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Have you heard of Lunch and Learn workshops?

Lunch and Learn workshops are short courses

"Lunch & Learn" events are short professional development courses organised at lunchtime. It's a great opportunity to eat, learn & grow for busy professionals. Read our case study.

Lunch and Learn

Case study of a Lunch and Learn workshop

New Reflections had the great pleasure to run Lunch & Learn workshops for the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust employees. We delivered soft professional development training sessions directly in-house at their office to make the most of their lunch break.

Participants enjoy ongoing interactive soft skills workshops in a very friendly and collaborative environment. The group is always highly engaged through fun and participative training activities and exercises.

Let us walk you through a typical session with this beautiful team of professionals through one of the first sessions for which the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust selected ‘The Art of Small Talk’.

The program outlines for this practical “art of small talk” workshop were as followed:

  • Approaching others and engaging the conversation with strangers

  • Leveraging the best icebreakers and conversation starters

  • Maintaining interest and building on the conversation

  • Making the best exit when engaged in small talk conversations

  • Apply the learning to real-life scenarios

"Art of small talk" Lunch & Learn workshop

“Small talk is where it all begins”…

We engage in small talk all day long with almost everyone from co-workers to friends, family members, new acquaintances, and collaborators, as well as strangers. Small talk is the informal conversation that precedes the more serious and more important one. The art of small talk or the art of little conversation (« l’art de la petite conversation » in French) is a skill we can develop and strengthen. For some of us, it appears more or less natural to engage in the conversation; for others, it requires a bit of practice and the right tools.

When most people associate small talk with talking to strangers in new situations such as professional networking events, small talk is also a way to reinforce existing relationships. When we meet someone for the first time, it is important to master the art of small talk to give a positive and good first impression; when we catch up with someone we haven't spoken with for some time, the same small talk skills will assist in quickly rebuilding rapport and trust.

The advantages of mastering small talk are unlimited. To focus on the impactful ones we can say that within the professional environment, small talk is beneficial for success and in the personal arena it can lead to long-lasting personal relationships.

Small talk is an excellent icebreaker and conversation starter

One of the main small talk challenges is to approach someone and engage this person in a conversation. What should you say? How to ‘break the ice’? The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust employees learned easy-to-use icebreakers and conversation starters for any situation.

When intending to start a conversation, it is essential to be approachable and to be able to keep the other person at ease; that is the ABC of elegance. Maud, New Reflections’ Learning & Development Expert, gave the team easy-to-use tools to face all kinds of situations from personal to professional events.

Small talk topics to develop

The art of small talk does not stop there; once you manage to break the ice, what can you talk about? Weather, work, sport, travels, family… Is there a list of topics to avoid?

There are no good or bad responses here; simply choose the topics you enjoy talking about and show interest in your interlocutor’s answers. Prepare a few topics you are comfortable talking about to prepare for small talk conversations.

Alright, it may not be true to say that there are no “wrong” topics for small talk conversations. You will probably want to stay away from anything that will be controversial such as politics, religion, money, or anything relevant based on the context.

Most people will ask you what you do for work and it can be a great idea in a professional context or if you are passionate about your job. However, as not everyone is excited about what they do for a living, it is interesting and relevant to encourage people to share about their hobbies. You will see their entire communication changing and becoming more vivid, enthusiastic and passionate. As they will often return the question to you, you will engage in a pleasant conversation that doesn’t stop with an awkward silence after the first round of introduction.

Finally, the “here and now” is always a good conversation starter and a good indicator of people’s interest. If you are in the same place for the same reasons, you already have something in common with the people around you. Leverage the environment, the location, the music, the people, and the subject of the conference or event to engage the conversation with new people.

Obviously, if you are attending a political seminar, politics is back on the table as a topic of choice.


As the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust did, invite New Reflections monthly or at a different frequency to enjoy unique Lunch and Learn or Latte and Learn training sessions!


Tips to keep a conversation flowing

Once you manage to engage in a conversation, your goal is to keep building the discussion. If you want to avoid awkward silences, you have to be ready for this step.

To keep building the conversation, you need to listen, observe, ask questions and remember the answers. Small talk is not about asking one question after another and moving from one topic to the next one as in a police interrogation process. If you anticipate your next question or your response instead of strictly listening and trying to connect with your interlocutor, you will always find small talk challenging.

Maud shared excellent tools and models with the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust talents. One of the shared tools that you can easily use in small talk is the A.R.E. method. The A.R.E. method explains how to balance your conversation.




First, you need an Anchor, to find common ground with the person you are talking to.

Then Reveal, reveal information about yourself, and share a bit.

Finally, Encourage, encourage the person to share; follow up with questions.

You can decide to reveal first and then encourage the other person or you might find it easier to initiate the talk with a question before revealing more about yourself. Both ways will work well as long as you balance the conversation flow between sharing about yourself and asking about the other person.

How to make a polite exit in 3 steps?

Making an exit can be as challenging as it is to start a conversation or keep building it. On some occasions, coming to a conclusion and finding a way to make a polite exit is the trickiest part of the discussion.

To assist the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust talents with this step, Maud shared a great 3 steps method.

Here are the 3 steps to make an exit when engaged in small talk :

1. Rephrase something you liked about the discussion – Offer a conclusion.

“It is always a pleasure to meet someone as interested in… as I am”, “That was great talking about … and …” “I really enjoyed our chat”

2. Announce your departure.

“I will have to go now”, “I have seen someone I want to talk to”, “I will get some food”…

3. Say goodbye

“Bye for now”, “Goodbye”, “See ya mate”

Do not justify yourself too much and only refer to the future if you mean it and want it. You should not say “Let’s catch up again” if you don’t plan on seeing this person again.

Lunch and learn workshops feedback

During the workshop, the participants were very receptive and took part in the different practical exercises with a lot of enthusiasm. They enjoyed the team-building opportunity and learned a lot about the fine art of small talk.

They will remember the importance of listening to names as well as how to politely join a group that has already been formed. They will also keep in mind conversation starters as well as how to introduce themselves. Finally, they will focus on finding common ground and thinking about what they want to communicate.

The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust participants' feedback for this training was very positive. Participants “Enjoyed it” and found it “Great! Not too long or short. Just enough practical time to benefit from”. They find Maud “very informative”, “friendly” and “easy to relate to”.

We look forward to working with them again next month!

As the Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust did, invite New Reflections monthly or at a different frequency to enjoy unique Lunch and Learn or Latte and Learn training sessions!


New Reflections’ case studies help you understand how your favourite soft skills training centre works with different clients and organisations. Those reviews are made to showcase the creative ways we developed to bring professional development learning solutions to your talents. We do offer regular training workshops in classrooms, but we also go the extra mile when you are looking at new fun ways to bring professional development short courses to your teams. From training sessions in the park, soft skills amazing races, online programs, and lunch and learn short courses, we sure innovate to respond to your evolving workplace reality.

From our clients' needs to the solutions, we designed and the results we delivered, follow the successful journeys of our training participants.

Lunch & learn workshops organised for: The Sydney Cricket and Sports Ground Trust Head Office Team


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