Ultimate List of Ground Rules for Effective Meetings

Have you ever attended a meeting when the presenter deviated from the agenda, when time seemed to stand still because of a lack of participation, or when a team fell into an argument over video chat? Chances are, we have all experienced one or more of these scenarios and don’t have any desire to participate in such meetings in the future.

If you are the organizer of a meeting, how can you ensure these or other similarly cringeworthy distractions don’t happen on your watch? The answer comes down to rules. By setting ground rules for effective meetings and getting participants to buy into them, you’ll sidestep these obstacles and promote an environment that encourages brevity, cooperation, and effective outcomes.

Davinci is the leader in providing professional meeting room spaces for any need, and we have some advice to give on setting ground rules for effective meetings. We’ve seen it all and know first-hand what works and what doesn’t. 

After we talk about why ground rules should be required when meeting at work, we’ll list specific ground rules for:

• All meetings in general

• In-person meetings

• Virtual meetings

• Team meetings

• Company-wide meetings

• Customer and client meetings

• Meetings over meals

Finally, you’ll find out why using a Davinci meeting room rental will go a long way in helping you masterfully pull off a respectable meeting.

Why Ground Rules Are Required When Meeting

Ground rules should be required for every meeting. There are many reasons for this. Some help stem the tide of inappropriate behavior that stymies the purpose of a meeting, while some fuel proper engagement that produces productive work.

Here are some examples of inappropriate behavior that rules can resolve:

• Showing up late or not showing up at all

• Deviating from the agenda

• Dominating the discussion 

• Having side conversations

• Being distracted by personal devices

• A lack of collaborating, contributing, or cooperating

Here are some examples of proper engagement that rules can encourage:

• Being prepared with necessary information

• Listening without interruption

• Communicating relevant comments clearly and regularly

• Committing to solve a problem

• Respecting others’ time

Ultimately, the main reason ground rules are required comes down to one thing—being able to have a productive, effective, successful meeting. 

General Ground Rules for All Meetings

For every meeting, no matter the type, there are some general ground rules that must be established and enforced. Otherwise, chances are high that your goals for the meeting won’t be met and you (and your attendees) will leave feeling frustrated.

Here’s a list of six general ground rules for effective meetings:

1. Send out invitations with a place and time listed, along with the agenda. It allows people to schedule their time accordingly and plan their own contributions for the topics at hand.

2. Get everyone to agree on ground rules before beginning the meeting because this sets the expectations and a positive tone.

3. Start and end according to the invitation’s schedule. There’s no excuse for wasting the time of employees, clients, or customers. If there is more to discuss than you have time for, curb the conversation for now and schedule another meeting.

4. Give full attention for the duration of the meeting. Consider banning the use of personal devices so that all focus can be where it should be.

5. Contribute opinions, ideas, suggestions, and questions to further the conversation and dive deeper into problems and solutions.

6. Listen to and respect others when they’re talking. Don’t interrupt, disregard, or diminish what is said.

Whether you’re in a conference room, restaurant, or online, these general rules apply. Following them will show everyone they are vital and valued. 

Ground Rules for In-Person Meetings

Before you even consider calling an in-person meeting, be sure you even need one. There is great value in meeting together in one room and working off of each other’s energy. But these days, most communication and collaboration can be accomplished over text, email, telephone, or virtually. 

There are a few specific ground rules for in-person meetings. They cover creating and sending a meeting invite, preparing documentation, and setting up presentation equipment. We also want to once again recommend limiting the use of personal electronic devices. 

Here’s a bit more detail on each of these ground rules for in-person meetings.

Create and Send a Meeting Invite

Be very intentional when giving the details in a meeting invitation. Doing so will encourage attendance, diminish confusion, and set proper expectations for the purpose of the meeting and why it’s necessary.

Here are a few important guidelines to follow when creating and sending a meeting invite:

• Invite only necessary people who are relevant to the topic being covered. Overcrowding a meeting means there is less focus on the job at hand and productivity goes way down.

• Pick a time to meet that works for as many people as possible. First thing in the morning tends to get the most involvement out of people. Meetings scheduled after lunch or toward the end of the day tend to get lower energy and engagement. 

Choose the right meeting room to comfortably accommodate the type of meeting you are having (training, deposition, sales pitch, etc.) and the number of attendees. 

Prepare Documentation

In addition to an agenda, be sure you have helpful (and correct) documentation organized and on hand. You don’t want to appear unprepared, scattered, sloppy, or incompetent.

Set Up Presentation Equipment

Give yourself plenty of time before a meeting to familiarize yourself with all the tech components you’ll be using in your presentation. Get everything set up and ready to go. Then test it—twice. There is often an audible groan whenever a presenter has a technical difficulty and the audience needs to either wait for it to be fixed or sit through a presentation without any valuable information that should be shown.

