Lunch and Learn Wellness Speakers on a Budget

How to Find Lunch & Learn Wellness Speakers on a Limited Budget

I am often asked to recommend Lunch & Learn speakers for employers. Often, these requests for speakers are centered on a wellness topic. “We would like to have a speaker talk about nutrition,” they could say. Or they may ask, “Can you recommend someone to speak on the importance of sleep?”

The challenge comes when the organization’s budget is limited. Oftentimes, it is very limited, as in “Can we get a speaker for free?”  Free isn’t always available, but with some creativity, great Lunch & Learn (L&L) speakers can be found to fit any budget.

Below are a few ideas on how to find L&L wellness speakers for your organization.

Ask your insurance carriers. For wellness-related topics, your medical and ancillary insurance carriers are often a good first place to start, particularly if you are fully insured with a medical carrier. For self-funded clients, your TPA may be a good resource. We just scheduled a Yoga session for one of our clients with the TPA providing the instructor—at no charge to the employer. Ancillary carriers can also be a great resource.

Similarly, you can reach out to vendor partners. Your office furniture vendor may be able to recommend (or even supply) someone to speak on ergonomics in the workplace. Your financial management partner firm may supply an expert to discuss financial wellness. Your legal partners may be willing to provide presentations of interest to your employees.

Use the search function on LinkedIn. Simply enter the topic for which you would like to have a presentation. You can further define your search to your connections or your geographical location. I have found using LinkedIn helpful in finding speakers for our clients, particularly when I am looking for someone in a specific geographical area.

Reach out to local hospitals. A few years ago, we were looking for someone to speak on stress and mental health in the workplace. I contacted an HR friend at Emory University Hospital. He put me in touch with one of his colleagues, who in turn connected me with one of her colleagues who put together a great presentation for one of our clients for a very minimal charge. It went so well that we had her speak to another client. The downside is that she became so good at these presentations that she now charges $2,500 a session.

Expand your pool of potential speakers with virtual L&L presentations. Virtual presentations can cut down on the cost of L&Ls while allowing you to present to employees who are working remotely or from various locations. Furthermore, by going virtual, you can have live presentations from experts anywhere in the world. Your pool of potential guest speakers is dramatically increased! The key is to make the presentation unique to your organization and take advantage of virtual presentation tools to make virtual meetings engaging.

Be attentive. Watch and listen for good speakers. If you hear a good speaker, there is no harm in reaching out to them to see if they would be available. Even if their charge is outside your budget, it’s worth the ask.

Wellness companies can often supply speakers, even for organizations that have yet to formally partner with them.  One of our clients wanted a nutritional cooking demonstration. We were able to secure a presenter from a local employee wellness vendor who was willing to provide the presentation a la carte for this employer. Their fee was reasonable, and they filled a need for the employer.

Ask other employers for recommendations. If you are in HR, pick up the phone or send an email, asking other HR professionals who they would recommend for L&Ls. Fellow HR professionals are often willing to network and share both the positive and negative experiences they have had with speakers.

Don’t rule out free pre-recorded webinars. I have often recommended specific Ted Talks and TEDx presentations. Simply search for a topic in YouTube and carefully review the offerings. On several occasions, I have recommended Kelly McGonigal’s “How to Make Stress Your Friend” TED Talk to an employer for an L&L. These online recorded talks often provide a much higher quality of speaker than you can find locally. To heighten engagement, provide a quiz to employees after the presentation.

Local universities and schools can be resources. If you have a contact at a local school, reach out to them to see who may be available to speak to your employees.  Universities often provide experts in their fields. However, be sure to vet the speaker to ensure they will resonate with your employees.

I certainly hope one of the ideas above will be a springboard to your next great Lunch & Learn.


Jack W. Bruce, Director of Population Health Wellbeing

  • Population Health
  • Employee Wellness & Wellbeing
  • Human Resources
  • Instructor for Adult Mental Health First Aid
  • Instructor for Youth Mental Health First Aid
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