Fierce Excerpts: HBR discusses the “walking meeting”—and how to do it right.

by | Aug 5, 2015 | Creative Process, Fierce Excerpts

image from

Now Reading | How to do a Walking Meeting Right

I have never heard of a walking meeting before today and I am intrigued. Apparently it is a new trend to “walk and talk” instead of sitting in a board room all day around the conference room table.

According to HBR:

Recent research finds that the act of walking leads to increases in creative thinking. This certainly supports the usefulness of walking meetings. Plenty of anecdotal evidence also suggests that walking meetings lead to more honest exchanges with employees and are more productive than traditional sit-down meetings.

The article goes on to say that Dr. Eytan, Medical Director of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Total Health and a vocal advocate of walking meetings, believes walking meetings lead to better employee engagement by breaking down barriers between supervisor and subordinate or between coworkers. He sees the bonding achieved through walking meetings as a micro version of the bonding that can be experienced when coworkers travel together on business trips. David Haimes, a senior director of product development at Oracle, has experienced this in his meetings with team members: “The fact that we are walking side-by-side means the conversation is more peer-to-peer than when I am in my office and they are across a desk from me, which reinforces the organizational hierarchy.”

Fascinating. A walking meeting will not always be the right type of meeting to have depending on the audience—but I like the concept. Here are some tips from the article in case you are inspired to give a walking meeting a try:

Consider including an “extracurricular” destination on your route. Dr. Eytan, whose office is located in Washington, D.C., often mentions the nearby Washington Coliseum as a place to stroll by, and notes it is where the Beatles played their first U.S. concert. Naming a point of interest, he says, provides more rationale and incentive for others to go for a walk.

Avoid making the destination a source of unneeded calories. One of the arguments in favor of walking meetings is the health benefit. However, this is easily negated if the walking meeting leads to a 425-calorie white-chocolate mocha that wouldn’t otherwise be consumed.

Do not surprise colleagues or clients with walking meetings. It’s fine to suggest a walk if it seems appropriate in the moment, as long as it’s clear that you’ll be fine with a “maybe next time.” But if you’re planning ahead to spend your time with someone in a walking meeting, have the courtesy to notify them in advance, too. This allows them to arrive dressed for comfort, perhaps having changed shoes. You might also keep water bottles on hand to offer on warm days.

Stick to small groups. Haimes recommends a maximum of three people for a walking meeting.

Have fun. Enjoy the experience of combining work with a bit of exercise and fresh air. Perhaps this is the one piece of advice that doesn’t need to be given. Our data show that those who participate in walking meetings are more satisfied at their jobs than their colleagues who don’t.

You can read the entire article here: