Have you ever tried to run a meeting at work and have had a difficult time holding the attention of your attendees?  It is a common problem that sometimes requires more than just preparations. Lots of classes, both online and offline, promise to make you better at running meetings. You could sign up for any number of those, or you could just learn to play Dungeons & Dragons.

For those not familiar, Dungeons & Dragons (D&D) is a fantasy roleplaying game, that has been having a renaissance lately. In it, a Dungeon Master guides a group of players through an imaginary world.  Gameplay is resolved through rolling dice and playing a role or acting/improvising a character. 

Gaming sessions can go on for hours, so it requires commitment, endurance and planning.  It also requires a Dungeon Master (DM) that knows how to keep the attention of their players.  This is where learning the game can benefit you in a business environment.  Let’s look at meetings as an example.

As a DM, just as in meeting organization, you need to plan your meeting out.  You need to understand where you want the gaming session and the meeting to go, but ultimately it is up to you get the group there.  That doesn’t mean just slavish adherence to your set agenda.  It means using that agenda to frame your world and then improvising based on the action of your players/attendees.

If things are stale or boring in either a game or a meeting, you just don’t let it drag.  In a D&D session you throw in an interesting encounter with some monsters.  If you are in a meeting, you ask a compelling question or introduce new data. 

In both instances you need to consider the makeup of the group.  If your party of adventurers has a warriors and wizards, it would be pretty terrible if they were in an adventure where magic didn’t function. So why would you have a meeting with sales, marketing and tech, where you completely ignore one of those disciplines?

Becoming a DM is a commitment, it can also be uncomfortable.  Consider being the center of attention of a meeting for 4+ hours at a time.  It is terrifying at first, but as you get more comfortable with it, it’s both addicting and fun.  Suddenly those 1 hour meetings where you need to stand up and speak are nothing.  After all, on Sunday you didn’t need to just represent your idea for a new microsite, but you were the local innkeeper, a horde of goblins and a mysterious unicorn.  

The hobbies we have can influence other aspects of our lives. Sports can teach you how to compete and be a member of a team.  Camping can teach you how you can depend upon yourself to get stuff done.  Dungeons & Dragons can teach you how to be adaptable.  

So if you know someone who plays, why not ask to join them, or watch a session on YouTube.  You don’t need to be a DM at first, but observing a good one can teach you a lot about the skills involved.  From ideation to planning through implementation peppered  with improvisation, they bring a battery of skills to every gaming session.

You can choose to learn new skills in lots of different ways.  Play is one of the most enjoyable, and while Dungeons & Dragons might not be appearing on people’s resumes right now, maybe it should.