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Writing a short, funny film to reach employees

A drinks company wanted its people to know the firm’s position on the difficult questions about alcohol. They had lots of policy documents, but they wanted something that employees would actually absorb.

I suggested a short film in which the hapless hero, a junior manager for the company, comes late to a big family gathering – and has to deal with all the difficult questions one by one. Each family member represented a different issue – from health to drink-driving – and could be used on posters to reinforce the messages. By hearing an ordinary person explain things in a real situation, employees are more likely to remember the points – especially since they all come up in funny family conversations.

The film wasn’t made in the end, because of department and budget changes, but my clients loved the scripts and other material I produced.

Designing a giant outdoor boardgame

One of my favourite projects was to come up with a board game that the Department for International Development could use at festivals. They wanted it to work for kids of all ages, to be simple, to be educational and to be engaging and fun. The result was the Race Against Poverty, in which up to eight kids competed to win a voucher for their favourite charity. If they answered a multiple-choice question correctly, they spun a wheel to see how many spaces their piece moved around the track – but some of the squares were booby-trapped.

I came up with the rules and wrote the questions and the instructions for the volunteers running it. It went down very well.

Here’s a sample question:

Read the whole thing

Coaching an economist to write better reports

I worked with an economist who has to write reports on long-term economic forecasting using computer modelling. These two subjects – economics and computing – are not easy to make simple and readable, but the economist’s corporate clients needed him to do just that. Luckily this economist, whose first language was not English, quickly made big improvements.