do you walk and talk?

August 6, 2015

in communication

walking meetings are becoming more popular, at least in the media. i’ve talked about their benefits for greatist. nilofer merchant has discussed them at TED. huffington post reviewed why they’re better than sitting meetings.

why now? maybe because we all sit too much. the american time use survey reveals we sit about 9 hours per day. this time spent sitting has a drastic impact on our health and vulnerability to disease. but it’s hard, particularly at work, to find opportunities to move. through phone, IM, social channels, etc., everyone is a click away, and there’s great pressure to constantly be productive. walking meetings help us slowly change our sedentary culture and give us permission to move.

that’s why i was proud to be included in this harvard business review article further exploring why and how to conduct walking meetings. as i told russell, one of the article authors, walking meetings allow me and a partner to focus on the task at hand, with our minds and bodies unshackled. we break free of the actual company walls while also breaking free of the company’s hierarchy. this allows for a freedom of expression and exploration.

if you’re a writer, like me, you’ll immediately relate to another way i use walking meetings. i take them, often independent of others, to mull over structure, argument, word choices and word flow. nothing helps me break through blocks like getting out from behind my computer and into fresh air and fresh surroundings. a stanford study reinforces what i’m experiencing. stanford found people had twice as many creative responses following walks, inside or out. (follow the link to the greatist article for a link to this study and others studying the benefits of walking meetings.)

here are a few of my tips for effective walking meetings:

do: if the meeting is a short one, walk some place both people know. you won’t be distracted by your surroundings and can continue talking about what’s on the agenda.

do: understand that walking meetings can vary in length and need no destination.

do: if you want to engage others in a walking meeting and they’re quizzical or disinterested, propose a stroll around the block (or parking lot if you’re in a secluded or sidewalk-deprived environment). like any other habit change, a small step today can lead to bigger ones later.

don’t: don’t think walking meetings require two people. i’ve had plenty of productive walking meetings with myself and the problems i’m wrestling with.

what about you? do you walk and talk?

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