The Three P’s: The Meeting is the Message

Accountability Growth mindset Teamwork


Key Point: The way you conduct and/or participate at a meeting says a lot about who you are as a leader. So this blog’s title is a play on the words of one of the world’s most famous contemporary philosophers, Canada’s Marshall McLuhan. He famously quipped, “The medium is the message.

I normally run a pretty darn good meeting. However, I recently chaired a team meeting and it wasn’t up to the standard of excellence I expect. Why? Frankly I hadn’t properly prepared and my teammates deserved better. First of all the video technology we applied failed and we wasted a lot time trying to get it right. The room was insufficient to seat the additional people joining us for the afternoon. The catering was late and poor quality. The meeting content was meaningful but I did not have the best plan to facilitate a fully productive outcome. I am not sure everyone in attendance added or received the value they and I desired and deserved. We ran late. Overall, it kind of sucked.

What does that say about me as a leader? To me, it says that on that day I could have been much better and need to be mindful that I can’t take my monthly team meetings for granted. If I’m the chair of a meeting I need to execute on the “Three P’s:” Payoff (expected results and outcome), Participants (who really needs to be in attendance) and Process (the facilitation method to get to the desired payoff). To ensure an effective meeting the leader needs to pay exceptional attention to this Three P detail.

At another meeting where I was a participant, I watched a colleague spend at least 75 percent of his/ her time at the meeting on a mobile device (and it wasn’t to take notes). It was not only rude, but disrespectful to all other participants. The rest of us did not get this person’s presence and attention. As a result, this person was not fully engaged and essentially taking up space. How can you garner the respect of your colleagues when you don’t give them your full consideration? What if it was this person’s turn to present and everyone hit their smart phones? Being a participant also requires planning the Three P’s: What Payoff do you want from each subject on the agenda? As a Participant leader, be clear about why you’re at the meeting and the value you’re expected to bring. When you review that agenda in advance, determine what Process role you need to contribute to add personal value to the meeting. Be a participant leader. Have the accountability to make the meeting great too.

(Btw if you’re a meeting organizer, you have a responsibility to be sure the logistics support the desired outcomes. I can’t tell you how many meetings have been sub-optimized by poor logistical support).

Character Moves:

  1. Commit to making meetings you lead and attend more effective next year. Be a better Three P planner and executor.
  2. How many meetings will you attend next year? Can you imagine the productivity increase if everyone was self-accountable enough to execute better on the Three P’s? You can’t fix everyone else, so focus on yourselves first. Apply the Three P checklist.
  3. Remember that the “meeting is the message.” Raise the bar very high and make it so.

Three P’s in the Triangle,