Ever been to a business meeting? Ever thought it was a waste of time? Let’s explore how the 5Ps of meeting effectiveness may help you have a better meeting. Whether you have a meeting in person, on the phone, or online using Zoom or Microsoft Teams, there are some steps you can take to make that meeting more effective and productive.

This article will explain the 5Ps in the context of having a meeting. We will also discuss the benefits of using the 5Ps as a guide to running a better meeting.

Overview: What are the 5Ps? 

As businesses become more complex, solutions to problems require greater collaboration between the people in your organization. Having a meeting just to have a meeting is a waste of everyone’s time. Having an unproductive meeting is also a waste of everyone’s time. By using the 5Ps as a guide, the meetings you do need to have can be more effective. 

Unfortunately, a quick search of the Internet will show that there are a number of different definitions of what the 5Ps stand for. Although there is commonality of the concept, the names and sequence of the 5Ps will vary. Here are just a few.

  1. Purpose, Participants, Process, Payoff, and Preparation 
  2. Purpose, Participants, Process, Product, Preparation
  3. Purpose, Preparation, Process, Participation, Progress
  4. Purpose, Planning, Preparation, Participation, P.S.
  5. Purpose, Product/Pay-off, Participants, Probable issues, Process
  6. Jokingly, a 6th P has been suggested: Pizza

For this article, we are going to use the following terms and sequence since they seem to make the most sense.

  1. Purpose: Your meeting will be taking people away from their job and what they are currently working on. You need to have a clear reason and purpose for doing that. Provide a clear purpose for calling your meeting so everyone will understand why you are having your meeting and the importance of attending.
  2. Participants: You should carefully consider who you’re inviting to the meeting. Your meeting participants should be people who can make decisions or contribute information. Be clear as to what role each person will play during the meeting and what they can contribute. Don’t invite people just to share information. There are better and more efficient mechanisms for doing that.
  3. Preparation: Take some time to plan what you want as the deliverables of the meeting and what you want to accomplish. Provide an agenda (with time frames) so participants can come prepared to get things done. Bring all relevant information, reports, data, control charts, and other items so time is not wasted running around to gather needed information. The same holds true for the participants. Be sure they know what they need to do to properly prepare for the meeting. Make arrangements for a properly set-up room if having an in-person meeting, or technical arrangements for a teleconference meeting.
  4. Process: A meeting can be thought of as a process, much like the other processes in your business. How you run the meeting can affect whether the time has been productive and efficient or just organized chaos. This includes following the agenda, staying focused on the work to be done, taking meeting notes, making decisions as appropriate, communicating the meeting outcomes to others, and many other mundane but critical tasks. It might be interesting for you to construct a SIPOC of your meeting so you understand the possible elements you might look at to improve your meeting process.
  5. Progress: People should leave the meeting having accomplished something. People should be held accountable for their commitments and tasks from the previous meeting. Decisions should be made and documented. Try not to table too many items. Everyone should leave the meeting knowing exactly what needs to be accomplished next. Discuss and agree on the next steps, and document any future commitments and tasks to be completed.

3 benefits of the 5Ps 

An unproductive meeting is a waste of people’s time and is one of the 7 wastes of both Lean and DOTWIMP. Using the 5Ps can make your meetings more efficient — and hopefully shorter.

1. Easy to understand 

The elements of the 5Ps are simple to understand. Everyone has some level of experience attending meetings and should be able to relate to the 5Ps. 

2. More efficient use of time 

By using the 5Ps as a template for your meetings, you will be able to accomplish more in less time. 

3. Documentation 

By having an agenda, taking notes during the meeting, capturing next steps and communicating the meeting outcomes, you will have a documented paper trail of the work and progress of your meetings. 

Why are the 5Ps important to understand? 

Many organizations have meetings for the sake of meetings. They have a recurring Monday meeting just because it is Monday, without necessarily understanding why they are having the meeting and what they hope to accomplish.  


Applying the 5Ps will help keep your meeting on track and on task. Many meetings go off the rails because there is no structure, so the meeting concludes with little being accomplished. 


