There are many Meeting 101 web sites which are all very useful and constructive, however most of these describe the mechanics. Here are a few ways to be more present in meetings.
1) If you don’t need to be present mentally, you don’t need to be present physically, so find yourself something better to do with your time.
2) When getting ready for a big meeting or to shift context and dive into a meaty problem, walk around, stretch (think arms out wide while walking around), and become “bigger”. Visualize when Neo becomes The One in the Matrix. You flush out everything (including anxiety) and clear your mind, your confidence rises and now you’re ready to metaphorically go into battle.
3) Be big. You don’t have to weigh 300 pounds but it is about having a presence. If there are spare chairs, drape your arm over the one next to you. This opens you up – you are welcoming people into the meeting in a relaxed manner, but at the same time a more commanding presence. If it is a formal meeting you’ll be getting up to welcome and shake hands.
4) Pick where you are going to sit, make a habit of it. What does this do? It aids in relaxing you and you know where others may sit around you.
5) Toss the phone and the laptop. What does that do in addition to ensuring you are more attentive? It keeps you big. If you’re on your phone or laptop, it is not only rude, but you shrink down, your arms and shoulders are brought in and you start to hunch over. Learn to take notes with one hand and keep your head up.
Until now I didn’t realize that there were physiological things behind this. Amy Cuddy’s TED talk Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are does a great job at describing the why behind this phenomenon.