PEA – A Simple Tool to Transform Meetings


How many times have you been to a meeting, whether a team meeting, project meeting or one to one with your manager, and felt like you had no idea where it was going? You might not have been clear on why you were there, what you were supposed to get out of it or no idea what was going to be discussed. (It’s also worth asking yourself if others could say the same thing about your meetings!)

If that sounds familiar, it’s because the person convening the meeting left out one very simple, yet crucial, element – right at the start. We need to kick off meeting with a PEA.



In the first minute or two of the meeting, and it really only does take a minute or two, you need to clarify:

The Purpose                  Why are we having the meeting?

For example, is the purpose to update everyone? Is it to make a decision? Is it to share ideas? Is it to review progress and agree on next steps?


The Endpoint               What do we need to have achieved by the end of the meeting?

For example, do we need a concrete action plan? Do we need some initial ideas to explore further after the meeting? Or do we simply need everyone to be fully up to date?



The Agenda                   If we’re going to achieve the Purpose and Endpoint, how will we do it?

What specifically we will discuss? What’s on and off the agenda? How will we discuss each of the agenda items?

For example, do we need a five minute update from everyone for one agenda item? Perhaps, for another agenda item, a brainstorm will work best? Or we might need to discuss the pros and cons of the ideas from the last meeting and make a final decision.




So what does a PEA look like in practice? Here’s an example:

Purpose:                   “We’re here today to look at the issues with the current team set up.

Endpoint:                  By the end of the meeting we need to have identified some options for restructuring the team that can take to the MD and HR Director.

Agenda:                     To do this, I suggest we agree on the current issues, be clear on what the new team structure needs to achieve for us and our customers and then explore the possible options for making it more effective. We’re not in a position to make a decision today but we can decide on what we would like to propose to the MD and HR Director.”

Of course, there’s no point making the effort to PEA at the beginning of the meeting if you’re not then going to follow through; so, you’ll have to do a little more work throughout the discussion to keep everyone on track but it should be much easier if you’ve established the Purpose, Endpoint and Agenda at the beginning.




Now, you might be thinking “That’s all very well, I can do that; but what if it doesn’t happen in the meetings I attend?”. Whilst I’ve described PEA as a set of statements you might make at the beginning of a meeting, you can also use PEA to ask others for clarity. For example:

Before we get started, can I check . . . .the purpose of today’s meeting?

                                                              what we need to achieve in today’s meeting?

                                                              what we need to discuss today?

                                                              what’s the best way of achieving that?

So, if you want to avoid meetings being described as a “magical mystery tour”, or worse, use PEA to get clarity and make sure the meeting achieves what it needs to. If you’re being super effective, you can include the PEA in your meeting request rather than people having to wait until they arrive at the meeting.

A course participant once said to us:

“I’m going to PEA in all my meetings and PEA in everyone else’s as well!”

I think that just about sums it up!

Will you do the same?

Posted by Julie Turner


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