Walking Meetings for Your Butt and Your Brain

by Health, Productivity

I love walking meetings. I try to have them as often as possible and typically know who will be game to do them. Walking meetings don't have to be power walks where you're sweating in your dress clothes. Even a slow stroll has loads of benefits.

Getting out of your boring, dark office can boost creativity. Getting out of the coffee shop can save you money. Walking while you're talking can lift your butt, your mood and inspire new ideas in your noggin.

Walking meetings typically work best with 2-3 people. When walking you can't be checking your phone under your desk or typing away on your email. You have to be focused on what the other person is saying. It's more conversational and is ideal for a hierarchical relationship. If you really want to know what someone is thinking remove the intimidation factor of your big desk and walk side by side.

The calorie burn of 1-2 walking meetings a week is good for your heart, your waistline and your health, however the break itself is good for productivity and would be considered hypertasking. If you plan to do one, follow these steps:

  • Make sure it's an area – park, sidewalk, greenway – that you know. This is not the time for exploring.
  • Try to do it in the morning if it is dead summer or in the afternoon in the winter. Alternatively, make it the last task of the day and you can go home when you're done.
  • Warn the person and make sure they are okay with it. Don't surprise them with a walking meeting on a day they are wearing a 3-piece suit or 3-inch heels.
  • Keep it short if you need to. This is not a time to show your physical prowess or prove how fast you can walk a mile.

How do I use walking meetings?

  • Meetings with my accountability partner Melissa Gheen of Productive Difference. We have meetings weekly by phone, Google Hangout or in person. We have an agenda and go through what we have done in the last week, what we are doing in the week coming up, bounce ideas off of each other and talk goals. For a walking meeting, we walk a little faster but definitely not power walk. Yesterday we walked 3.5 miles in one hour. We do have our phones so we can check our notes, but we aren't checking email or taking calls.
  • Social catch-ups with friends. When I could drink coffee, I loved coffee shop dates. Now that I am a Teeccino girl, coffee shops are no fun for me. Instead, I propose walking dates with my buddies. Just this week I did a walk with a friend around Lake Lynn with her dog. We got to catch up, we saved money, got some exercise, and spilled more secrets than we normally would have because we were side by side and not face to face (any runner knows this phenomenon).
  • 1 to 1 or first-time meetings with referral partners and contacts. I always ask first, keep it to 45 min or less and make sure the route is somewhat easy unless I know they are fit. Want to be memorable? Schedule a walking meeting.


Challenge this week: Find one meeting in the next week that you can change into a walking meeting. Attendee skeptical? Send them this post!

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jim west

Principal and Managing Director, GFF Architects