This matters because meetings are so important a part of life that behavior at them is career-determining. This especially applies to the art of listening and the speed of comprehension.
Read the papers relating to the meeting beforehand. Be prepared. This means you don’t play catch up during a meeting and can spend 100% of the time actively listening.
Simplifying the message makes it easier to follow a meeting
Write yourself a page of main points from the papers so you can focus on the key issues and listen harder.
Be in a good mood because you’ll listen better
Geniality can really help you pay attention, however serious the subject. Bad-tempered meetings seldom establish anything other than raising stress levels. And people don’t hear each other half as well when under stress.
Avoid point scoring because you’ll be thinking about what comes next
Do not be a smart aleck. It’s so easy to become one by irritatingly correcting the errors of others. Point scorers don’t listen except for opening and errors. Points scorers make everyone else’s hearing deteriorate.
Don’t be rude because it distracts people
Do not whisper to your neighbor. It is bad manners, irritating, and makes people listen to you and not what’s really going on in the meeting.
Don’t be a geek because it confuses people
And when people are confused they start rifling through the filling cabinets in their brain for information and stop listening. Keep whatever you have to say very simple and to the point. Think of the listeners and don’t show off.
Listen, watch, and work out what is going on
Watch what is going on and try to understand the interplay between different people in the meeting. Meetings contain layers of political intrigue. Who distrusts whom? Who is trying to impress whom? Who is a conservative and who is a risk-taker? Who’s at risk? Who on the way up? What is being said? What isn’t being said? What is actually meant?