6 Fabulous Ways to Use Cards in Groups & Workshops (with Questions) | by Jennifer Britton

Visual cards are a valuable addition for any workshop or coaching toolkit. They are a "go-to resource" for boosting engagement and conversations at workshops, retreats, team meeting or coaching conversations.

While many facilitators and coaches purchase visual cards, they're not always sure how to use them. The key to using visual cards is that you allow for enough time for exploration, reflection and dialogue. The ways to use cards are endless, from supporting group members to explore vision, or values, or opportunities. This article explores six different ways to use them. As you read, consider how you might incorporate these in your next programming.

Here are 6 Ways to Use Visual Cards and Make Great Conversation Sparkers!

1. Select a Card

  1. Use the individual choosing of a card to develop and explore a theme in your group or workshop. The variations and possibilities are endless!
  2. Using the theme you're working around, have each person choose a card. Depending on your deck, you may want to include cards with photos and/or cards with questions.
    For example:
  • You're working with a team at the start of a program. Ask people to "Select the card which represents what you're bringing to the group".
  • You're running a session on innovation, ask the group members to "Select the card which represents what innovation looks like for you".
  1. Lay the cards on a large table or in an area where all the cards can be seen by participants.
    Tip: Consider using a freestanding table so people can move around and see the photos from different perspectives.
  2. Give each person a short amount of time to select a card of their choice. A couple of minutes is usually enough. Encourage people to go with their gut in selecting one. Once they have chosen one, have them return to their seat and spend a few minutes reflecting and taking note of these questions:
  • What's significant about this card?
  • What's in focus?
  • What's dominant?
  • What's in the background?
  • What's missing?
  1. As a next step, have each person introduce themselves to the group, or a partner, showing their card and sharing some of their reflections.

Tip: If you're thinking about bringing cards into a virtual event, be sure that you have copyright access or license to use the cards with virtual groups. If you have the ability to share your screen, you may want to make a selection of the photos available eg. a Powerpoint slide. Alternatively, place a selection of photos (6-9 or more) on a .pdf which you can send out and share.

2. Develop Vision

Working with vision is another popular way to integrate cards into a workshop - whether it's at the individual or collective level.

For individuals - Have individuals select a photo which represents their vision (for their work, leadership, business, career etc). Provide group members with time (from a few minutes to ten minutes) during the session to make notes on the cards (using the questions posed in #1 above). You could also leave time during the session for group members to have dialogue around the card they chose with a partner, breathing more life and detail into that vision as they discuss it. Finally, you could also have them journal their ideas before your next conversation point.

For a team - Have a team create their vision using a selection of different photos. When working with teams you may choose to have them select cards collectively, or individually. Some questions you might ask to prompt ideas are:

  • What are significant milestones for the team?
  • What are you known for?
  • What are your successes?
  • What is the quality of your relationships
  • What results do you achieve?

Tip: Team members can also create their own drawings of their vision using blank index cards.

3. Create a Team Storyboard

Stories are powerful motivators, and also capture where we have been.

One of my favorite activities with teams is to have them use cards to capture their story. For example you could ask participants and ask them to:

  • Choose a card to explore and provide a focus for what's occurred already
  • Choose a card to explore what they want in their future story
  • Select different photos to represent key milestones along their journey

This is a powerful activity for helping teams connect with each other, identify strengths, as well as acknowledge what they've achieved.

Tip: If you're working with a team in creating their future story consider how they can take a copy of the photos they've chosen back to the workplace  as a visual reminder.

4. Explore Values

Values are also another rich area for conversation and exploration. Ideas for using cards to explore values include:

  • Have group members select the cards which represent the values they embrace as a professional.
  • Have each person select a card randomly and then working with a partner identify the values which are embodied in that photo.

5. "What's Possible?"

This is another of my favorite activities! It goes like this: If you could make a change right now and follow your dream, what would be possible?

  1. Ask participants to choose the card which represents what's possible!
  2. Each group member selects their own photo and then shares their story.
  3. As with other activities, provide time to reflect, write and then share.
  4. Wrap-up by asking, "What would it take to make this possibility happen?"

6. Celebratory Closure

The old adage says: "All good things must come to an end". As part of your closure activities, get people to select the card which represents what they are leaving the program with, or what their learning has been. The selected photo can be a visual metaphor that they leave with. Alternatively, you can have them select a Question card which they want to carry forward as an inquiry.


Visual cards are a quick and fun way to add an extra layer to your team, group and workshop programming.

So thinking about these 6 ideas, how can you incorporate visual cards into your upcoming work?


Team Leaders, facilitators, trainers and coaches will want to explore some of these different deck options:

There are dozens of ways to work with visual cards. Jennifer gets so many questions about how to use cards that she developed the 40 Ways to Work with Visual Cards e-book. The 40 Ways resource provides facilitators with one and two page facilitated instructions on forty different ways to work with visual cards, along with five worksheets you can bring into your workshop or training event. The 40 Ways e-book ideal for someone who already has a number of visual cards to work with. Purchase a downloadable copy here >>

For those interested in creating more engaging virtual programming, check out Jennifer's newest book, Effective Virtual Conversations. You can pick up a copy at her new site www.effectivevirtualconversations.com or on Amazon.

If you liked this article on how to use cards in workshops and group coaching, you may also like:

Jennifer Britton

Contributing Author:

Jennifer Britton, MES, CHRP, CPT, PCC, is the author of seven books and has influenced a generation of coaches in the realms of team and group coaching. You may have read her writing, including Effective Group Coaching (Wiley, 2010), the first book in the world to be published on the topic of group coaching; From One to Many: Best Practices for Team and Group Coaching; or her latest, Reconnecting Workspaces: Pathways to Thrive in the Virtual, Remote and Hybrid World (2021).

Since 2006, Jennifer's Group Coaching Essentials and Advanced Group and Team Coaching Practicum programs have become known as the must-do training in the area of group coaching. Focused on providing coaches with best practices in designing, marketing and implementing group coaching, these programs have helped thousands of coaches launch their own group and team coaching programs in a wide variety of settings (public, corporate, non-profit). Together both courses are approved for 18.75 ICF CCEUs. These are the first two of 10 course pathways leading to certificates in Group and Team Coaching.

Potentials Realized's ICF-CCE programs are geared for aspiring group and team coaches, especially those wanting to work toward the New Advanced Credential in Team Coaching (ACTC) with the ICF.

Also check out our neuroscience course for group and team coaches (NLE-A), Team Coaching Essentials  and ACTIVATE Your Team and Group Coaching Superpowers. Prefer podcasts? Listen in to the Remote Pathways podcast, which explores the many different pathways to remote work, business and leadership.

Learn more about Jennifer & see all their articles here >>

Image of Hand holding panther card by rawpixel via Pixabay

Image of Tarot Cards by Yury Dmitrienko via Shutterstock

Image of Woman in front of whiteboard talking to group by Rawpixel.com via Shutterstock


  1. Abena

    Thanks for the ideas as always. I'm using cards more and more in my group program and really enjoying the creativity they unlock.


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