Ask most people for their top business time-wasters and you will get (1) e-mail (2) meetings. Of course the full answers should include 'mis-managed e-mail' because e-mail itself is brilliant. And the same with meetings: a great meeting is VERY productive; it's the bad ones which are a nightmare. So, three tips to make the latter more effective:
1. Know everybody's name. Insist on this and write them down. Then you can easily refer to people. And that means you can manage them.
2. Ban laptops, blackberries etc. It's a very rare meeting indeed where such technology is actually really needed in the room.
3. Use a flip-chart or white-board to keep a visible list of agreed outcomes and the meeting on track.