Mark Pearl

4 P Meetings - how do we make meetings more impactful?

Focus on the 4Ps of a meeting. Touch on each of the P’s at the beginning of a meeting.

Purpose - why is this meeting happening? The purpose of this meeting is to [update, explore, decide…]

Product - what will the group have at the end of the meeting that didn’t exist at the start? We will leave here with [five ideas, a decision, a list, greater connection,…]

Personal Benefit - how will this benefit each person attending? This will help you/us [save time, feel aligned, make an impact…]

Process - how will we structure the conversation? We’ll spend the first half on agenda point X and the second half on point Y. Make the process (the agenda) visible to everyone. Agendas should have time estimates for each item.

Types of Meetings

The most common meeting types are:

Inform: share information, news, thoughts, and/or feelings or answer questions

Explore: ask questions, generate ideas, spark insights

Narrow: debate, prioritize, vote, decide, work out a plan of action

Beware of entanglement - Without a clear meeting purpose, it’s easy for everyone to pull in the direction of their preferred meeting type. The result is ‘entanglement’. This is when your meeting starts to look like a random bundle of cords hiding away in some forgotten drawer.

Inform Meetings

An ‘Inform’ type meeting is most at risk of being a bore.

If your meeting is going to be a one-way data-dump without interaction, you can save everyone time by sending a message instead. This could be in a presentation, a video or email.

That said, there are several good uses for this type of meeting if you use the right tools.

Inform meeting tool #1: Round-robins

A round-robin is a process of going around to hear from each person in the group. Round-robins are efficient because you don’t have to wait around and wonder who will speak next. They also help harness the collective wisdom of your team, instead of letting just a few voices run the show.

Research shows that when people take equal turns in a conversation, this leads to better team performance. This is more important for performance than even collective team member IQ! So, when you do round-robins, be sure to give everyone equal speaking time.

And a final tip from the professionals. Use a timer you can hear so people can track their own talking time, or use a video call plug-in that shows participants how long each person has been speaking.

Let’s look at how a round-robin works in practice.

Inform meeting tool #2: Rotate roles

For regular meetings to give information, great managers ask team members to take turns leading. That way people don’t get stuck in a position of high power or low power. Common roles to rotate include:

Sending minutes

Rotating roles gives everyone an opportunity to be visible and to share in administrative tasks. It teaches people to be better meeting participants by building empathy for all roles. As a bonus, each person brings their own ‘flavor’ to these roles, creating variety in what could otherwise become a monotonous meeting.

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