Ground Rules for Virtual Meetings

Virtual meetings have become de rigueur of late. Everyone had to adapt to this new technology and paradigm shift so quickly that any sort of ground rule was hard to establish. It’s been long enough now that there is no excuse for having, or putting up with, bad virtual meeting manners. 

Here are several solid ground rules for virtual meetings:

1. Join on time (or early).

2. Use headphones or a headset.

3. Mute yourself whenever you’re not speaking on the current topic.

4. Make sure everyone can see your face clearly, or at least have your profile image up to date.

5. Dress appropriately so you can be taken seriously.

6. Check your background for distractions.

7. Don’t eat. 

8. Stay seated.

9. Be patient.

10. End the meeting on time.

Ground Rules for Team Meetings

When leading a discussion with a small group, there are a few ground rules for team meetings to keep in mind. 

First, if a team member can’t attend, send them the agenda and all of the documentation for them to review. Ask them to submit questions or comments, and inform them about the discussions that were had in the meeting.

Second, all team members need to contribute their own thoughts and unique perspectives on the topic or problem. There will be no side conversations.

Third, when a conflict arises, the source of it will be addressed and there will be no veering off track. Accountability is vital, failure is acceptable, and respect will be given to all parties.

Fourth, there will be a mutual resolution and firm commitment to move forward.

Ground Rules for Company-Wide Meetings

When it comes to company-wide meetings, most of the same rules still apply, but there are a few others to consider:

• Be sure you have a good reason to pull everyone together for a meeting. Reserve such meetings for big announcements, pertinent training, or celebratory events.

• At least several weeks in advance, book a meeting space large enough to accommodate the audience. Consider the parking/public transportation situation and the availability of administrative services, audio and visual aids, and catering (if desired).  

• Whoever wants to speak or present must reserve a time in advance so they can be placed on the schedule.

• Questions or comments are not allowed until the allotted time. This can be after each speaker or at the end of the meeting. No interruptions will be tolerated.

Ground Rules for Customer and Client Meetings

Holding a meeting with current or potential customers or clients is a bit different from holding one just for the team. These meetings are meant to impress and should be carried out as such. You need to come across as the authority in your niche, showcase your work, and appeal to your guests. You want them to leave feeling confident in what you have to offer. 

To accomplish all this, here is perhaps the best advice we can give—remember to use their names, be prepared, and end on time.

Additionally, follow these very helpful ground rules for customer and client meetings.

Hold the Meeting in a Professional Setting

For your daily work, it doesn’t matter if you work in a shared office in a less desirable part of town or out of your garage. But when it’s time to meet the people you do business for, you need to let your customers and clients know you are successful and can deftly handle their business. 

Some business owners may choose to have their meetings at the local coffee shop, but that atmosphere can be full of disruptions and distractions. Instead, choose to meet in a professionally equipped office located at a prestigious address. With a friendly lobby greeter, the tech equipment you need, and a clean and comfortable setting, you’ll come across as the confident and successful business person you are.

Have Food and Drinks Brought In

A surefire way to make a good impression and energize a room is to have food and drinks at the ready. There are some very real benefits of having a meeting catered:

• Increased productivity because people’s energy will be high instead of running on empty.

• Reduced risk of food issues as pro caterers are permitted and licensed to know how to handle food properly and accommodate dietary restrictions.

• Less stress about setup and cleanup, which ensures your focus stays on your most important tasks.

• An enjoyable and impressive atmosphere that leaves your guests knowing you are capable and profitable.

Ground Rules for Meetings Over Meals

On occasion, having a meeting over a meal is a fun and special way to come together for solving a problem or celebrating a special occasion. 

Just remember these three ground rules for meetings over meals:

1. Choose the right restaurant. Try and find out what type of food your guests prefer and be mindful of any allergies or restrictions. It’s a good idea to test out the restaurant ahead of time to check for quality of food, service, and ambiance. Always make a reservation well ahead of time and perhaps ask for a private booth or room. Consider leaving a credit card on file with the host to avoid the awkward moment of having the bill delivered to both you and your guest.

2. Use your table manners. Freshen up on correct cutlery usage. Be aware of your alcohol consumption so you don’t make the wrong impression or lose control of your inhibitions. Don’t be rude to your guests, the host, the waitstaff, or other restaurant patrons. 

3. Stay away from sensitive subjects. You don’t need to talk business the entire time. Feel free to let the conversation flow naturally. Ask questions about family, travels, and hobbies but stay away from sensitive topics like politics and religion.

Use Davinci Meeting Rooms

When you’re ready to schedule a meeting, don’t let the opportunity of making a good impression pass you by. Follow these ground rules for effective meetings, and you’ll be seen as a trusted professional and leader. 

For a polished location that is equipped with everything from a prestigious address and a welcoming lobby greeter to the latest presentation equipment and optional catering services, choose to rent a Davinci meeting space.


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