Whether you have a recurring meeting or an ad hoc meeting, you need to plan and execute the meeting so the maximum output can be done with minimal investment of time. Regardless of the type of meeting you have, use the 5Ps to make it more productive. This even includes Six Sigma meetings intended to complete activities of the DMAIC model for improvement.


Many organizations require that a document be completed prior to calling a meeting to justify the purpose of the meeting. If you can’t establish and convey a clear purpose and intended outcomes of a meeting, then you shouldn’t have one. 

An industry example of the 5Ps 

Jonathan recently took over the management of the HR department. After surveying his employees, he heard that the previous manager held a lot of meetings, but most were a waste of time. People were unsure why the meeting was being held, why they were invited, and what they were supposed to accomplish.

Jonathan had some success in his previous job using the 5Ps to run his meetings. He decided to see if he could have similar success with his new group of employees. For his first meeting as the new manager, Jonathan applied the 5Ps.

He made sure he made it clear why the meeting was being held and why the people invited to attend the meeting were selected. He distributed a clear agenda with times and specified what preparation was needed by everyone and what to bring to the meeting. He assigned one of the participants to take notes and keep an eye on the meeting dynamics. 

At the end of the meeting, he reconfirmed the commitments and next steps that everyone was to be held accountable for. The next day, he distributed a summary of the meeting and again a reiteration of commitments and next steps. The feedback that he got from the participants was that the meeting was the best one that they had attended in years. They vowed to start applying the 5Ps to their own meetings.

3 best practices when thinking about the 5Ps 

You have probably attended many meetings in the past, but that experience does not necessarily make you an expert on holding an effective and productive meeting. Here are a few tips on how to use the 5Ps. 

1. Establish a clear purpose and the right participants 

If you have a clear purpose, be sure the meeting participants you’re inviting will be able to contribute to the achievement of that purpose. Don’t invite people just because they are available or want to attend. They must help you achieve your meeting purpose.  

2. Have a meeting leader and a process observer 

The meeting leader will be focusing on the discussion and trying to process all the comments and interactions taking place. They may be too consumed with that to notice and appreciate any interpersonal and meeting dynamics or keep track of time allocated to each topic. Assign one of the participants to observe the interactions and keep track of time. They can serve as a second set of eyes and ears and intervene as needed.

3. Rotate the job of note taker 

Share the experience of being a meeting note taker with the other participants. As the leader of the meeting, you cannot run the meeting and hope to capture a full set of notes at the same time. Possibly, assign the job of note taker to the last person to arrive at the meeting. That’s a sure fire way to get people to show up on time and even early. 

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) about the 5Ps

What are the 5Ps? 

Unfortunately, that’s a tricky question since different authors attribute different names to the 5Ps as well as the sequence they are listed in. The most common nomenclature uses purpose, participants, and process. Others include planning, preparation, progress, P.S., and product. 

Which is the most important P of the 5Ps? 

Purpose is the most important P. Without a clear purpose for holding the meeting, you won’t have to worry about the others. You shouldn’t hold the meeting without a clear purpose. 

Are the 5Ps used in any other application? 

Yes, there is another use of 5Ps in marketing. There the 5Ps stand for product, price, promotion, place, and people. In strategy, you will see these 5Ps written as plan, ploy, pattern, position, and perspective.

The 5Ps of leadership are listed as personal attributes, position, purpose, processes, and product. You might also see the 5Ps applied to characteristics of success. These are passion, persistence, planning, people, and positivity. The bottom line is that you need to understand the context of the 5Ps you’re reading about.

The 5Ps of effective meetings 

If you need to have a meeting in your organization and want it to be efficient, effective, and productive, use the 5Ps to help guide you.

  1. Establish a clear purpose for having the meeting.
  2. Select the most appropriate participants who will help you accomplish your purpose.
  3. Prepare and plan for your meeting.
  4. Execute the meeting in a structured fashion to assure that everything gets done as planned and next steps are clear.
  5. Communicate progress as appropriate.
About the Author