How many meetings do you find yourself in without a clear objective? Do you get stressed in the meeting knowing that the real work is building up while you are stuck? Does the meeting organizer fool anyone when he is unprepared?
“People who enjoy meetings should not be in charge of anything.” –Thomas Sewell
Years ago, I was introduced to the concept of the “three P’s” at a Wilson Learning sales training seminar. It was introduced as an effective sales tool. Throughout the years, I have used the three P’s as a way to conduct effective meetings of any kind. It isn’t just a sales technique. It can be a way to save a lot of time and energy and focus the meeting on the objective.
“The least productive people are usually the ones who are most in favor of holding meetings.” –Thomas Sewell
Use the 3P’s to Get More Done In Less Time
What are the three P’s? Purpose. Process. Payoff.
Why is the meeting taking place? What is the goal?
How are we going to go about the meeting? Is it a discussion or a presentation? Do you want me to read something or watch something?
What’s in it for me to sit through the presentation or join the conversation? What’s the expected outcome? This is the benefit statement, designed to show why the meeting is worth the time.
“Meetings are indispensable when you don’t want to do anything.” -John Kenneth Galbraith
The technique should not be a fifteen-minute starting point at the beginning of a meeting. It should be no more than a minute and possibly even emailed before the meeting.
“Meetings are at the heart of an effective organization.” -Paul Axtell
Here is an example of how it can be used in almost any situation:
The purpose of this meeting is to review the concerns Sara raised in her email about customer response to our new product offering in Europe. I want to show that her concerns have been heard and we have extensive plans in place. What I want to do is walk you through three slides on the status, show you the results of our customer survey, and then have us agree on our monthly goals and the ownership of the next steps (process). If everything works out, Sara will feel good and our payoff will be clear objectives, an agreed-upon plan, and increased sales (payoff). Does that sound good to everyone?
At various times, I have required the purpose, process, and payoff in advance of scheduling a meeting. It is an enormous help in setting expectations. The discipline is particularly beneficial for people or organizations accustomed to long meetings with numerous attendees without a clear purpose.
Try adding the three P’s to your permanently scheduled meetings and you will find many of them are unnecessary.
Here’s an observation: If the purpose is “information sharing,” then you can almost always cancel the meeting. Add up the people in the room and approximate the hourly cost of the meeting. It is cheaper to share information in email or other means. When a meeting I am running doesn’t go as planned, I almost always find the fault is that I neglected to think through the three P’s.
Another observation: Have you ever left a meeting with more confusion than when you went in? Often the lack of purpose is the culprit. If you already left the meeting, try clarifying the 3P’s with the attendees in a follow-up note. You may find that everyone left with a different perspective. What do you need to do then? You guessed it. Another meeting…