Meet me outside: Why a walking meeting can yield great results

More and more business meetings are taking place on foot. What are the reasons behind this trend?

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Drop everything and walk: Is it time more business professionals took to the streets to conduct their work?

Perfect news for anyone bored of the boardroom: it turns out putting on your walking shoes and having a mobile meeting instead has a whole smorgasbord of benefits.

Credited with engendering more creative thinking, reducing stress, clearing the mind and boosting employee engagement, the trend for walking and talking is gathering pace.

With a price tag of €0, taking a meeting outside is seen as one of the most powerful and cheap ways of boosting the effectiveness of a meeting. Not only are people more energised and alert thanks to a change of scenery, outdoor meetings also facilitate better engagement.

“I’ve conducted job interviews on the beach, got to know clients better on a mountain and had difficult conversations in the park,” revealed James Good, Director of Swansea and London-based creative agency James Good.

Good, whose portfolio spans a range of industry sectors including global oil and gas firms and pharmaceutical businesses, said: “Taking a meeting outside of the traditional setting of a meeting room is uplifting and levels the playing field. Without the confrontation of sitting formally face-to-face across a table, people relax and open conversations seem to flow more freely.

Taking a meeting outside is one of the most powerful and cheap ways of boosting its effectiveness

“There seems to be significant psychological benefits to walking and talking – facing in the same direction, matching each others’ pace, moving together. Naturally, the flow of the conversation seems to be controlled as walkers pause for thought, regain eye contact and punctuate important points with more naturally emphasised body language.

“And, whichever ends first, the walk or the talk, no-one is left in any doubt that the conversation has drawn to a conclusion… for the time being.”

Considering the depressing statistics linking a sedentary office-based lifestyle to an increased risk of obesity, heart disease and cancer, walking meetings are a two-in-one jackpot – ticking the work and exercise box at the same time.

Steve Jobs was famously a fan, and a string of creative giants have wholeheartedly embraced the concept, but it’s nothing new: the Greek philosopher Aristotle was purportedly a walking and talking fan.

A huge body of research backs up the health links of walking, ranging from cardiovascular function to better thought processing. Assuming, of course, that your walking meeting doesn’t terminate in Costa with a super-size latte.

Since walking meetings are essentially about work, they also give an employer brownie points in terms of caring for the wellbeing of staff.

From a health point of view, swapping the seated meeting, with its caffeine and biscuits, for a brisk focused stroll can only be a good thing. Well, that’s unless someone is staggering along in stilettos… in which case it could be hazardous. Walking meeting aficionados recommend telling people first, so they’re in the right gear.

Other common tips include: take a route you know and leave phones out of it. And, most importantly, have fun!