Why You Should Hold Meetings Outside the Office

UPDATED: April 26, 2016
PUBLISHED: April 26, 2016

Forget the power lunch—more business deals are taking place in yoga studios and on bikes. These days, breaking a sweat with your client may be more effective than breaking bread.

Related: 4 Ways to Spend More Time Outside

“I’m a firm believer that exercise is a vehicle for rich and meaningful conversations,” says John Mix, CEO of FINIS, a swimming equipment company. “Whether it’s a morning swim, a midday walk-and-talk or an evening run, I make it a real priority to connect with customers or friends of the company outside of the workspace.

A typical boardroom meeting is heavily geared toward results, with an agenda and pressure to arrive at a concrete outcome. Getting out of the office shifts the focus from outcome to process; removing factors like workplace body language, electronics and daunting action items can make room for innovative thinking.

“The ‘sweatworking’ environment is one that fosters a positive and energetic vibe,” says Elisette Carlson, founder of SMACK! Media.

To put some sweat equity into your meetings:

Choose wisely.

The activity should be one that matches everyone’s interests and fitness levels, like a yoga class or hike.

Make it convenient.

Suggest a location near your client’s home or office. You may be willing to drive an hour to hit your favorite mountain bike trail, but others may not be as enthusiastic.

Be a (real) winner.

Whether racing in a 5K or playing racquetball, you don’t have to let the client win. Authenticity will build a better relationship.

Forget the agenda.

Leave to-do lists and meeting times at the office. When your mind is distracted from the present conversation, the freedom of the exercise experience becomes less valuable.

Related: 8 Ways to Avoid Pointless Meetings


This article appears in the May 2016 issue of SUCCESS magazine.

Susan Lacke is a writer, editor, and adventure junkie from Salt Lake City. In addition to contributing to SUCCESS, Lacke writes about endurance sports for Competitor Running and Triathlete magazines and is working on her first book with VeloPress Publishing. Despite near-constant exposure to the world's fastest athletes, her own run speed remains mediocre.