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How to Host Effective Walking Meetings and Why?

8 min read
Last Updated on 20 June, 2024

Tired of lifeless conferences around a stagnant table? You're not alone. Many companies are now holding meetings outdoors and on foot to reenergize employees.

These walking meetings, also called walk-and-talks, are rising in popularity for good reasons. Stanford Report shows that walking boosts creativity by an average of 60%. Plus, it enhances focus, strengthens relationships, and reduces stress.

With sedentary lifestyles now a leading cause of death worldwide, what better way to improve well-being than combining meetings with exercise? More and more organizations, like HP, LinkedIn, and Red Hat, are catching on.

In this post, we'll break down the science-backed benefits of walking meetings. We'll also provide expert tips to help you:

  • Drive meaningful connections
  • Spark groundbreaking ideas
  • Improve team health and more

So, lace up your sneakers, and let's reimagine your next meeting on the move! The fresh air might inspire your team's creative thinking.

What is a Walking Meeting?

A walking meeting transforms your typical sit-down discussion into an active stroll. This unique approach fuels creativity and problem-solving, encourages physical activity, and builds closer team connections.

Perfect for brief one-on-one chats or small group brainstorming, these meetings make any conversation a breath of fresh air. It usually lasts about 15 to 20 minutes.

Benefits of Walking Meetings

Walking meetings aren't just a breath of fresh air—literally. They're a powerhouse for enhancing your team's health, creativity, and productivity. Here's why swapping your conference room for a stroll can be a game changer:

1. Boost in Creativity

Ever feel stuck during a brainstorm? Research by American Psychological Associations reveals walking meetings can enhance creative thinking by up to 100%. It's about changing your scenery and letting your ideas flow. So next time you hit a wall, hit the pavement instead. You might be surprised by the burst of creative solutions that come your way.

2. Surge in Engagement

Feel like your team's losing steam? Walking meetings can invigorate your crew. According to a study by Johnson & Johnson, participants felt 90% more energized. Another found an 8.5% boost in engagement levels. When your team is more engaged, they're not just working—they're innovating and thriving.

3. Enhanced Health

Sitting less means living more. The average office worker sits around 9 hours a day, so switching to walking meetings can dramatically reduce this. Just 30 minutes of walking every day can reduce the risks of major illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. Plus, it can also help you burn some calories.

Suggested Read: Everything You Need To Know About Calories Burned While Walking

4. Better Communication

Walking side by side breaks down formal barriers—literally and figuratively. Walking meetings strip away the office hierarchy, fostering open, honest dialogues. Expect a 5.25% increase in creativity and more productive outcomes as everyone feels more relaxed and open to sharing ideas.

5. Increase in Productivity

Ditch the distractions of a busy office. Walking in nature can lessen mental fatigue and sharpen focus. Though it's not suited for all meeting types, when it is, walking meetings can lead to clearer thinking and more focused discussions.

6. The Great Outdoors

Why stay indoors when you can tap into the therapeutic effects of nature? Research shows that even a short walk in nature can lower heart rate and blood pressure, boost immune function, and enhance cognitive skills. It's not just good for your body; it's a boon for your brain, too.

How to Host a Walking Meeting?

How-to-host-a-walking-meeting

Walking meetings are a fantastic way to infuse energy and creativity into routine discussions. Whether brainstorming new ideas or hashing out details, moving your meetings outdoors can increase engagement and healthier, happier team members. Here's how you can make your walking meetings a hit every time:

1. Plan with Purpose

Set the agenda. Just like any effective meeting, a walking meeting needs a clear agenda.

What's the goal? Are you brainstorming, making decisions, or touching base on ongoing projects? Keep it focused — remember, you're breaking out of the conference room for a reason!

2. Choose the Right Format

Ideal for groups of 2-4 people. Why? Smaller groups prevent side conversations and ensure everyone stays engaged. If you're working with a larger team, consider breaking into smaller clusters, then reconvene to share insights.

3. Include Step Challenges

Step-challenge

Enhance engagement by integrating step challenges into your agenda. Announce the step goals at the beginning of the meeting and track progress using fitness apps or pedometers. This small addition can energize participants and make the walking meeting even more impactful.

Suggested Read: 61 Unique Walking Team Names For Your Next Step Challenge

3. Assign Roles

In bigger groups, assign roles to keep things organized:

  • The Leader: Keeps the group focused and on the agenda.
  • The Guide: Knows the route and manages directions.
  • The Scribe: Takes notes and signals for breaks.

4. Prep the Participants

Give a Heads-up. Always inform participants ahead of time. This isn't just courtesy; it's crucial! They'll need comfy shoes and appropriate gear. A sudden walking meeting can catch people off-guard—not the best start.

5. Map It Out

Select a quiet, inspiring route. There could be a park nearby or a scenic path that sparks creativity. Avoid noisy streets where you must shout to be heard. The route length should match your meeting duration — usually, 15 to 30 minutes works well.

