How to run meetings that POPPP [AKA run excellent meetings that people appreciate]

By Sarah Bedrick September 9th, 2019

Have you ever sat in on a bad meeting?

Of course, you have. We all have.

Maybe it was bad because everyone in the room was confused as to the purpose of the meeting. Or maybe everyone was sure of the goal but unsure of the best way to accomplish it. Or perhaps you've been in a meeting wondering why you were invited. Or one of my least favorites, the meeting where an hour is dedicated but all of the work is done within the last 5 minutes because it was so poorly planned and managed.

We've all been there, and bad meetings suck. Not only do they suck up valuable time from team members, but they also suck up costs, too (about $283 billion a year).

If an average person spends about 12 of their 40-week workweek in meetings, wouldn't it be amazing if those meetings were purposeful and productive?

That's where POPPPs comes in.

POPPPs is a process that helps you plan and host a perfect meeting.

meetings that popp
And whether you're in-office or remote, POPPPs will help your meetings soar. 

What is POPPPs?

It's an acronym that stands for purpose, outcome, process, people, and preparation.

Why do we need it?

To make meetings that people love. Or more specifically, to host meetings that are productive, efficient, and add value to the team rather than take away from it.

How does it work?

Purpose:

First, you want to add to the agenda the purpose of the meeting.

Consider completing the following statement, "The goal of this meeting is....". 

Outcome:

Then you want to define the outcomes of the meeting clearly. An excellent way to do this is by finishing the statement below:

"By the end of this meeting, we will have...

  • Completed XYZ
  • Decided between options A and B
  • Develop and agree to project timelines and deliverables."

Another sentence you could use is my personal favorite, "This meeting will be successful if..." This line cuts through the clutter and lets everyone know what success looks like for this meeting they're all attending.

Process:

This one is an often-overlooked addition to meetings. The process should be thought of in two ways:

  1. The best method to get to the desired outcomes. Whoever is hosting the meeting should come up with time-boxes for each section of the meeting, the exercises or tools needed, and anything else that will help achieve the goal. If your meeting's purpose is to brainstorm, there are many different techniques to brainstorming. Think this through beforehand so you can communicate the process to the attendees.
  2. Additionally, if there are meeting norms, they should be included here. Things that could potentially fall into this bucket include creating a technology-ban throughout the meeting, stating that one person will communicate at a time or anything else related to the social-skills side of things that will aid in this meeting running smoothly.

This doesn't need to be added to the meeting agenda, but it does need to be shared at the onset of the meeting. People want to know what to expect during the meeting and how they're expected to behave, and this helps you do that. 

People:

Make sure you invite the right people.

If people may be confused as to why they're there, it can be helpful at the onset addressing each person and why they're in the room and how they fit into the POP framework. 

One type of project management technique I like to use is the DARCI concept. It's another acronym (SURPRISE!) which stands for delegator/decider, accountable, responsible, consulted, and informed. Some people who attend a meeting might need to be consulted as to the topic at hand; others might need to simply be informed, consider this before inviting everyone to your next meeting and communicating it to the people who attend your meeting.

Read on about DARCI: https://www.impactbnd.com/blog/what-is-the-darci-accountability-grid

Preparation:

Lastly, if people need to prepare for the meeting, be sure to include notes on this as well. Preparing can be reading articles, watching videos, reviewing powerpoint decks, or preparing mentally by coming with energy and focus. If there is some preparation, it's best to tell your attendees this via email beforehand. Be sure to give them enough time ahead of time too. There's nothing worse than getting an email in the morning with prep work for a meeting that you have in the afternoon. A good rule of thumb is to give your attendees a week to prepare, but again, depending on what needs to be done, you may need more or less time.

Is there anything else that this framework can be used for?

I'm so glad you asked. The first three letters of POP is a framework that you can use for anything strategic planning-related. The POP framework was initially developed by Leslie Sholl Jaffe and her partner Randall Alford, and here's how they describe it,

"POP is a useful tool for a multitude of the daily activities leaders find themselves faced with: meeting agendas, campaigns, difficult conversations, unplanned calls, and conversations… As you can gather from the list, POP is scalable; it can be used for large, long term projects, regular weekly staff meetings, a meeting you attend or a call that comes in that has no agenda, coaching/mentoring sessions…”

If you think about the POP framework outside of meetings, here's how it can apply worded differently (and more succinctly).

  • “Purpose” answers the question “why
  • “Outcome" speaks to “what” – the vision of what success will look and feel like when you ‘arrive’
  • “Process” speaks to “how” – the specific steps involved in getting there.

Anytime I feel like I'm in the weeds, confused as to why I'm meeting with someone, or just need to get the conversation/project back on track – I think about the purpose, outcome, and process.

Oh, and if you're as big a fan of Simon Sinek as I am, you might have noticed that the first three items of the POP framework are the same three areas of focus he highlights in his TED talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, but just in a different order. 

No go off and plan meetings that POPPP! And better yet, plan days and projects that POP too!