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TED Talks: Getting Out of the ‘Box’ for More Out-of-the-Box Thinking


Studies show that employees feel more than half of the time they spend in meetings is a complete waste of time. So, what’s the secret to holding a productive meeting? Perhaps it’s to have the meeting while walking. Hey, if these “take a stroll” meetings worked for business moguls like Steve Jobs and Mark Zuckerberg, then our guess is that they will probably work for you too.


(Photo Credit: Pubblinvest/Flickr)

Nilofer Merchant recently gave a presentation for TED Talks on this very subject — walking meetings — and argued that sitting has actually become “so incredibly prevalent […] that it has become the smoking of our generation.”

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Apparently, inactivity is correlated to other health issues such as breast cancer, colon cancer, and diabetes, which means sitting in hours upon hours of work meetings is not only bad for your efficiency, but it’s also damaging your body. Yikes! But, how do you convince someone to take a stroll and talk business? Here a few stats to help sway the opposition into penciling in a pede-conference with you:

1. Get up and get out. People spend approximately 9.3 hours a day sitting, which is more than the estimated 7.7 hours of sleep they get each night. Why do you think some of the best ideas come when you’re either showering or working out? Because, your brain releases this awesome chemical called dopamine that gets your neurons firing and the creative juices flowing when you’re active. So, hit the pavement for your next one-on-one and see what your dopamine rewards you with.

2. “Fresh air drives fresh thinking,” according to Merchant, who racks up approximately 20 – 30 miles per week conducting walking meetings. Getting out into the fresh air is also a great change of stimulus from the florescent-lit office that is all too common in the corporate world. Inhale. Exhale. Repeat.

3. Save hard-earned dollars. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, “Unnecessary meetings cost U.S. businesses roughly $37 billion each year.” So, instead of doing damage to your waistline and wallet, take your meeting outdoors.

Nilofer Merchant says it best, “Walk and talk. Walk the talk.” If you are looking for a change in the monotony of lengthy closed-door meetings, put on your walking shoes and extend the invite. Your colleagues will probably appreciate the change and, even better, actually stepping foot outside the office before the closing bell sounds at 5 p.m.

You can watch Nilofer Merchant’s TED Talks presentation here:

Tell Us What You Think

Have walking meetings proved successful in your career? If so, share your thoughts on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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