The latest insights on narrative, storytelling and leadership in higher education.

Author: John Simmons

John is a Director and Programme Facilitator at Invisible Grail. Through his books and consultancy, John is widely considered the leading exponent of more expressive words as an essential element of communication for brands and organisations.

Chapter fourteen: N-o

We do language. That is how civilisations heal.”Toni Morrison Nothing will come of nothing, as we know from King Lear. By this Lear meant that his daughter Cordelia would get no part of the inheritance if she refused to say…read more

Chapter thirteen: M-n

a brand, like an individual, has parentage, it lives in the context of ethical, educational, social influences." Messages are communicated through the words that we write. That message can be a simple instruction or a complex argument or, increasingly it…read more

Chapter twelve: L-m

Let's linger a while with the beguiling sounds of words." Let’s linger a while with the beguiling sounds of words. Words are vessels containing meaning – ping the outside of the vessel and it suggests what might be inside. The…read more

Chapter eleven: K-l

Our imaginations are like sponges waiting for a little moisture to soften them into active use. Memory provides the moisture." Kilimanjaro, Kyoto, K-2, K-9. Words that release different memories, mainly from childhood. Words that I had not been conscious of…read more

Chapter ten: J-k

Just as English advances, other languages fight back. But the ground the other languages are fighting back on is increasingly English-held territory. When I wrote those words twenty years ago I was making a point about English as the global…read more

Chapter nine: I-j

Our words send signals" I always prefer the first-person pronouns ‘I’ and ‘we’ to their third-person alternatives in the world of work. The alternatives might be ‘the corporation’, ‘the company’, ‘the university’, ‘the organisation’, ‘the department’ and so on. The…read more

Chapter eight: H-i

If you want to be more effective in the way you communicate with people, you need to tune in to their imaginations." How do you make a thought more vivid? Metaphors are certainly one way to do it. Look up…read more

Chapter seven: G-h

‘Just give me the headlines’. Gotcha! is the headline many British people think of when headlines are mentioned. It appeared on the front page of the Sun during the Falklands War when the British navy sank the Argentinean ship, the…read more

Chapter six: F-g

‘F*** business.’ At least Boris Johnson was clear when he uttered those words last year. More recently he’s been pilloried for his lack of clarity, particularly by Matt Lucas’s version of the PM’s speech that, appropriately, ‘went viral’ a few…read more

Chapter five: E-f

Eggs over easy. Remembering business trips to the US and staying in hotels where they offered that almost endless list of American ways of having eggs for breakfast.  This then extended beyond the egg to varieties of pancake, waffle or…read more

Chapter four: D-e

Poetry is a valuable source of emotional support in difficult times." Do this, don’t do that. Deadlines demand timely headlines. Alliteration and rhyme, the techniques of poetry, do we use them or abuse them? There has been much more awareness…read more

Chapter three: C-d

Being unconstrained is in a strange way a different form of constraint..." Coronavirus is right there at the forefront of our thinking, threatening to dominate everything we do. But can you force yourself to think new thoughts and write new…read more