“In short, we find that those who participate in walking meetings are 5.25% more likely to report being creative at their jobs than those who do not. Additionally, the responses suggest that walking meetings support cognitive engagement, or focus, on the job. Those who participate in walking meetings are 8.5% more likely to report high levels of engagement.” — Russell Clayton, Christopher Thomas, Jack Smothers, Harvard Business Review
Do you pace when you’re on the phone? Do you itch to stand up in a meeting and walk around? Do you do your best thinking when you’re on the move? Walking, thinking, and creativity are linked. Research published in the Journal of Experimental Psychology by Marily Oppezzo and Daniel L. Schwartz of Stanford University found that, walking, whether outside or on a treadmill, substantially enhanced the research participants’ creativity by two different measures - creative thinking and novel ideation. Across three different sitting walking experiments, 81%, 88%, and 100% of participants were more creative walking than sitting. What’s most interesting is that 100% of those who walked outside generated at least one novel high-quality analogy compared with 50% of those seated inside.
“The majority of meetings should be discussions that lead to decisions.” — Patrick Lencioni
how to conduct a walking meeting
Steve Jobs held walking meetings. Mark Zuckerberg is a fan. Richard Branson has been know to walk and meet. We love these seven simple steps from First Agenda that you can take to start standing meetings, today.
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 along 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!
Finally, words of advice from Kara Goldin, founder and CEO of Hint about how to make sure that your walking meetings have meaning, “When you return from your walk, make notes before you get distracted by your inbox, phone and everything else going on in your day. You won’t have scribbled post-its or an Evernote to look back later so this is your only chance to capture any major takeaways. It’s helpful to call out these key points during the meeting. Simply saying ‘let’s make sure we remember that’ is a great way of ensuring something sticks in your mind. It also encourages more active listening during the meeting.”