What if you could increase your energy, enhance your concentration and creativity, enjoy more time outside, and increase your daily steps, all without adding anything extra to your calendar? Sound too good to be true? Walking meetings accomplish this! Let me explain a little further.
What is a walking meeting?
As Russell Clayton defined in this Harvard Business Review article “a walking meeting is simply that: a meeting that takes place during a walk instead of in an office, boardroom, or coffee shop where meetings are commonly held.”
Really, are walking meetings worth the effort?
We’ve all heard that prolonged sitting is potentially as detrimental to our health as smoking; and that most of us will benefit from more incidental movement. Shane O’Mara, author of the book In Praise of Walking: The New Science of How We Walk and Why It’s Good for Us, says “think of walking as something which lowers our blood pressure, aids the passage of food through our intestines, reduces inflammation, allows us to be creative and better at problem-solving and helps build resilient brains.”
Feeling the afternoon energy slump? Then schedule your walking meetings for mid-afternoon. Walking increases oxygen flow through the body. It can also increase levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine. Those are the hormones that help elevate energy levels. There’s even research to support that going for a walk may be a more effective energy boost than a cup of coffee.
In addition to the many health benefits, walking meetings increase connection with the people we’re meeting. There’s something about being side-by-side that breaks down hierarchical barriers and assists conversation to flow. Another connection bonus, when we are walking, we are more likely to have our phones away and are able to give our full attention.
Research confirms that walking increases our creativity and that exposure to direct sunlight and natural elements relates positively to job satisfaction and organisational commitment. Don’t gloss over that sentence; enhancing creativity and employee engagement (and realising the associated benefits, including higher customer satisfaction and profitability), could be as simple as leading by example and facilitating regular walking meetings yourself and encouraging others to the same.
Who do I meet with whilst walking?
Walking meetings might not suit everyone and certainly don’t suit meetings with larger groups or meetings where audio-visual materials are required. But if you are meeting with one or two people and the objective of the meeting is to connect, collaborate and/or brainstorm, then walking and talking is ideal. Channel your inner Steve Jobs who reportedly was a fan of walking meetings, especially if it was the first time he was meeting someone. Walking meetings are effective with colleagues, clients and vendors, in person and over the phone.
How to do walking meetings
After reading HBR’s How to Do Walking Meetings Right, I set up a call with one of the article’s authors Russell Clayton, to uncover further tips. Clayton shared that walking meetings work particularly well when the:
- Intention to walk is set up ahead of time
- Walk has a destination in mind, for example a point of interest and/or ends at a coffee shop
- Time parameters of the meeting are defined.
Clayton also recommended recording meeting outcomes as you would in any other meeting and that this can be easily accomplished with a voice memo app. In my experience, Siri works a treat! You can also use Fantistical to create tasks from your iPhone, read here for more information.
Ready to convert a couple of your upcoming meetings to walking meetings? Most people I invite to walking meetings respond very positively! Here’s what I write in an email to set up a walking meeting:
I’m grateful for any opportunity to enjoy a walking meeting (read more here about their many productivity benefits). If you are up for a walk and talk we could start at < the meeting point> and finish at <possibly a café, or back at the office>. As much as I am a huge proponent of walking meetings, I totally understand and respect if you’d rather skip the walk and meet in the office.
For more tips about effective meetings, see my blog post here.
What tips stand out for you? What could walking meetings do for your productivity, energy and engagement at work?
Thanks for reading and sharing this post, I look forward to hearing from you.