I'm reading Robert's Rules for Dummies by C. Alan Jennings because I've often felt like a dummy when it comes to parliamentary procedure. Although there is a depressing amount of detail and labyrinthine elements to it all, reading this book on parliamentary procedure has been helpful to get the gist of how meeting should flow. There is a logic to the order and how to best handle things.
One of the key things I've gleaned is that meetings should be about making decisions. Robert's Rules presumes that people are prepared to make a decision, and that the meeting should be about proposals and voting. This is in contrast to most meetings today, which are more about delivering information, deliberating, and making jokes. Most people show up for meetings unprepared, and assume that there'll be a lot of time spent getting everyone else up to speed. This is clearly not very productive. And it's surprising to realize that even Gen. Robert the engineer knew, back in 1876, that a group's time is best used in making decisions, while deliberating and gathering information are best used by individuals.
Meetings would be drastically different if we were already prepared, and came ready to make decisions.