Walk the talk - meetings on foot

The coffee shop and board room are being superseded as walking meetings become increasingly popular in corporate Australia.   Walking and talking is a great way to boost creativity and solve problems, with businesses embracing the opportunity to get out of the office and meet KPIs at the same time. 
 
Walking meetings also align closely with corporate well-being.  Recognising the role that exercise plays in having a healthy, happy workforce means that walking meetings can fit nicely into the mix. 
 
Creative thinking improves while a person is walking. A study completed by Stanford University reveals that creativity levels are significantly raised in this context*. 
 
Steve Jobs, the late co-founder of Apple, was known for his walking meetings. Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg has also been seen holding meetings on foot. In fact, most of us have likely paced back and forth on occasion to drum up ideas.
 
Here’s where walking meetings can really work for you and your colleagues:
 
If you need to have a difficult conversation
Walking meetings are really useful in this context.  Being side by side is less confrontational and takes away the need for constant eye-contact which can make for a clunky uncomfortable experience for everyone.
 
Pre-meetings
Taking a stroll with a few colleagues can be a great way to set the agenda for a more formal meeting. A more structured environment may be necessary to allow for corporate governance and minute taking.
 
If you work in a creative field such as marketing or advertising
People in these fields often get their best ideas with a bit of crazy, lateral thinking.  Being in the fresh air and pumping extra oxygen into the system produces endorphins and is energizing.  This can really help a brainstorming session and lay the foundations for a more strategic approach when back in the office.

In a mentoring situation
In Australia and around the world, a group called Mentor Walks has been established to connect established leaders with emerging female leaders.  Participants are invited to take a one-hour walk, once a month, where they can talk through their personal and professional successes, challenges and aspirations. “Because you can’t take notes in this environment the participants come away remembering the most important insights gained in their conversation.  It seems to be a great way of distilling key learnings,” says co-founder Adina Jacobs.
 
When setting up your next walking meeting keep in mind a few things to make sure it runs smoothly.   Smaller groups are best as it can become difficult to hear more than four or five people together.  Choose a quiet route in your local park or on a walking path.  Check the weather and pre-warm colleagues so they are dressed for the occasion – probably not the day to wear your heels!



* ”Give your ideas some legs: The positive effect of walking on creating thinking”, Oppezzo, Marily, Schwartz, Daniel L (Graduate School of Education, Stanford University) Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition, vol 40(4), July 2014, 1142-1152.

 

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