1. Show up on time and come prepared
Be prompt in arriving to the meeting and in returning from breaks.
Be prepared to contribute to achieving the meeting goals.
Come to the meeting with a positive attitude.
2. Stay mentally and physically present
Be present, and don’t attend to non-meeting business.
Listen attentively to others and don’t interrupt or have side conversations.
Treat all meeting participants with the same respect you would want from them.
3. Contribute to meeting goals
Participate 100% by sharing ideas, asking questions, and contributing to discussions.
Share your unique perspectives and experience, and speak honestly.
If you state a problem or disagree with a proposal, try to offer a solution.
4. Let everyone participate
Share time so that all can participate.
Be patient when listening to others speak and do not interrupt them.
Respect each other’s’ thinking and value everyone’s contributions.
5. Listen with an open mind
Value the learning from different inputs, and listen to get smarter.
Stay open to new ways of doing things, and listen for the future to emerge.
You can respect another person’s point of view without agreeing with them.
6. Think before speaking
Seek first to understand, then to be understood.
Avoid using idioms, three letter acronyms, and phrases that can be misunderstood.
It’s OK to disagree, respectfully and openly, and without being disagreeable.
7. Stay on point and on time
Respect the groups’ time and keep comments brief and to the point.
When a topic has been discussed fully, do not bring it back up.
Do not waste everyone’s time by repeating what others have said.
8. Attack the problem, not the person
Respectfully challenge the idea, not the person.
Blame or judgment will get you further from a solution, not closer.
Honest and constructive discussions are necessary to get the best results.
9. Close decisions and follow up
Make sure decisions are supported by the group, otherwise they won’t be acted on.
Note pending issues and schedule follow up meetings as needed.
Identify actions based on decisions made, and follow up actions assigned to you.
10. Record outcomes and share
Record issues discussed, decisions made, and tasks assigned.
Share meeting reports with meeting participants.
Share meeting outcomes with other stakeholders that should be kept in the loop.
Additional ground rules for virtual meetings
- Log on early.
- List the times of the meeting for each time zone involved. Double-check the times (not all areas—Hawai’i, e.g.—change for daylight savings)
- Mute your phone, tablet, or computer when you are not speaking. HOWEVER, this is not commonly agreed-upon. Some professionals suggest not muting remote phones so that comments and questions occur more real-time, without delay. The caveat is additional attention must be paid to extraneous noises at the remote location.
- Stay focused on the meeting (no emailing; no talking with non-attendees)
Ground rules for hybrid meetings, where some participants are remote
- If the meeting is a mixture of people physically at the meeting and some who are calling in, ensure that people at all locations talk loud and clear, and slowly enough, into the microphone.
- Repeat into the microphone any comments or questions that were not heard by the remote attendees.
- Share with the remote attendees any important visual occurrences (perhaps the CEO just walked into the room).
- If a polling is done to find out who is in agreement, remote attendees can step on each other’s answers as they vote via the common phone line. A good approach is to a meeting collaboration software, like MeetingSift, where participants vote using their phones, tablets, or computers.
3 ways to set the meeting rules
- The easiest approach is to use a ready-made list of proven meeting rules, like the one we are provided above Share the list of rules with the group before starting the meeting.
- In some situations you may want to tailor a ready-made list of proven meeting rules to make sure it fits your situation. Do this by inviting participants to suggest additional rules. Make sure that everyone agrees with the rules.
- Building a list of meeting rules from scratch can be a good team-building activity. Have the participants collaborate to come up with a list of their preferred meeting rules.
No matter how the list of meeting ground rules is created, keep it as short as possible while still achieving the objectives. If the rules are too many, the participants are likely to have a hard time remembering them.
What to do when meeting rules are violated
This depends on the nature of the meeting rule, the frequency, and the intention behind the violation. Single slip-ups can usually be given a pass. Repeats may require the ground rule being restated. If a participant is disruptive beyond acceptable limits, it may be necessary to call a break in the meeting and talk privately with the offender. Hopefully, an understanding will be arrived at. If not, options include meeting postponement/adjournment, removal of the offender, or putting up with the violation in an effort to finish the meeting.
Meetings are forums designed to bring out the best ideas from every participant
Ground rules for meetings assist the process by paying due respect to everyone’s time and ideas as well as providing a consistent framework for business-critical agenda items to be addressed. Starting with the premise that meeting ground rules provide the structure that promotes the values of the company, everyone in attendance will reap the benefits of these helpful DOs and DON’Ts.