If you’re like me, you have a lot of meetings. In a typical day, I probably spend 30% of it in meetings with people, whether brainstorming something, updating status or collaborating on a solution. If that 30% number is true, it means I probably spend about 2.4 hours a day just sitting in meetings. That’s a lot of time.
Recently, I started changing it up. For as many meetings as possible, I try to get outside and walk during the call (I work from home, so almost all my meetings are by phone), in order to get some exercise while I chat with folks. Generally, it’s worked really well, and I’ve found that I can be just as productive in a meeting when I’m not in front of the computer as when I am.
This morning, I was reading a bit from Contagious by Jonah Berger, and he was talking about the influence of psychological arousal on our likelihood to share information and stories with others, where he notes: “Any sort of arousal, whether from emotional or physical sources…can boost transmission [of ideas and information]”. This underscores yet another benefit of the walking meeting: if you’re walking while meeting with folks, you’re actually more likely to share information and ideas, an activity that, no doubt, can lead to more productive collaboration.
I’m not the only one who does this, and it certainly wasn’t my idea. Mark Zuckerburg, the folks at LinkedIn, and hell, even Barack Obama prefer walking meetings. Brad Feld has 15, 30, 45 and 60 minute routes around Boulder that he uses for meetings, depending on the scheduled length. It’s pretty clear that a lot of top thinkers meet on their feet, so it made sense to work that into my daily activities as well.
I’m still ironing out some of the specifics. Often, I need to be reviewing documents during a meeting, and have been able to successfully use the GoToMeeting app on my phone to view someone’s screen while walking, although the brightness of the sun can be an issue from time to time. I’m working on finding a way to move more of my meetings to a walking format, and eliminate the need to be in front of the computer all the time.
So, next time you have a meeting, get up and walk and talk. Take your coworker with you and do a lap around the building, or a few blocks downtown. If you work from home, start taking those conference calls outside, and get a couple miles in while you chat.
Do you do walking meetings? What tricks have you found that make it easier to meet while walking?