How to set ground rules for meetings

How do you set ground rules for
meetings and workshops?

A while back I wrote a blog about the advantages of using facilitators or ground rules to improve the internal communication that happens in meetings, but didn't look at the process by which such ground rules could be set. So it might help some if I do so now...

If I am operating as a facilitator in some internal communication project I do prefer to engage the delegates in a debate with a set of ground rule statements on sticky labels or cards and invite them to prioritise the list plus add in up to three of their own.

Such statements include:

  • Be punctual when returning from breaks
  • One person speaks at a time, no side talking or interrupting
  • Respect confidentiality, the speaker owns to copyright
  • Turn off mobile devices, yes that is OFF not silent
  • Help the record keep accurate note of the flip charts
  • Make your own needs known to the group
  • Speak for yourself. Say "I believe/think" rather than infer a whole group of people do
  • Offer ideas as "one idea we could discuss" rather than "My idea is"

Once the group or groups have had their 10 minutes to think and discuss the results go on the wall as a display mechanism and reminder. I've not told them which one are right or best, so they recognise they've made their own choices and tend to stick to them. Usually nothing more needs to be said and it has only taken say 12 - 15 minutes, including set up and de-brief.

  • What approaches do you use to set ground rules with new groups of delegates?
  • What ground rule statements do you find most helpful to improve communication within groups and meetings?

Leave a comment...

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