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Walking meetings: 5 tips to make them a success in your office

We’ve all been stuck in stuffy conference rooms, brainstorming ideas for a new project with lacklustre team members. Well, it’s time to take that meeting outside the boardroom, get the creative juices flowing and try your first walking meeting.

Across the developed world, we now spend more time sitting than ever before and an email-laden, meeting-heavy culture is helping drive the trend. A major new report by UK Active highlighted the severity of the problem causing virtually all of us to sit more and do less, particularly office-based workers, who on average spend 75% of their waking hours sitting down.

But don’t fear, the problem isn’t hopeless. Making simple changes to your daily routine can have a huge impact on your health. The maths stacks up too, change one of your usual daily meetings into a 30-minute walking meeting and over a week you’ve instantly added two and a half hours exercise into your routine. As well as the added health benefits, recent research by the American Psychological Association found that walking leads to increases in your creative thinking.

We know it’s not always easy to make your workplace more active and fit walking meetings into your company culture. So to celebrate On Your Feet Britain Day, this Friday 29 April, we’ve compiled five of our favourite tips to ensure your first walking meeting is a huge success.

1. Small walking meetings work best

Couple walking in the rain in the park

Holding a productive nine-person meeting when you’re out on a busy London pavement is a bad plan. It will inevitably end up as a mishmash 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 - not the company’s latest sales figures, keep that to the boardroom” says StepJockey CEO Paul Nuki.

2. Plan the route of your walking meeting

image of a couple's feet climbing stairs in an office setting

Take five minutes out to plan ahead and work out a route that matches your expected meeting time, 15 to 30 minutes is ideal in most cases.

Why not take in a favourite local hotspot or a great local cafe? Keeping it low key and fun is a surefire way to ensure a bounty of creative ideas. 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 you could burn over 100 calories!

3. Don’t make the walking meeting a surprise

image of a old couple in the distance in the park

When it comes to walking meetings it’s important to plan ahead and give your walking buddy a little notice to bring some comfy shoes. Ask them the day before and you’ll be sure to receive a yes to your calendar invite. Keep the surprises for Christmas!

4. Walk the talk

image of a man's boots walking in the park

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.

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    

image of a woman's torso only holding a smartphone

Walking meetings are not the time for A4 pads of paper and your favourite fountain pen. Instead keep your meeting free flowing and creative. If the next big thing pops into your head and you have a memory like a sieve then why not jot down the essentials in your favourite smartphone app. I’m a fan of Evernote. Or you could try a voice memo recorder, most modern smartphones will have a voice recording function.

That’s it! Grab some comfy shoes, ditch the boardroom and try your first walking meeting this Friday for On Your Feet Britain Day. You’ll soon be relishing the extra creativity and fighting back against the sedentary epidemic.

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