Going on a workshop or training programme can be daunting. You don’t know exactly what you’ll be doing, who else will be there (will you know anyone?), you’ll probably have to network and there are no assurances that there will be good coffee and delicious food at the end of it. Paul Gentle, Academic Director at Invisible Grail, reflects on what you can expect if you are considering a workshop with Invisible Grail
So you’ve signed up to a full-day session on Writing for Impact, and you’ve arrived early at the venue. You’re a little uncertain about who else will be there.
You know it’s designed for people working in a university, like you. But what if they’re all from another kind of university? What if they’re alchemists of the written word, nothing like as uncertain and tentative with their writing as you are?
You know the day’s going to be punctuated by lots of worthy ‘How to’ advice, most likely mediated through PowerPoint slides with too many bullet points. You’re prepared to sit there and go with the flow. You’ll take extensive notes. You always do. There may be a couple of tips that’ll be worth looking back on.
Hang on though: a few sips of coffee later, here you are, sitting among smiling faces and feeling surprisingly warm about the people around you. Your facilitators have made it clear just how much writing you’re going to be doing today. They’ve emphasised learning through experience, and the morning has flown by.
All of us here started out with similar doubts about our ability to engage people with their writing. We all have different challenges, and such a rich variety of settings for them, but there’s something we all have in common: we want our writing to appeal to our audiences’ hearts as well as their minds. We’ve spent our time working on how to bring our authentic selves, our humanity, into the lines we craft.
By the end of our day in this creative space, we’ve all committed in our own way to reveal more of our original voice in how we choose our words. We feel better about pulling away from the impersonal, corporate tone which we just knew wasn’t us. We can see what we could do to make more visible what we’ve kept hidden in our writing at work.
We’ve worked on so many writing exercises and techniques, and it’s been fascinating to see how each of these appealed differently to us. I’m taking some of them back to use when I meet up with university colleagues. I’m also proud to say I’ve polished nearly 300 words of a piece of writing I’m going to use this week.
And not a single bullet point all day!
Dr Paul Gentle is Academic Director of Invisible Grail. He brings with him over 30 years experience of working in higher education as Head of Department and Dean, before moving into leadership development. Following his interest in the written word, Invisible Grail was founded with a team of communication and brand experts, with the mission to inspire greater communication, passion for narrative and more impactful writing for everyone who works in higher education.
Invisible Grail runs two Writing for Impact workshops, one designed for the research community and the second for people involved in teaching and learning, and the student experience. These workshops can also be adapted to an institution’s needs and run in-house.
Our final Writing for Impact workshop in 2017-18 will take place on Wednesday 9 May in Newcastle. Find out more here: Writing for Impact.