Meetings can fail for an infinite number of reasons, but I’d group them into three main categories:
1) They’re “Meaningless Jargon Updates.”
You’ve attended these meetings. You go around the room, and everyone gives an update — using their department’s own jargon. The IT folks talk about new server architecture, and the attendees from Human Resources and Marketing start daydreaming about lunch.
2) They’re aimless.
If no one in the room knows why they’re there, or where the meeting is going or what it’s supposed to accomplish, how do they know if things are on track? How do they know what they should be talking about, or taking away from the discussion? Time to start daydreaming about lunch again.
3) They fail to motivate or inspire.
It usually comes down to this last reason: no one in the room feels inspired. They don’t care. They just want the meeting to end.
The best way to inspire in a meeting (or as a manager or executive generally) is to show your team how what they’re doing connects to the larger picture.
If you call a staff meeting to investigate audio transcription tools, your team will come out of the meeting with tasks.
But if you call a meeting to discuss how you can add a transcript to your company’s videos — so that deaf people can enjoy them too — your team will come out of the meeting with a purpose.