How Meta Are Your Meetings? Leveling-Up Meetings Using Metacognition and Mental-Models

December 26, 2022

Creating Measurable Meetings — Purpose Process Output (PPO)

Being a successful Leader means genuinely understanding and showing the value of yours’ and others’ time, energy, and talents. You look for opportunities to improve your Leadership skills and communications, striving to become more clear, aligned, and trusted.

Meetings are an opportunity to strengthen these Leadership skills. Meetings that have a purposeful message, with an outlined process, and specified deliverables are often the most efficient and can even be emotionally fulfilling to both the audience and the presenter. Creating meetings with a clear Purpose, Process, and Output (PPO) also presents an opportunity to utilize the session as a measurable communication tool, gauging the level of effectiveness of both your communication and the tangible outputs of your meetings.

To help you create your own successful and measurable meeting, here’s some guiding thoughts to consider when drafting your PPO Meeting communications:

golden west center

Start at the End: Define the Output

First, you need to know where we’re going to take our audience, so we’ll begin by working-backwards, by building the Output. Creating the Output first provides a target in which the rest of the meeting will work towards.

At the end of any Process, an Output of a product or service should be produced. Successful meetings produce measurable “products of your imagination”. For instance:

·       If you’re seeking further clarification on a topic, what does “clarification” look like? How do you confirm knowledge was transferred?

·       Is an Action-Item created with follow-up needed?

Keep-in-mind, the Output of a single meeting is likely input to multiple Purposes, whether that means actions toward a solution, additional data to make value-added decisions, or even an additional meeting to for a Project status-update.

What’s the Purpose of this Meeting?

Simply put, why is this meeting important? What problem are we here to solve? What specific topic(s) need our collective attention? Since the Purpose is a focus-of-attention of your presentation, provide a precise introduction that explains the goal and the topics that will be covered. The Purpose must be obvious, based on the needs of your audience while being worthy of the time you intend to devote to both the topic and those you’ll be speaking to.

To avoid your audience asking themselves “Why are we even here?”, some questions to consider to frame your Purpose are:

  • What is the rationale of bringing people together? Is this something that could have been an email or a group chat?
  • Why is this the specific group of people invited? If decisions are needed, are the appropriate participants (or their proxy) in attendance?
  • Is it the correct timing to have the meeting? Simply put, why now? Is there an urgency that arose (or should have been known) that prompted the meeting? Likewise, are you allowing an appropriate amount of time to deliver your message as-well-as leaving room to field questions?

And remember, because you already created the Output, you can ensure the Output Action-Items assist in answering what is stated as the Purpose of the meeting. It’s crucial that the Output correlates in answering what is stated as the Purpose of the meeting.

Gap-Assessment of Purpose & Output = Process

After you’ve determined the meeting is necessary, ask what kind of meeting is needed in order to begin building the Agenda?

·       Will it be in-person, online, hybrid?

·       Are there multiple time-zones or blocked calendars to consider?

There will likely be sub-topics and a need for discussion amongst the group.

·       How many sub-topic sections will there be?

·       Who are each section’s owner and how long will each section of the meeting last?

·       Will you need breaks?

Now, take into consideration the time your participants will need prior to the meeting to be prepared.

·       Have you provided adequate time for participants to be prepared?

·       What do attendees need to prepare or provide?

·       Will required documents be attached?

·       Will there be time allotted to read attached documents in the meeting or will Attendees need to review a document prior?

·       Can some participate without the need to physically or virtually attend?

A successful meeting values people’s time. Identify who should attend the meeting and who should just be informed? What roles will you and the attendees play to achieve the meeting’s Purpose and Output?

Applying the Mental-Model of “Second-Level Thinking”

When thinking on a Second-Level, one takes a step back and considers the multi-dimensional implications of a potential decision or course of action.

Second-Level Thinking is an effective tool that can aid in decision-making and sharper thinking. It entails pausing to consider the secondary effects of a potential choice, including downstream operational impacts as-well-as the mindsets of your audience. Itentails considering the likelihood of the potential outcomes in the future in addition to the present situation.

Using Mental-Models such as Second-Level Thinking helps to shift into responding to situations rather than reacting to them. You may also be able to see and feel opportunities that you might have overlooked or never had considered.

  1. PAUSE-TO-THINK – When making a choice, pause for a moment to consider the options. What are the immediate and long-term effects of each possibility? What are the benefits and risks? Establishing the reliability of the information you use to make a decision is just as important. How credible is the source?
  2. CONSIDER CAUSES & EFFECTS – It’s time to consider all of the options after you have thought about the immediate and long-term effects of each choice. What influences the likelihood of each happening? What are each’s benefits and drawbacks? What are the benefits and risks?
  3. CHOOSE THE OPTIONS – Based on the information you have gathered, pick the strategy and tactics you think will work best in the situation.
  4. MEASURE YOUR DECISION – Now that you’ve made a decision, do an assessment to understand what went according as planned and where are the opportunities to improve. Did you make the best decision you could have? Are you pleased with the outcome? Are there any unexpected outcomes?

As you apply Second-Level Thinking, there are a few things to keep in mind:

  • You must first become conscious of your own prejudices and presumptions. Without acknowledging and separating your experiential biases, your decisions will continue to be skewed and potential opportunities will be missed.
  • Second, you must be prepared to alter your degree of “knowing”. As you seek new viewpoints and when information becomes available, having the ability to consider and accept newly-proven information opens the mind to new set of possibilities to consider.
  • And last, you must be patience and continuously practice. Being deliberate and persistent, as with most things, is key when honing your thinking. Again, be patient, you are exercising and changing the neuropathways of your brain.

As you continue to refine and provide genuine value to your meetings, you’ll begin to see Attendees’ attitudes shift from a feeling of “their time being spent” to one of “investing their time in” when participating in your measurably-successful meetings.

BONUS: Meta-data Driven Questions to Increase Efficiency of Your Meetings:

  • Why have there been so many meetings on the same topic, but no resolution? What needs to change to avoid this pattern?
  • When booking a room, will you need pre- or post-time built into the room reservation for set-up of the room, checking-in Attendees, cleaning the meeting space, or to field additional questions?
  • Are there Required Attendees? How Required are they (Is their attendance absolutely necessary or can they send a Proxy)?






© Golden west Consulting & Learning center



 Get the Golden West Productivity Tools and stay on target of your goals.




Privacy  Policy