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Good Meeting Guidelines

Does your group have Meeting Guidelines? Should you?

Meeting at The Nature Conservancy, Craig noticed the “Good Meeting Guidelines” posted on the wall. He needed to learn more!

So in this on-the-spot video Craig interviewed TNC’s Maine State Director Kate Dempsey about why and how they use the Good Meeting Guidelines.

What a great idea! Decide your meeting guidelines, post them in your meeting room, and actually practice them!

By the way. No rehearsals. No second takes. No editing. Kate didn’t even know what Craig was going to ask her. She did a terrific job.


This video has captions. To see them, click CC on the video screen.

Here’s what is said in the video:

Craig: Hi everybody! Hey, it’s Craig Freshley and I’m here with Kate Dempsey. Kate is the director of the Nature Conservancy headquartered right here in Brunswick, Maine. I have been meeting with Kate and some of her staff and I couldn’t help but notice these Good Meeting Guidelines that they keep right here in their meeting room. And I presume you use these?

Kate: We try to keep them actively in front of us and in our brains at all times.

Craig: So how was it that you decided to even do this and come up with these particular guidelines? Can you tell us a little about that?

Kate: Yeah. We’re an organization that actually spends a lot of time in meetings with partners and amongst ourselves. So over time we figured out that we really needed some guidance for ourselves about how to be active participants in meetings; how to make sure we’re hearing a diversity of opinion, even if it’s the same group of people that always meet together. Years and years of practice, in theory, means we are a little better than we would be if we didn’t practice. And I think it really does help because we have a lot of people coming through this office; we meet with a lot of partners and other partners use this space. So it helps share the learning and remind others that this is the culture we’re trying to create.

Craig: I love that; that it’s not just for you but for all the people that come through here. So do you have a practice of reviewing these and talking about them at the start of most of your meetings?

Kate: It’s funny we were just talking about how we needed to re-practice doing that. We’ve had a lot of new people come on to our team and — really in the last year — a huge amount of influx of new energy and new people. So I was just meeting with my director of operations and we were just saying how we really need to think of ways to make sure we are doing just that.

Kate: We are very good about being really clear about meeting purposes. We’re reminding ourselves about what the decision process is in any given situation and who’s making decisions and what input that group is seeking. And I think respecting the clock, we’re actually quite good at. Always reminding ourselves but I think we are very good at that.

Kate: And then I think that being open minded and listening honestly and having inquiring mindsets – what’s good about having this up front is that it allows someone to respectfully remind someone that maybe they’re jumping to a conclusion without seeking first understanding. So it’s a nice way of being able to practice together without anyone feeling badly if you question them.

Craig: Right, I love that. So many good reasons that you just pointed out for having ground rules.

Craig: If you are in a group that meets regularly, maybe even in the same room, you might consider investing in some Good Meeting Guidelines like The Nature Conservancy has. Thanks for explaining this to us.

Kate: Thanks Craig for being here.

Craig: Thanks for listening everybody.

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