understatementWho remembers the Ministry of Silly Walks? If you’re not familiar with this Monty Python classic, you must watch!

Ordinarily the ministry of silly walks would be a totally absurd government department (not wanting to open up a can of worms by using government and absurd in the same sentence!). But in this sequence, no matter how much legs jangle, protrude and contort, everyone maintains a straight face and a serious business discussion ensues. It’s a great example of an understated reaction to a silly, silly situation.



The blueprint is fairly simple:

  1. Take a common situation and exaggerate it to a level of absurdity.
  2. Identify what the logical response would be in that situation.
  3. Make the actual reaction as close to the opposite of logical as possible.
  4. Find a way of turning this reaction into a positive solution.

So let’s try it with our Funny Business challenge of ‘making training more memorable’…

Example 1= Imagine people bored and staring out of a window, only to look directly into another boring training session! A possible positive solution is to run training courses in parallel and arrange for people to swap between different sessions during the day to keep energy and enthusiasm up.

Example 2= Adolescent boys not paying any attention whatsoever even though a very sexy, scantily clad woman is taking the class. I guess even the best courses can be made dull if the content isn’t engaging beneath the surface and the speaker doesn’t have the right sort of pizzazz.

Example 3= A fire breaks out during a health and safety training course! And the trainer’s response: “Please all read your health and safety guide chapter 8 then we’ll learn about the correct emergency response for this situation”. The lesson here is not to be overly pedantic. People crave autonomy and freedom of expression, so enable them with skills and the ability and trust them to use with their intuition when the time is right. Otherwise skills will become very impersonal, be forgotten or at best, be approached with mere compliance.

Next up is understatement’s partner in crime… overstatement.

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Simon Jack

Creative Re-Director at Creative Encounters
Jack of all trades... master of a few too!

Creative communicator and consultant who likes to do things differently and empower others to come up with winning ideas and create a major stir.
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