Establishing meeting norms can be an effective and powerful tool. Meeting norms are the standards set for working together positively and productively as a group, and provide a guideline for behavior. They can (and should) address things like expectations, participation, decision making, communication, confidentiality, listening, time management, culture, and handling disagreements.

When done well, norms can help develop a shared sense of responsibility and buy-in and promote equity and inclusion.  It also leverages the strengths of your team and considers different learning and communication preferences.

Here are sample meeting norms that I have found to be effective:

  • A purpose and agenda for the meeting are defined in advance and materials sent two days in advance of the meeting.
  • Individuals come prepared to discuss the materials and topics outlined on the agenda.
  • Meetings start and end on time.
  • Attendees are engaged and present during our time together and put away electronic devices.
  • Communication is respectful; we do not interrupt when someone is speaking.
  • We address challenges at hand in a direct and constructive way, with a focus on solutions.
  • Responsibility is shared and team members will rotate as agenda creator, note taker, and action-step summarizer.

With the new prevalence of virtual meetings, it may serve companies to have virtual meeting norms as well, such as:

  • All attendees online with faces on camera; this may apply whether individuals are working from home or working in an office where I recommend they log in from individual computers vs grouping in a conference room.
  • Data and presentations that are easy to share and read virtually.
  • Using a “red robin” format so the conversation isn’t dominated by certain individuals but allows everyone a chance to speak.

We spend so much time in meetings that making them enjoyable, engaging, and productive contributes to positive business results and a sense of accomplishment for the team!


About Your Columnist

Tracy Ward is a featured columnist for Women Lead, the official blog of Connected Women of Influence, where she brings 25+ years of experience in Human Resources, Executive Leadership, and Organizational Development. Her strong technical knowledge is evidenced by the Human Resources certifications she holds, including the SHRM-SCP, SPHR, PHRca, and GPHR.


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