Should You Host a Walking Meeting?
Changing the scenery with meetings on the go can produce a more creative and honest environment.
Today’s workforce spends a lot of time sitting—at a desk, in meetings, in cars, on public transit. This sedentary lifestyle can make it hard for people to think outside of their day-to-day experiences and produce the kind of ideas or feedback you’d really like to get from them during a meeting. One way to spark professionals’ intellect and enhance brainstorming sessions is through a walking meeting.
Studies show that people are 60 percent more creative when they’re walking and walking-meeting participants are 8.5 percent more likely to be engaged. But before you grab a bevy of colleagues for a 2-mile trek around town, there are a few planning points to consider.
- Walking meetings are best for intimate conversations, so keep groups to no more than three people.
- Inform meeting participants in advance that they’ll be strolling during the session, so that they can dress appropriately (e.g., comfortable shoes, jackets).
- Plan walking routes that suit the time frame provided for the meeting — without making participants feel like they’re sprinting to the end.
Walking meetings can be great for breakout sessions, team-building activities or even self-reflective exercises. Make sure groups are provided with a clear task or outcome so that they stay focused, but don’t make it something so involved that they forget parts of the conversation. You may also want to establish etiquette for smartphone use during walking sessions, to keep people from using the time just to check email. (Notepads are difficult to use when on the move, so voicemails or memos can be helpful to keep track of discussion points.)
Indoor and outdoor walks are equally beneficial, so planners have plenty of options; if choosing the latter, consider heading to a special landmark to generate excitement. But avoid caloric destinations (think snack-food convenience stores or coffee shops) to retain the aerobic benefits of taking a stroll.