Some of the best stuff on meetings comes from Patrick Lencioni. And while he suggests plenty of good tactics to make the most of meetings, one of the least used is the most powerful:
Tell the story.
Our people want to be engaged in something meaningful. They want to know what they're trying to accomplish and why it matters. Presumably, this meeting plays an important role in some important effort (if not, why are we meeting?), so start by reminding us why we're here.
This isn't always easy. It can feel awkward, and it can be difficult to come up with a compelling narrative, especially for recurring meetings. But it doesn't have to be profound or dramatic - a simple reminder that this meeting is part of something much larger can be good enough.
(For that project review) "Remember how critical it is that we make smarter bets with our limited funds? Here's a chance to see how we're doing on that, and to make corrections if we're off track."
(For that new product development update) "Let's see how close we are to opening up that $10K/week spigot this new product creates."
(For that experimental effort) "OK, tell me how our favorite sneaky, brilliant side project is coming along... and how many unmarked bills you need to keep it going."
If it feels awkward, try it anyway. If it doesn't seem exciting, it's better than nothing. And if you're not sure it's worth it, think about your opportunity cost: count up the number of people in the room and multiply by your Productivity rate (usually $200K to $400K in annual revenue per employee).