Setting Ground Rules During Training

In order to make the training session proceed smoothly it is essential that the trainer set a number of ground rules and communicate them clearly to all participants. Ground rules can be set after the trainer has introduced himself and mentioned the training style. Alternatively, it could be delayed till after the first icebreaker.

Preset Ground Rules

There are several methods for setting ground rules. The simplest method is to include a slide in the PowerPoint presentation at the beginning of a training session listing a set of ground rules and to point to them as you proceed to that slide.

Sample of Ground Rules

Ground rules may vary from just requiring participants to switch off their cell phones or make them silent during the training session to a more elaborate set of ground rules including no smoking during the training session or inside the training room, asking questions only at the end of the training session and so on.

Collaborative Ground Rules

An alternative way for setting ground rules, other than listing them on a slide, is to have participants themselves suggest ground rules and write them down on a flip chart sheet. The trainer can then use voting to accept or reject any of those ground rules. The trainer may even go a step further by removing a suggested ground rule himself in order make a training session more relaxed.

he flip chart sheet can be hung on the wall at the side and in front of all participants containing the final set of ground rules clearly written in large type to act as a reminder for participants throughout the training program. The trainer can also easily refer back to it in case of any participant breaking any of the agreed upon ground rules. Icons can be drawn next to the ground rule statements for even better communication.

Allowing participants to participate in setting up the ground rules makes them more willing to abide by them.


Setting up ground rules from the start of the first training session in a training program can save the trainer a lot of effort and help make the training sessions run smoothly through such short or long set of ground rules be it preset by the trainer or decided on collaboratively by participants attending the training.

Do you think there are cases when it is not necessary to set ground rules? What are such cases?


Silencing Cell Phones During Training

It is essential to ask participants at the beginning of the first session of a training program to make their cell phones silent. Having a participant every now and then getting out of the training room to answer his or her cell phone disturbs the training and breaks the focus of the rest of the participants.


This can be done as part of laying down the ground rules or it can be done by itself if there are no other ground rules to set. If the trainer is using a PowerPoint presentation, he can make a slide with the image of a cell phone and a cross over it. An alternative is to wait until the first cell phone rings and then ask everyone to make their cell phones silent.


It is a good idea to tell participants that you, the trainer, are going to make your own cell phones silent also with them and do so in front of them after asking them to do so. Such a behavior for the trainer makes it feel totally OK for them and guards against offending anyone who had not made his or her cell phone silent before the training session started.

Calling Back

You should make it clear to participants that whenever they receive a phone call during the training session they should disregard it while calling back during one of the breaks.

Clearly asking participants to make their cell phones silent during the training session will help in having a smoother running and more focused and thus useful training session.

In what situations do you think it would be appropriate to allow a participant to answer his or her cell phone during the time the training session is running?