Practical Tips For A Successful Walking Meeting

Five tried-and-tested tips for getting it right when on the run

If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you’ve always gotten’ - Albert Einstein


We have been thinking about these wise words from one of our greatest thinkers lately––especially in relation to our work habits, and how we can create space for improved solutions and ways of working. It’s interesting to note that we often expect to reach new outcomes or resolutions by in-fact approaching the problem in the very same way.

These routines are most obvious when it comes to meetings, as we habitually approach ideas, deliverables, and brainstorming via the same old method––therefore limiting our ability to find renewed headspace for the topic.

The easiest way to approach a new way of thinking, is from a new place––both physically and mentally; so... why not switch up the location of your new meeting?

If you currently need a creative solution to a problem, or maybe aren’t getting the same energy out of your weekly WIPs––why not try a walking meeting to refresh the mood, and create a new format for ideas.

Below are our tried-and-tested tips for getting it right when on the run:

1. Keep it small and simple

Small walking meetings work best.  Holding a 10 person meeting when you’re out on a busy footpath is not a productive plan. Not only do you have noise and congestion to compete with, you also don’t want to sacrifice any connection with your colleagues durings these times. It will inevitably end up as a disjointed array of three-person chats with no cohesive results. Instead, try to keep your walking meetings one-on-one.

It also helps to keep the topic of conversation concise and to the point. It’s a great opportunity to brainstorm new ideas and processes, rather than go through the specifics of a task. Choose walking meetings for problem solving, creative ideas, and concepting––as opposed to project specifics and detail-orientation discussions.

2. Map it out

Take five minutes out to plan ahead and work out a route that matches your expected meeting time. This is crucial in not actually inhibiting any outcomes of the meeting. For example, you don’t want to get lost, have to think about where you want to go enroute, or compete with any overly busy or noisy areas. Why not pass through a park, a free museum, or swing past for a take away coffee at a new local café? If you work in a multi-level building you could even take your meeting on the stairs, climb just three flights of stairs ten times... and watch your fitness transform!

3. Don’t make the walking meeting a surprise

When it comes to walking meetings, it’s important to plan ahead and give your walking partner a little notice to bring what they need, maybe some comfortable shoes, sunglasses, or a hat. Whilst most people will relish in the opportunity to get outside and enjoy some fresh air, you have to keep in mind that this may be asking someone to try something that they never have before. Ask them the day before, and include all the details in the calendar invite such as the route and the agenda, so that they can see that this will be as productive (if not more productive!) than their use diary-date.

4. Walk the talk

To start you may be the crazy walking meeting fan, but once your colleagues have tried it they’ll be converted to the benefits of boosted productivity, supercharged creative thinking, and improved health. It also avoids the dreaded hunt for an available meeting space in your building, there’s no need to book a room when you’ve got the freedom to roam.

Consistency and focus is key here––you have to do it regularly so it’s expected and also you need to do it well, so that no-one can regard it as a lesser outcome to a normal desk-bound meeting. This means staying on topic, and preparing as you would a regular meeting, every single time.

And to encourage your colleagues to try their first walking meeting you could always walk them to your favourite coffee shop and buy a round of drinks.

5. Think ahead for avid note-takers   

Walking meetings are not the time for the paper and pen. Instead keep your meeting free flowing and creative. If the next big thing pops into your head and you don’t trust your memory, then why not jot down the essentials in an iPhone app such as Evernote. Or you could try a voice memo recorder, most modern smartphones will have a voice recording function.

Just ensure that you follow up your meeting with deliverables, outcomes and solutions––just as you would any other meeting as you should still get from A to B––just via a way more pleasant and productive route!

Happy walking!