6 Ps method, meeting planning tips

Planning for a meeting that successfully meets every objective takes rigorous discipline and clear purpose. Fortunately, there are some best practices that you can take to create a facilitated interaction that is purposeful and productive.

Whether you are preparing for running a task force, delivering a presentation or meeting with a customer, the secret to preparation is the same: you must achieve a clear understanding of the “six P’s.”

  1. Purpose – Why are we holding this session?
  2. Product – What do we want to have when we are done?
  3. Process – How will we go about achieving the purpose and product?
  4. Participants – Who will be attending the session?
  5. Probable Issues – What are the potential problems or issues that may surface?
  6. Place – Where will the session be held and with whom should I speak about the needs for the room?

While each scenario will be unique and preparation may include other considerations, these are consistently important. The answers you uncover will be the most reliable way to clarify your objectives, what needs to be done, and how you will proceed.

It is important to decide the six P’s in order. Even if your exercise does not delve into all six categories, make sure that purpose always precedes process. In other words, begin by defining the “why” of the session – the main reason that the team has gathered.


Define the Meeting Products

Once the purpose is defined and a process is outlined, the team can consider product, participants, probable issues, and place. Products are the specific takeaways of the session that typically reflect three priorities. You will identify what you want people to have in their hands (the deliverables), their heads (new knowledge), and their hearts (their beliefs).

Identifying the products you want to result from the meeting can be a relatively simple process. Your task is to ask questions such as:

  • What specific tangible products or outcomes do I want to have produced when the meeting is over?
  • What do I want the participants to have in their hands, know in their heads, and believe in their hearts?
  • Three months following the meeting, how will I know the meeting was successful?

The answers can produce things like a detailed action/responsibility list, mission statement and strategies for achieving the goal, a plan for addressing any outstanding issues, approval to proceed, and benchmarks for success.


The Sponsor Interview

The meeting sponsor holds primary responsibility for answering the six P’s. This is true even if you are leading a task force or facilitating a meeting. It is likely that you will have to conduct an initial interview to gather this fundamental information. We have compiled a sample list of sponsor questions to assist in this first important step.


  • Why are you having this session? What is the purpose?
  • What is telling you that this session is needed? What are the problems you are trying to solve?
  • How do you know there is a problem? What are the symptoms?
  • What are the implications of not solving this problem?


  • What is it that you are hoping to achieve from this session? What specific product or deliverable should be created?
  • How will you know you have been successful?
  • If you achieve this kind of success, what would be the benefit to your organization?


  • What are some of the steps that you feel we should consider taking during the session?
  • What types of facilitated activities has this group undertaken in the past? What were the results?
  • What steps have you taken already to address the purpose and product?


  • Who will be attending the session? What are their perspectives or concerns?
  • Will the attendees know each other? Are any people on unfavorable terms? Are introductions needed?
  • Are there participants who are not in favor of holding the session, or who stand to lose something if the session is successful, or whose issues or ways of communication I should know about?

Probable Issues

  • What are the potential problems or issues that may surface?
  • What challenges do you anticipate in addressing these issues?
  • Are there specific topics you feel should not be discussed in the session?
  • How should I go about gaining an orientation on the session topics and the issues?


  • Where will the session be held and with whom should I speak about the needs for the room?
  • How should the room be set up?
  • What supplies are needed for the room?

Keep in mind that not all questions are appropriate for every session. In fact, for some sessions, several of the questions are somewhat redundant. Select those questions most relevant to the effort you are facilitating.

To learn more about facilitation skills, consider our course, The Effective Facilitator. The four-day course provides a structured approach for leading teams and facilitating meetings and covers more than 100 other techniques for getting amazing results from groups.