Ground Rules for Effective Meetings


Ground rules are the foundation of effective meetings. Using ground rules, teams can establish norms for what is – and is not – acceptable communication and create healthy environments in which to deal with sensitive issues. We recommend that every team adopt ground rules similar to these to ensure productive conversations.

  1. Keep discussions focused (make sure everyone knows topic).
  2. Focus on one speaker at a time (avoid side conversations).
  3. Bring all issues to the table (avoid “back room” discussions).
  4. Manage your “airtime.”
  5. Tackle issues, not people.
  6. Participate fully – look, act, and be interested.
  7. Balance inquiry and advocacy.
  8. Use “I” statements; put yourself in all interactions.
  9. Explain the reasoning leading to your conclusions.
  10. Identify assumptions – your own and other people’s.
  11. Make undiscussable ideas discussable (identify inner scripts).
  12. Honor this work as one of your highest priorities.
  13. Monitor and observe your ground rules.

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