Want to breathe fresh life into your meetings and foster out-of-the-box thinking? Then get your colleagues out of the [office] box and thinking on their feet. They’ll be more alert, more energised and more creative. They might even get along with each other better.
Beyond the obvious health benefits, walking meetings have a range of advantages. Walking has been proven to boost creative thinking and inspiration. Concentration and focus are enhanced during and after physical activity. Walking can break down the normal workplace formality and foster camaraderie and relationship building.
Are walking meetings already common in your workplace or would introducing one be a radical step? Either way, these tips will get you on the right path to hosting effective walking meetings. Don’t just sit there, get moving!
Benefits of walking meetings
Physical activity! Need we say more? The average office worker spends up to six hours of work time and ten hours of awake time sitting on their behind. Walking meeting are a great way to get the blood pumping which leads to more energized and alert participants. A well timed walking meeting can beat the post lunch slump and turn the least productive time of day into the most productive.
Walking breaks down formal structure for a while and can build camaraderie between colleagues. If you have colleagues who don’t get along so well, or who often take opposing view points, try taking them out for a walk. Walking side by side rather than sitting opposite at a table can influence communication style and enhance the ability to take on different perspectives.
Fresh air and fresh ideas
The old cliché of pacing back an forth while trying to solve a problem or come up with new ideas is not based on fiction. A study at Stanford University showed that walking increases creative thinking and problem solving ability. The researchers examined creativity levels of people while walking versus while sitting. Creative output was on average 60 percent higher when walking. They also found that creativity continued even after the person sat down again following a walk.
Getting out and seeing something new is a great way to shift perspective and break the habits of daily office life. Getting fresh air and direct sunlight, especially in the winter months, can make a big difference to concentration, clarity of mind and job satisfaction.
Read our post on how to maintain momentum after a meeting
Seven tips to get you on the path to success
- Walking meetings are best for small groups or one-on-one meetings. For larger groups mix walking and sitting along the way. If you are an even numbered group, try pairing up to discuss a topic or question and report back when you are all together again.
- Walking meetings don’t suit every situation, so make sure it’s appropriate. Trying to give a presentation on a trip around the park isn’t going to work. For delicate or difficult conversations, the formality and privacy of a meeting room is best.
- Prepare and set the agenda as you would with all meetings. Use stops along the way to punctuate the agenda. Take an iPad or smartphone so you can refer to agenda items and take quick notes or voice record a summary of key points.
- Choose the route ahead of time. This makes it easier not to get distracted or add extra decisions along the way. In a bigger group, appoint a leader to guide the journey.
- Ask people to turn phones off or leave them at the office. One benefit of walking meetings is that distractions are minimized. Take advantage of this.
- Give advanced warning that it will be a walking meeting. This way participants can plan for appropriate clothing and footwear.
- If it's new and a bit weird in your company, don't be afraid to set an example. Communicate the benefits and success of your walking meetings and the idea will soon catch on. Lead the way!
FirstAgenda’s digital meeting tool optimizes the administration, preparation and follow-up of meetings. One of its advantages is that it is can be accessed both online and offline, making it perfect for walking meetings. It’s already used by more than 30,000 professionals. Will you be next? Read more on our website.