We’ve all been to meetings that were less than optimal in the productivity department. You know how they go – idle chit chat, boring presentations, brainstorming sessions that generate tons of ideas, and no new activity. You’re not alone. In fact, according to this infographic by Fuze.com, unproductive meetings waste over $37 billion annually.

A big part of that is the waste of time. There are 25 million meetings a day in the United States; 15 percent of the average organization’s collective time is spent in meetings. Middle managers spend 35 percent of their time in meetings; upper management spends fully half of their working hours in meetings. Yet executives consider more than 67 percent of meetings to be failures and wastes of time.

The reasons for the waste are simple but painful. “Multitasking” is a big drain. Asked about it in a survey, 92 percent of respondents admitted they were multitasking through meetings, 41 percent of which confessed that they multitasked “often” or “all the time.” Sixty-nine percent of respondents admitted to checking email during meetings, 49 percent said they were doing different work entirely.

The rise of telecommuting has also impacted meetings. Eighty percent of human communication comes through body language, which is largely lost to telecommuters, making it hard for them to feel engaged.

Finally, the biggest problem – lack of planning. Many meetings are simply poorly run and completely unplanned. If you’re planning a meeting, you should consider scheduling a shorter meeting and setting out clear expectations for what you aim to achieve in advance. You should give people any materials they’ll need in advance. Watch the clock and start and end on time, and keep people on track – avoid long monologues and pointless tangents. Perhaps most important, take notes and capture the key points and the calls for action that result.

But before you even get that far, ask yourself: do you even need a meeting? Does everyone need to be there? Do you have what you need ready for the meeting?