It's safe to say that the majority of folks aren't passionate about attending work meetings. While meetings are often both necessary and helpful for effectively securing a desired result, they're generally not the high point of anyone's day or something anyone looks forward to attending. Even if you're logging onto a team call or Zoom from the comfort of your home instead of from a sad, sterile conference room, the effect can still evoke a sense of being confined. That's why pre-pandemic, I enjoyed taking walking meetings because they allow for a decidedly personable and a welcome change in environment. But those were only possible when the person with whom I was meeting was in my presence. Since I'm in good company now with having worked remotely for nearly a year, I think it's about time to learn how to transform as many meetings as possible to be virtual walking meetings.
Why? Well, mobilizing your meetings lead to improved sleep at night, and research supports that the action can yield more creative thinking and effective brainstorming sessions. "I once did a walking meeting with a business client of mine, where our focus was on talking through a big, strategic item they were wrestling with," says Erin Hatzikostas, career coach and founder of bAuthentic Inc. "While fresh air was a nice benefit of the meeting, the real power came from simply pulling both of us out of our normal work setting and signaling to our brains that it was okay to let the mind wander in ways we don't typically allow during the work day."
Of course, a virtual walking meeting isn't ideal for all kinds of meetings. For instance, if you're presenting a big strategic vision for your company to 300 people, you might want to stay put, in a comfortable and reliable location. You also might not want to be video conferencing while crossing traffic-heavy streets. With that in mind, find several pointers below for having an effective virtual walking meeting—no injuries, just banger ideas and good conversation.
5 quick tips for having an effective virtual walking meeting
1. Do it when you know you'll be mostly listening or muted
As a reminder, the day you're presenting a big, company-wide plan is not the day you necessarily want to do a virtual walking meeting.
"The best situations to do a 'walk and talk' would be if you're not in charge of taking notes, not leading, or presenting any new material, or facilitating the discussion." —career coach Kimberly Lucht
"The general rule of thumb is that calls involving casual brainstorming or feedback are best for this scenario versus calls that require your active participation and unmuted self," says career coach Kimberly Lucht. "The best situations to do a 'walk and talk' would be if you're not in charge of taking notes, not leading, or presenting any new material, or facilitating the discussion. When those three things are out of the picture, you can implement a nature walk on your sometimes endless day-to-day Zoom calls."
2. Don't make it a team outing
"I've found walking meetings to be best for one-on-one conversations, especially when your intent is to talk more strategically," says Hatzikostas.
So, keep things intimate and reserve virtual walking meetings to individual check-ins. While a virtual walking meeting isn't off-limits, per se, to external calls, make sure you're building on an existing strong relationship if you go this route.
3. Opt for a voice call rather than a video call, if possible
If you're interested in having a virtual walking meeting, it's best to take it as an audio voice call rather than video, in order to not be distracted or land yourself in a potentially unsafe situation. Ideally, you'll establish with the other party beforehand if it'll be a phone or video call so there are no surprises. If you're dealing with a superior who thinks video calling is ideal, consider editing your walking route to a low-traffic area or a nearby park.
Also, "create a backup plan, like popping into a coffee shop, if you need to go on video," Lucht says, to ensure you always have service.
4. If you're worried about connection, it's fine to stay where the Wi-Fi's steady
Whether you're masked up and office bound or living that WFH life, taking your walking meeting outside isn't a requirement to reap the benefits of switching up your environment. While gifting yourself the stimuli of very healthy greenery, walking meetings really benefit you by momentarily removing you from a constricting workspace.
"Getting up and away from your desk, even if it's to do 300 rotations around the first floor of your house, will help exercise both your body and your mind," says Hatzikostas.
5. Bring the right equipment for travel
Finally, remember that you don't want audio feedback of your surroundings on your walking meeting to interfere with your meeting's dialogue. "Have wireless headphones with a microphone built in so people can hear you properly if need be," Lucht says.
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