  • They share knowledge for cross training
  • Colleagues learn something new about other jobs at their company
  • It is possible to explore a topic in greater detail while also in an informal setting
  • They foster a company’s goal of continuous learning and improvement
  • They permit the leveraging of expertise within a company and foster a culture of learning
  • They can have an incredible ROI since they are essentially free 

Brown Bag Presentations: My Experience

Once, when working at a small software company, a colleague asked me if I could share with her team the steps involved in selecting and analyzing a sample. My initial feeling was that no one would be interested, but the signup sheet that we set out was soon full. 

My second feeling was that those who showed up would be bored, but that was not the case either. The meeting was standing room only!

Based on my experience, I have some advice for data scientists looking to host a brown bag presentation:

  • Read your audience: Will everyone know what data mining is? Will everyone know what an algorithm is? Or does everyone already have a basic understanding of the terms and techniques used in data analysis? Do not risk alienating your audience by diving deep into industry jargon.
  • Choose your topics carefully: This relates to the point above. Anything too technical will likely reduce the size of your audience and the potential impact of your presentation. One idea is to solicit ideas for what to talk about – you can post a simple poll with suggested topics, or let colleagues send in ideas for talks they would like to hear.
  • Book a time and place: The lunch hour is a great idea for these talks since people are at work but in a more relaxed mode. Planning to order some food? Make sure you have a signup sheet so you know how many people to expect and can have the right amount of food or drink on hand.
  • Have some notes made up ahead of time: These talks are informal, so you do not need to have a fancy presentation ready, but do have some ideas in mind for what you plan to address and what should be covered.

Learn How to Make the Most of Your Presentation

I have written in more detail about brown bag presentations for data scientists. Make sure to visit my social media pages to post more questions you may have about data science.

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