Perusing my recent Costco magazine I found the following snippet on the benefits of walking meetings so decided to delve a little deeper.
From Costco Magazine by Susan Johnston.
Many business owners are embracing walking meetings. It’s not an entirely novel concept – notables like Aristotle and Nietzche believed in walking while they spoke or deliberated – but a growing body of new research illustrates the positive impact of walking on creativity and idea creation.
Daniel Schwartz, a professor at the Stanford Graduate School of Education, co-authored a study published earlier this year, Give Your Ideas Some Legs, showing hat creative output increases by an average of 60 percent, when someone is walking. “The kind of creativity we found for walking is more generative, more brainstorming [than sitting indoors’],” he says.
Julia lilne, a Ph.D candidate at the University of Michigan, co-authored another study, Your Brain on Speed, also published this year, which found that walking speed does not diminish “spatial working ability” -essentially the ability to walk and talk and remember items that were discussed.
“These two findings together really should encourage people to get out into the world and walk during meetings”, she says. “Walking meetings have become one of the ways that you can motivate the whole company to get up and get moving.”
This article struck a cord with me so I looked into it further and discovered entire websites and movements dedicated to walking meetings.
Feet First is dedicated to promoting walking in general but the walking meetings page had some great tips for launching your own walking meetings.
Walking meetings offer
- Physical activity that fits into the day
- Energized and more alert participants
- Different environments to inspire new ideas
- Time outdoors, in nature, and with fresh air and light
- Improved physical and mental well-being
- Walking and talking side by side cuts through hierarchical and status distinctions and sets people at ease
- Enhanced relationship building
- Creativity and new solutions
- If the group is larger, several conversations happen at the same time and people can move around easily to talk to others in the group
- Enhanced group identity and strengthened team spirit
- Meetings that no longer feel like a waste of time
- Process as helpful as product
- Utilitarian purposes can be added, such as fitting in errands
Who the Meeting is with
One on One Meetings – Meeting as a pair tends to be easy. Walking breaks down the barrier of a desk and chair, and lets people communicate more equally.
Small Group Meetings of 3-5 – Meetings with three or more can be affected by the width of the sidewalk or path, variations in terrain, and possible physical barriers. This size group is flexible, as discussion can occur while walking, or if desired the group can stop along the walk.
Medium Size Groups of 6-15 – Meetings with larger groups tend to result in more than one conversation while walking. If the whole group is to be involved, make time to stop and gather as a whole.
Larger Groups of 16 or More – These tend to require more planning, with a strong leader and potentially a few assistants if needed. There will be conversations while walking, then planned stops for presentations.
Age, Ability, Interest
Age can have an impact—children can become restless if the group moves slowly or stops often. For walkers of differing abilities, some adjustment in speed may be necessary.
For informative meetings, invite speakers, such as people from the neighborhood to talk about neighborhood issues, business leaders, elected officials, and experts.
To get more participants at a public or community walking meeting, publicize the meeting—newspapers, neighborhood newsletters and magazines, fliers, emails, and social media outlets can all bring more people to the walk.
Where to have the meeting
- Natural settings such as parks or trails
- Urban settings, which are both stimulating and convenient
- Indoors is possible given large enough hallways or spacious areas like convention centers or malls
- Attention to the route is important—avoid noisy roads
- Determine the start location, course, and finish location. The starting point can be a gathering place such as a coffee shop, school, or just an outdoor spot. The course can be set ahead of time for larger groups, or can be more spontaneous for smaller groups. Returning to the start is easiest, especially if people have driven, but it is possible to finish elsewhere if people are using transit, walking, or carpooling.
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