Have you ever felt as though a meeting was never going anywhere? Perhaps there were conversations taking place over one another, ongoing arguments, or off-topic discussions. Ground rules are helpful in this situation. A set of rules known as ground rules specify how attendees should conduct themselves in meetings. They give structure and make sure that everyone can be heard.
Here are my some of favorite meeting ground rules:
Start and end on time: This respects everyone’s time and ensures the meeting last only as long as necessary. Participants should also bring any materials or information they will require for the meeting with them.
Stay on topic: Everyone should adhere to the meeting’s purpose and agenda, which should be established in advance. This keeps everyone in the session on topic and keeps the conversation from getting off-topic.
Respect the speaker: Encourage participants to speak one at a time and refrain from interjecting and talking over one another. This keeps the meeting from becoming chaotic and ensures that everyone’s voice is heard.
Be respectful: Everyone should respect one another, refrain from insulting or personal attacks, and pay attention to their tone and language. This contributes to a more cohesive, harmonious, and professional environment.
Use active listening: Participants should pay close attention to one another and, if necessary, clarify their understanding by asking questions. This helps ensure that everyone is on the same page and prevents misunderstandings.
ELMO: Use ELMO, which means “enough, let’s move on.” You can use this phrase when a conversation or debate is winding down or becoming pointless.
Humor is welcome: Encourage participants to use humor to lighten the mood and create a positive atmosphere. However, everyone should be respectful and avoid jokes that could be offensive or hurtful to others.
Embrace a “Yes, And” Approach: Encourage participants to build on each other’s ideas with a “Yes, And” approach rather than dismissing suggestions. This fosters creativity and collaborative problem-solving.
Speak Your Mind Tactfully: Promote an environment where participants feel comfortable sharing their honest opinions in a respectful and tactful manner. This ensures that all perspectives are heard and valued.
Equality in Participation: Strive for balanced participation, ensuring that all voices are heard. Facilitators may need to invite quieter members to share their thoughts while managing more dominant speakers to maintain equity.
Agree to Disagree: Recognize that it’s okay to respectfully disagree with others. This rule supports a culture where debate and dissent are viewed as healthy and essential for reaching the best outcomes.
Consensus means…: Define what “consensus” means for the group, so everyone understands what it takes to reach an agreement. This helps everyone work towards a common goal.
Victory means: Define what “victory” means for the group. Having a clear definition of what success looks like helps everyone stay focused on the goal.
The purpose of ground rules is to create a productive, respectful, and positive environment for everyone in the meeting. Ground rules help to ensure that meetings are efficient, effective, and achieve the desired outcome. They provide a framework for how participants should behave and help prevent misunderstandings and conflicts.