Sunday, February 04, 2007

Group Program Tools - Index Cards

5 Ways to Use Index Cards for Your Group Programs
Copyright 2007 - Jennifer Britton. All Rights Reserved
Photo Compliments of Alicia Solario

I often have coaches and trainers ask me what simple, inexpensive items can be used within programs. One of the cheapest items you may want to add to your toolbox is index cards. Today’s post includes 5 ways you can use index cards (and also index card sized Post-Its) in your own group coaching or training programs.

For Course Design – Index cards are a great tool to use when designing a course. Set aside 10 minutes to brainstorm on an upcoming program you are offering. Using one card per idea, write down everything that comes to mind. You may want to include topic ideas, exercises, venue, pricing etc. After you have exhausted all your ideas, lay them out on the floor or on a large table. What connections do you see there? How can these be grouped?
For a more complete description of this process, email me at jennifer [at] potentialsrealized[dot]com for a free two article entitled “Creative Ways to Develop Workshops or Retreats”.

As an icebreaker – One of my favorite icebreaker activities for corporate and personal sessions is to use a large size index card and have participants fold these over creating a name tent for the session (if we are using tables and chairs as part of the set up). Alternatively you can have them use these as a name tag. I will often ask them to write down their name and also develop their own personal crest or logo. When we go round for introductions, participants introduce themselves by name and logo. This exercise can also be done in pairs for more detailed dialogue. The logo/crest is a great theme to return to throughout the program.

For evaluation – In addition to a formal evaluation at the end of every program I run, I seek feedback from participants throughout the length of program (i.e. at the end of a weekly session). Three questions I tend to usually ask are “ What worked well?”, “What can we do differently next time?”, and “What are you taking away?”.

Index cards (as well as Post-Its) can work great for this exercise as well – distribute three blank index cards to each participant, and have these three questions written up on a piece of flipchart paper. Get participants to write down their answer to each question, and when they are all done (usually 3-5 minutes) have each participant post their cards under the respective question. This can be done individually – so having everyone come up, read their card and post it, or it can be done as a group. This will give you a very quick, and visual, overview of what’s working, what’s landing and what change may be needed. Participants also tend to find this more participatory and interactive.

To mine expectations: If you don’t have the chance to connect with participants prior to the start of the program, distribute index cards to each individual as part of the kick off of the program, and have them write down what they want to take away from the program, any hopes they have for the program and any fears. You can have participants share these as part of their introductions, in small groups, or by posting them individually on a wall.

For deciding where to go – Sometimes programs will have a very loose structure, and often methodology you are basing programs on, encourage participant driven agendas. Again index cards serve a wonderful function for this – distribute 2-3 index cards per person, and have them write down the topics they would like to have covered, or questions answered as a result of their participation. As an exercise, have them post these individually on a blank wall, grouping similar topics. This too is a wonderful visual exercise to undertake with a group, ensuring that all voices are heard and represented.

I’m really just scratching the surface with these ideas. Over the years I have found post-its and index cards to be an invaluable tool in my toolbox. Are there any other ways you have used index cards or post-its? Please feel free to comment below.

Have a creative week,
Jennifer Britton, CPCC, CHRP, CPCC
Group Coaching Essentials and Potentials Realized
Email: jennifer[at]potentialsrealized[dot] com
Toll Free: 1-866-217-1960

The next Group Coaching Essentials program starts on Thurs. February 15th and will be held on Thursdays from 10:30 - 11:45 am (EST) on Feb. 15, 23, March 1 and 8, plus one additional call. This program is designed for coaches who want to create their own group coaching programs. Full of templates, exercises, best practices and resources, this program supports coaches in designing, implementing and marketing their own group coaching program. Space is limited to 8 coaches. Are you ready to launch your own programs? To reserve your spot for our February session, contact me today by email or toll free at 1-866-217-1960. I look forward to hearing from you.

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