The 5 P’s of Productive Meetings

The 5 P’s of Productive Meetings 

I know that meetings get a bad rap. People hate them. They think that meetings are gigantic wastes of time. 

A Microsoft survey tracking office productivity contacted 38,000 workers around the world to identify “productivity pitfalls.” Respondents reported that two out of every five days on the job were wasted. The main culprit: “ineffective meetings.”

It doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, if you want to become a great company, you have to hold productive meetings if you want to achieve results. That’s what this section is all about.

Meetings can help you be more productive. They can actually save you time if you incorporate The 5 P’s of Productive Meetings.

1. Purpose.

Every productive meeting must have a clear purpose. Participants should know what the meeting is for. The purpose should be worth pulling people away from other productive work. 

For example, the purpose of one of your meetings could be to assess the status of your current Strategic Projects, agree on what the next steps are, and assign them as Tasks.

2. Preparation.

Preparation is key to productive meetings. Most importantly, you need good data to run a good meeting. Your dashboards should be updated prior to the meeting so that the data is current and accurate. Metrics (Key Performance Indicators) need to show the current score. Goals and Tasks need to be updated to reflect the current reality. Your dashboard must “tell the truth” about exactly where your company is at right now. All participants must complete any assigned prework and come prepared to share their personal perspectives in order to achieve the meeting’s purpose.

For example, preparation could require that anyone whose goals or tasks are falling behind needs to arrive prepared to discuss what is happening and to provide recommendations for how to move things forward. 

3. Process. 

Productive meetings have a clear process, which is defined by an agenda. Your agenda should describe specifically what topics will be discussed, in what order, and for how long, so that participants know what to expect and how to prepare appropriately. 

Ideally, you should have a standard agenda for every recurring meeting.

4. Participation.

Productive meetings are characterized by the participation of everyone who has been invited. People should only be invited to the meeting because they have something valuable to contribute to the discussion. Otherwise, they should not be there.

Limit the number of participants to those who “must” be involved, not those who would “like” to be involved. Most research recommends fewer than 10 people (with 5 to 8 being optimal). Only invite those whose knowledge and buy-in is essential to the decision-making process.

In addition to this, a meeting facilitator should be appointed who makes sure everyone present is given the opportunity to speak and asked to share their opinion, and not just let the louder, more extroverted team members dominate the discussion. 

Here is my guide on how to facilitate a meeting.

5. Progress.

In a productive meeting, everyone should make progress. They should leave the meeting better off than when they entered. People should be held accountable for keeping their commitments. Decisions need to be made and documented. Everyone should leave with clarity about what needs to be done next to move the Goals forward (ie. the “The One Thing“). 

Any progress achieved since the last meeting needs to be praised and acknowledged. Progress has been proven by research to be a key driver of employee motivation. When people can see that they are making incremental progress, and receive acknowledgment for it, they are much more likely to feel motivated and engaged.

Future progress is ensured by discussing and agreeing on the next steps, getting commitments from those involved, and documenting these commitments as specific Tasks to be done before the next meeting. 

The 5 P’s of productive meetings should apply for any meeting you hold. But there are 3 specific meetings that you should use to drive execution and productivity. They are the Weekly Team Meeting, the Daily Team Huddle, and the One-on-One Weekly Meeting.


Until next time…