How To PAVE Your Way to Better Meetings

Ken Larson

Ken Larson

Every single one of us sits through countless worthless meetings. Admit it! We need to change this. 

As an executive coach, it’s been my experience that far too many of these meetings are destined to deteriorate well in advance, and mostly by default. 

There’s a tendency to overpopulate them with reports, issues, conversations, and numbers, and then walk out unfulfilled, or worse, resentful of the time it took you away from your “real priorities”!

But this attitude results in failure more often than not.

So instead of buying a huge book about proper meeting prep (and there are a LOT of them), read this short blog:

We use the “PAVE” approach & acronym to teach leaders how to properly prepare for quick, high value, and fun “do-it-and-get-out” meetings with the right people.


Step One: Create / Establish the PURPOSE

You need to create clarity with a purpose statement:

Determine the why, who, what, and when.

Why are we meeting? Who is attending? What needs to be discussed? When is it?

You need to clearly indicate this purpose so that the attendees who didn’t write it can still read it, make sense of it, and buy into it!

Regardless of the frequency of the meetings (daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly, or annually) this purpose can be (and should be) set.


Step Two: Determine / Clarify the VALUE You’re Seeking

If you can’t get clarity about the value of the meeting, then why are you having it? How does the value align with the purpose – not just of the meeting, but with the company’s goals and aspirations?

Where is the value? 

The value in meetings should be related to:

  • Vision / Goals
  • Numbers / Data
  • Timelines / Deadlines
  • People in attendance
  • Actions / Accountability

Know what materials and documents need to be shared in advance.

The lens through which we look at the meeting will determine its functional components. 

For example: 

  • Do we need visuals? 
  • Is there reading that needs to be absorbed in advance?
  • Will it require a PowerPoint? 
  • Will everyone need their laptops? 
  • Does the meeting environment matter? 
  • Do we need to meet in person?

Better yet, can this all be accomplished in an email?

Remember: No Surprises!

If any necessary information needs to be reviewed prior, this needs to be sent out with ample time for all to read and absorb. However, be very clear when sending these materials. State what you want from the reader either prior to or in the meeting. 


Step Three: Build / Set the AGENDA

It might sound crazy, but setting an agenda is the third thing you need to do. You can’t schedule a 15-minute phone call and then determine that the purpose is to create an entire business strategy for Q4. You’re setting yourself up for failure.

General categories for effective agendas…

  • Opening statements to set the tone and remind all of the purpose. Our philosophy is… Be Brief, Be Bold, Be Gone! (I always throw “Be Bald” in there, because I can 🙂 )
  • “WWW” review: how’d we do since the last meeting?
  • Content discussion and decision making.
  • Speaking topics along with who’s leading that discussion. Include the approximate time required.
  • Preparation of visuals for on-screen viewing, if necessary.
  • Clarity check.
  • Closing statements to wrap it all in a bow.



Step Four: Figure Out the EXECUTABLES:

Now that you know what needs to be done, there needs to be a commitment from the people who agree to execute each task within the scope of the project. 

This needs to be recorded as it happens in the meeting with the “WWW tool” (who-what-when). Get crystal clear on the task, who the champion is (and others assisting), and the deadline for completion.

Be sure to review it in detail at the end of the meeting to ensure clarity. Often, action items are captured at the beginning of and during the meeting, and by the time the meeting is about to close and the tasks are reviewed, no one knows what they meant. 

Don’t do this, OK?


After the Meeting:

Instead of sending out “the minutes” as an attachment to those who didn’t attend the meeting, include a link to the document where the right people can go view. This keeps your email short (EMAIL RULE: don’t make me scroll). The only thing that should be attached is the Who-What-When (WWW) with champions, actions, and timelines. 

But wait… You’re not done yet! 

Before you get back into your own whirlwind, do a brief evaluation.

  1. What worked?
  2. What didn’t?
  3. What needs to change?

Then bring this up at the next meeting. Ensure your first item on the agenda is a review of these questions. It’s amazing what happens to accountability when task champions have to report openly in front of their peers how they made out with their tasks.


The Value of Canceling Meetings

Sometimes we simply have better things to do. 

If you use the PAVE approach to determine that there isn’t a clear purpose and/or value, then feel free to cancel (or at least question) the reasoning for the meeting. 


Doesn’t that feel great?
And look, you saved a ton of time.




What is the purpose of your next meeting?
What value are you planning to get from it?
Therefore…… What needs to be on the agenda?
What are the executables / actions that you need and / or anticipate?


If you need help with determining any of these factors, feel free to reach out for some help. We specialize in executive coaching for Calgary businesses, and we’d love to save you some time.

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