One of my favorite tools is the index card. They are cheap, easy to carry, and serve as a quick and anonymous vehicle to receive all kinds of input.

For example:

  • At the end of every class or workshop, I distribute them to participants and ask them to write 1) a praise (something that went well), 2) a wish (I wish we would have/wouldn’t have/could have) and 3) one thing they learned. It’s a great way to get instantaneous feedback.
  • I distribute them in large meetings and ask people to write questions on them. It’s a quick way to learn what’s on people’s minds when they may be too afraid to speak up.
  • In preparation for an interview, I’ll ask my team to write one question they are going to ask on the index card and have it with them. It saves us from having lulls in front of the candidate.
  • At staff meetings — as a way to get suggestions or feedback about what is/isn’t going well. I shared this recommendation with one of my coaching clients who tried it and found she got nothing back. If it was me, at my next meeting I’d do it again but switch up the question and ask what is preventing people from being comfortable enough to give feedback.
  • During planning sessions or meetings as an anonymous way to collect “one thing” — one thing people like about the idea, one concern, one priority, one word to describe the current situation, one way they contribute to the organization, etc.
  • As an icebreaker where people anonymously write the answer to a prompt (favorite food, best vacation spot, etc.) and then turn them in to a moderator who reads each one aloud while people try to guess who wrote it.

Of course, index cards work well for their more traditional uses of notes in preparation for a speech or making lists, but expand your use of the trusty tool. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at how the forced brevity helps people prioritize their thoughts and how valuable instantaneous, anonymous feedback can be.

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