First, someone is always late. This prompts a flurry of comments. "He said he would be here." "I'll just text her." "I'll go check his office." Someone sets off to find the missing person, at which point he strolls in, holding the cup of coffee that made him late. "Sorry I'm late," he says (he's not really sorry). "Bob went to find you!" somebody says. "I'll go look for Bob..." somebody volunteers.
Remember when people used to say that computers were going to make us a paperless society? Um, there's more paper than ever, especially at meetings! Copies of the agenda, spreadsheets, memos...they all make the rounds.
Somebody likes to hear him or herself talk. She goes on and on, until you zone out. Then at the worst possible time, she suddenly asks, "What's your opinion on that (insert your name here)?" Uh-oh, what was she talking about?
At some point in the meeting you will end up on a committee, in charge of organizing something, or tasked with some sort of research. You have a choice here. You can accept the inevitable, or you can volunteer your assistant for it. If your assistant isn't there, the choice is easy.
The question will come up: should we power through until 1:00 and be done, or take a lunch break? Usually a lone, hungry dissenter opts for the break, which means that the meeting will go on even longer; hunger will no longer motivate an earlier ending, and people will think of more topics over lunch.
Somebody will have to leave early, claiming to have a conference call or another meeting more important than this one. The rest will watch their retreating form enviously. Maybe they can be volunteered for something.
There will be an elephant in the room. Not a real one, that would be pretty cool. This one is a topic that everyone knows needs to be dealt with but nobody wants to bring up. It's 4:59 and you think you've dodged the bullet, until someone takes a deep breath. "What about..." he begins. OH NO HE DIDN'T, everyone thinks. But yes, he did, and you might as well put your stuff back down, because you're going to be there for awhile.
Finally the meeting is over. But really, is it? "When should we have our next meeting?" the facilitator asks. Everyone pulls out their phones or planners and picks a date. Oh look, good news! It appears you can't go, but your assistant is available!