6. Keep it Inclusive

Accessibility is key. Ensure the route accommodates everyone. Avoid stairs or uneven paths if not all participants are comfortable with them. Remember, it isn't a race; it's a stroll that encourages conversation.

7. Equip Yourself

Use tech tools or old school tools. A digital recorder or a smartphone with a voice memo app can be great for capturing ideas without stopping to write. But never underestimate the power of a small notebook and pen — they don't run out of battery!

8. Mind the Weather

Plan B: The weather can be unpredictable. Have a backup plan for an indoor route or a reschedule option if needed. No one wants to brainstorm while battling a downpour or a heatwave.

9. Make It Enjoyable

Enjoy the walk. Encourage a light-hearted atmosphere. This isn't just another meeting; it's a chance to enjoy some fresh air and a change of scenery. A relaxed vibe often leads to better ideas and more open conversation.

10. Follow Up

Just because the setting was casual doesn't mean the outcomes should be. Follow up with a summary of the discussion and next steps. This shows the team that their ideas are valuable and that walking meetings produce real results.

Tips for Implementing Walking Meetings in the Workplace

1. Kick Things Off with Clarity

Before you lace up your sneakers, start with a clear announcement. Introduce your team to the idea of walking meetings with enthusiasm! Explain the why and the how—why they're beneficial (hello, creativity and better health!) and how they'll run. Guidelines aren't just red tape; they're the roadmap to making these meetings rock.

2. Walk the Talk

Guess what? Actions speak louder than words. Strap on those shoes and lead the first march. When employees see you making strides, they'll be quick to follow. It's all about setting the pace!

3. Buddy Up

Ever heard of the "Walking Meeting Buddy" system? Pair up! It's less daunting to start something new with a buddy, and it's a fantastic way to weave this new thread into the fabric of your company culture.

4. Dangle a Carrot

Who doesn't love a good incentive? It could be a shout-out in the next meeting, a point system for health benefits, or some cool swag for consistent walkers. Little perks can lead to big participation.

5. Equip Your Explorers

This isn't your typical boardroom setting. Think about what you'll need: portable note-takers, voice recorders, and some comfy walking pads. Map out safe, scenic routes that turn a mundane meeting into an adventure.

6. Make It Routine

Consistency is key. Slot walking meetings into your regular schedule. Tuesday mornings are for walking brainstorm sessions, or Thursday afternoons for reflective one-on-ones. The more regular it becomes, the more normal it will feel.

7. Educate on Proper Etiquette

Hold a quick session on walking meeting etiquette. Teach your team how to keep things private while in public, stay mindful of their surroundings, and keep everyone engaged—even if they're catching their breath!

8. Feedback Is Your Friend

What's working? What's not? After you've taken a few laps, gather feedback. This isn't just about taking a stroll; it's about making those strolls productive and enjoyable.

9. Volunteer Victory

Make sure everyone knows that this is a no-pressure situation. Walking meetings are a choice, not a mandate. Respecting personal comfort and abilities makes the whole idea more welcoming.

10. Plan B for Participation

Not everyone can join a walking meeting, and that's okay. Have alternatives ready, like virtual join-ins or stationary walk-and-talks for those with physical limitations.

11. Celebrate the Wins

Share the successes. Did a walking meeting lead to a breakthrough idea? Did someone's health improve? Celebrate these victories to reinforce the value and keep the momentum going.

Conclusion

Transforming traditional sit-down meetings into dynamic walk-and-talks refreshes the body and rejuvenates the mind. By stepping outside, we step up creativity, deepen team connections, and boost overall health.

So, why not lace up and lead your next meeting on the move? Could the fresh air be the secret ingredient your team's creativity has been missing?

Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is a walk-and-talk meeting?

A walk-and-talk meeting is an active alternative to the traditional conference room setup, turning a regular discussion into a walking one. It combines the benefits of physical movement with professional engagement.

2. How do you hold walking meetings, and why?

To host a walking meeting, start with a clear agenda, choose an appropriate route, and keep the group small. This method sparks creativity and combats the sedentary lifestyle that dominates modern work environments.

3. What is the psychology of walking meetings?

Walking meetings tap into the psychological benefits of movement and nature. The physical act of walking boosts endorphins and stimulates brain activity. In contrast, the outdoor setting reduces stress and fosters a more open, collaborative atmosphere.

4. How do you plan a walking meeting?

Plan your walking meeting by setting a focused agenda, selecting a scenic and quiet route, and preparing participants in advance. Ensure the path is accessible to all team members and consider weather conditions to keep the meeting enjoyable and productive.

Remember, the key to a successful walking meeting is not just the walk; the talk flows more freely with every step.

This article is written by Ritushree R Singh, who is a content writer and marketer at Vantage Fit. Besides having a curious heart with an avid taste for music, she relishes traveling to new places and exploring different cultures whenever possible. To get in touch, reach out to editor@vantagecircle.com

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