I KNOW I listen better at meetings when I have knitting. I avoid bringing something that requires constant chart reading or pattern checking, though, because that will distract me.
If I don't have knitting, the little voice in my head is asking me what I'm going to do after the meeting, where I'm going to stop on the way home, what I'm going to do about dinner, etc. When I am knitting, that part of my brain seems to be kept busy and shuts up.
We have small meetings twice a week at work and I fully participate (sometimes to everyone's surprise because I look like I'm not paying attention).
My husband used to complain about a woman at church meetings who would knit. Even though I explained it to him--from personal experience--he didn't want to hear it. So too bad on him. He's wrong.