Here is my Forbes piece (free registration required), in the October 1 issue. Excerpt:
Meetings also confer a sense of control. Attendees feel like
insiders who have a real voice in decisions. This boosts their
motivation to implement ideas discussed as a group. For this reason it
is especially important to listen to the blowhards and the
obstructionists, who otherwise would pursue their own agendas rather
than support a common plan.
Frequent meetings help a business
apply bonuses and yearly evaluations with greater precision.
Evaluations are inherently problematic. The natural human tendency is
to feel slighted or get upset at anything less than a perfect
evaluation. By contrast, meetings reaffirm the value of the individual
to the company. When the time comes for the boss to offer criticism or
dock a bonus, a worker who has been to many meetings is more likely to
take the feedback in a constructive spirit and respond with improvement
rather than resentment.
In other words, meetings are fundamentally a form of "social theater" and should be analyzed as such. Now if only speakers had to pay by the minute…