How to Plan the Perfect Walking Meeting
Walking meetings enhance creativity and collaboration, and they’re good for your health, too! Here are some tips for planning one.
Office workers spend an average of 9.3 hours each day sitting, so it’s unsurprising that some health experts call sitting the new smoking. Many illnesses and health conditions, such as breast cancer, colon cancer, heart disease, and Type 2 Diabetes, have been linked to our lack of physical activity, making jobs that require us to sit all day problematic. Author and walking meeting proponent Nilofer Merchant says she used to think “you could take care of your health, or you could take care of your obligations, and one always came at the cost of the other.”
But what if there were a way to do both?
The Solution Is As Simple As Walking
For many, walking meetings may be the answer: good for your physical and mental health, and good for your productivity, too.
It’s easy to find research documenting the benefits of walking meetings (hint: you can show this to your boss!). For instance, a 2014 report from Stanford University indicates that walking has a positive impact on creative thinking. Harvard Business Review says walking meetings can facilitate team building and break down hierarchical barriers while also increasing employee engagement.
Tips for Planning Your Walking Meeting
If you’d like to organize your own walking meeting, we can help!
Can Your Meeting Be a Walk and Talk Meeting?
First, determine if your meeting can be conducted without internet or visuals, and how many people need to attend. Groups larger than five may have trouble conversing while walking and may subdivide into smaller groups. One-on-one check-ins, brainstorming, and problem-solving meetings work best.
Give a Heads Up
Give your colleagues at least several days’ notice that you’ll be doing a walking meeting and encourage them to dress comfortably (or at least wear comfortable footwear). Don’t forget your sunglasses, a hat, and other outdoor accessories.
Consider the Needs of the Group
Consider the needs of the group. Not everyone will be up for an hour-long, uphill walk while you discuss marketing strategies. Keep your walking meeting to 30 minutes or less. If you need to meet longer, find a way to take breaks during the walk or find a place to take a seat for a break.
Plan Your Route
Choose flat streets with wide sidewalks and less traffic if you can (and if it’s the summer, shade!). Consider how busy the neighborhood is throughout the day and try to meet during a quieter time.
Avoid Turning Your Walking Meeting into Just Another Coffee Break.
Going to a coffee shop can undermine your focus. A better idea: Walk to a fun landmark in the neighborhood instead, like a favorite park, historical marker, or plaza with outdoor seating.
Create an Agenda and Share It in Advance So Participants Can Prepare.
Treat this like any other meeting. It should still have goals and a purpose.
Accommodate Walking Note-Taking.
There are several ways to document your meeting outcomes and to-dos, depending on your preference. Small notebooks and pens allow people to take handwritten notes along the way. You can also assign one person the role of note-taker and rotate that role within the team if it’s a regular meeting. Participants can jot down any reminders or notes using their cell phone note-taking apps. Use your cell phone’s voice memo function or a free app like Otter.ai to record and simultaneously transcribe conversations.
Try It Out
Will you try a walking meeting anytime soon? Drop us a line and let us know how it goes, and what you learned along the way!