Response Cards

(First published, November 2001)

Many trainers use this standard method: They ask a question and jot down key points from participants' responses on a flip chart. Then they make comments, correct misconceptions, and present additional information. This approach is definitely more interesting and effective than a straight lecture. But it does not encourage all participants to participate.

Here's a quick alternative:

  1. Ask an open-ended question and instruct each participant to write a brief response on an index card. Impose a suitable time limit.
  2. Organize participants into teams of approximately equal numbers. Collect the responses from each team and give them to another team.
  3. Ask team members to read the responses and select two of them: the “best” one and the one that is the most “different” from the others.
  4. After a suitable pause, ask each team to read the two selected responses. Comment on each response.