I had just come out from a long hours meeting which are supposed to last less than an hour. Frankly, I found meetings to be counter productive, cause you spend hours throwing ideas at each other with mediocre decision made. After the 1st hour, my brain just isn't working anymore and I hardly hear anything. After 2 hours, my brain totally shutdown due to exhaustion. You know what's worse? The meeting is to be continued because our rate of decision making is too slow.
The main purpose of meeting is to make decisions. One of the problems of meeting is democracy and empowerment. You want to make everyone happy and listen to everyone, thus you ask everyone to throw you lots of idea which ended up with more communication problem. You are afraid to make decision that would upset someone, thus you need everyone consensus to avoid being back-stabbed or hold accountable (if is near impossible to get everyone to agree on the something totally; you could only drag the meeting until every agree, else no one gonna leave this room).
Personally, I think we should follow the style of Brian Valentine of Microsoft in 2000. He established steadfast goals and priorities, and made a motto out of the phrase, "Decisions in 10 minutes or less, or the next one is free." Practically, we should get feedback from people individually (not during some meeting where to round up everyone; too many inputs at one time is bad for health) and empowered to make quick decision based on earlier feedback. This way, decision is made quickly and effectively without wasting countless hours in a crammed room. If someone object to the decision, ask them to voice out their reasons and to provide a proposed solutions as well (we don't want people who just know how to complain but don't know what need to be done). All the decisions and objections should be documented using Forum, Wiki or Blog (depending which flavors suits your working culture) for reference purpose.
So, don't waste valuable production hours trying to group people together and get them talking. Walk around the office, talk to some people and start making decisions. Ops! 10 minutes up, the next pizza is free :)