Chapter 38. Ground Rules in Meetings

Lara Hogan

Research shows that all human groups use rules of engagement to make something that can be very unpredictable (humans and human conversations) be a little more predictable.

Paloma Medina, Ground Rules 101

When you’re in a meeting with six or more people, you might find that the group dynamics become a little unstable. One person looks checked out: they’re on their laptop, you can hear Slack dinging. The person dialed in over video has stopped asking, “Could you move closer to the microphone, please?” and has resigned themselves to not being able to participate in this meeting. Another person has now dominated the conversation, continuing to make the same point in new and different ways.

Ground rules are here to help. When I’m facilitating a meeting, I usually pick three to five ground rules to rally everyone around at the beginning, customizing them to the needs of the meeting (what’s needed for us to make progress, or keep things on track, or collaborate effectively, etc.). As I learned from Medina, ground rules should be short and easy to remember, but avoid being overly cutesy or gimmicky. Use ground rules to keep the meeting on track toward its goal. Here are the common ways I use ground rules and some examples you can use right away!

  • Attend on time, every time

  • Optimize for deciding and acting

You can also use ground ...

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