Rules Are Rules – And Why You Need Them


No one likes rules or being told what to do. But there is no way around it; if you do not clearly communicate the rules in an online meeting and ask your participants to follow them, you will quickly lose attention, time, and money.  

The Secret

What is the secret of successful communication in the virtual working space? Whether leading a meeting, giving a presentation, or moderating a workshop, you must establish clear rules. These rules need to be communicated unambiguously. In the virtual meeting room, unless you have rules, you are doomed to fail.

What’s lacking?

I regularly hear complaints from people about the drawbacks of virtual communication. From a lack of non-verbal communication (you think the screen is frozen, but the participant is sitting like a statue, staring at the screen), minimal interaction, showing a distinct lack of interest, fidgeting, constantly checking their phone, discussing things with someone else in the (physical) room – a partner, family member, colleague or friend or a lack of relationship management – someone else who is not chairing the meeting dominating, interrupting, trying to take charge, etc. 

It feels as if the online or virtual meeting world can be defined by one word – LACK.

Every day I have people complaining about something lacking in their online meetings:

  • A lack of facial expressions
  • A lack of body language
  • A lack of emotion
  • A lack of feedback
  • A lack of reaction
  • A lack of participation
  • A lack of interest
  • A lack of discipline
  • A lack of awareness of others


There is only one way to increase attention. Tell the participants the rules you are setting. Who can talk? And when for how long and about what? Inform them what will not be discussed or tolerated. Explain you will end discussions if they are irrelevant or digress from the subject of the meeting.

Take Control

You need to take control from the start. How? By establishing the rules and enforcing them in the meeting. 

  • Stop interruptions immediately.
  • Remind the audience to turn on their camera. Don’t start or continue until everyone has. If someone is not complying, the others in the group will soon call them out.
  • Always address your audience by name – keep them on their toes, ask questions.
  • Give out assignments.
  • Take votes.
  • Take short polls.
  • A request is written or spoken statements. 

Taking control is about establishing the rules, following them up, and activating your audience. If you activate them, engage them, maintain their interest, you will have their full attention throughout the meeting.

That’s the only way to gain attention, the only way to keep attention. This is the only way to get closer to your goal.

By defining the rules and communicating them from the beginning, you will ensure full participation, increase attention, and have more efficient and successful virtual business experiences. 

And in addition, your audience will thank YOU. 

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