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Scroll down for... How-To Guide, cards in action, design elements, & research studies
a deck of versatile, right+left-brained cards
that spark conversation, creativity, and insight.
We had these problems and curiosities:
- What if interesting conversations were more effortless?
- What if we never repeated ourselves when meeting someone, unless we wanted to?
- What if we heard more imaginative, useful, or surprising answers to “what are you working on?” or "how was your day?"
- How might we get people into a relaxed, playful, innovative, and expressive mood?
- How might we warm-up our creativity, alone or in a group?
Over the past 2 years, we’ve been testing and iterating on these cards.
Speakeasy works well in a range of contexts:
At first, we were worried that the cards may feel unusual or intimidating.
But, with a simple invitation, people used the cards naturally and effectively!
Speakeasy is recommended for use by:
- event organisers, workshop facilitators, educators
- team leads, creative problem-solvers
- coaches, consultants
- dinner hosts
- individuals getting to know others better (partners, friends, family)
See below for examples & How-To Guides to each use case!
Speakeasy evolved as we found...
how to make it easier for people to connect,
how to facilitate partners and peers to comfortably dive deeper,
& how to better start events with a creative, open culture.
Cards! What are they good for?
- creativity warm-ups (after email-and-execution mode)
- sparks for interesting discussions & intimate conversations
- inviting bonding, relaxation, playfulness
- perspective-shifting a problem or experience
- establishing new, useful norms for a group’s interaction
After iterations and requests, we’re ready and excited to share this with you!
Thank you for your support, Kickstarter backers!
Here are a few examples of self-intros and topics discussed at a variety of events:
- A hands-on workshop for companies and community on design thinking
- The 1st meeting of a multi-disciplinary corporate innovation team
- A dinner with friends for taboo and crucial topics, such as sex
What people shared ranged from work perspectives to fears, from what they consider invaluable to their tiniest joys.
We’ve introduced the cards in a variety of simple ways, depending on the size of the group, type of happening, the context, and our goals.
What’s worked well for us is in this facilitator guide preview!
It includes what we (or our peers) said, did, & why. Downloadable PDF here.
Feel free to ignore this guide completely, adapt what you like, or test out what’s worked for us!
Kickstarter backers will receive the full, printable guide!
We created printable PDFs with 72 “for all occasions” question cards, and 24 “sex-y” sex & relationship ones for our peers to use. Take a look!
The cards are designed to be easy to use and reuse,
with images to invite right-brained intuition or imagination,
words of different categories that spark thought in contrasting ways,
...and questions that engage left-brained reflection or deeper analysis.
- Warm-colored cards require deeper reflection than cool-colored ones.
- Primary colors (red and blue) are more introspective, while
- Non-primary colors (orange and green) are about other people, things, and the world at large.
A note on “Right+Left Brain:”
This refers to the popular idea that the right side is for creativity and intuition, while the left side is for logic and analysis. While the brain is not so cleanly split, I like this idea as a way of noticing different kinds of thinking.
thought-provoking questions & creativity-stimulating visuals
combine to invite a full range of possibility!
We’ve tested these cards at dozens of events, but what does the science say?
Here are research studies in our supporting topics (research with excerpts here):
Images are already used in creativity training, business coaching, and design research.
They open up new thinking through metaphors, and trigger ideas that have been hard to conceptualise so far. (Zaltman, 2001)
Research shows creative thinking in all fields occurs pre-verbally, before logic or linguistics. (Root-Bernstein, Bernstein, & Garnier, 1995)
Scientific problem-solving is facilitated by visual thinking. (Mathewson, 1999).
But, after a productive day at the office, in left-brained email-and-execution mode, people don’t enter workshops or meetings geared up for innovation.
By engaging in a quick right-brain warm-up, we come back to feeling confident in our creativity.
And while icebreakers might be cheesy, research shows they work -- they encourage rapport, bring in humor, foster comfort, heightening whatever interactions that follow. (Chlup & Collins, 2010)
Because without cards, anyone can say anything to spark interesting conversation. But having choice actually makes it difficult -- where should you start?
And as someone who’s introverted and socially anxious, I’m more comfortable with curious, close conversations, and don’t feel connected when making small talk. Research shows this tends to be the case.
People, regardless of social anxiousness, report a similar level level of positive feeling in intimate conversations, while those who are anxious feel more negative in small-talk conditions. (Kashdan & Roberts, 2006)
So, How do we get from everyday conversations to a deep or interesting one?
Frequently by accident, when something unexpected happens, with tipsiness or overflowing excitement.
We’re often waiting for some invisible signal to tell us to move forward. What if we gave that permission directly?
When experimenters tell strangers to ask each other a list of increasingly intimate questions, they share real stories, and feel incredibly close to each other by the end. (Aron, 1997)
(Research with excerpts here.)
How might we make interesting conversations more effortless?
Let’s do it together.
- My husband, Alex...for making me laugh on tough days
- Ri, Jin, Dream, Nicki C, Claire S, Jammie, Yuan Ting, Kai Xin, Aishy, Carrie C, Mark S, Kazuya, Kaitlin W, Rachel L, Edric, Victoria M, Zhenchao, Anuar... for their feedback on this Kickstarter!
- Natalia, Igor, Anne-Laure, Salim, Muriel, Ash, Gia, Ethan, Aishy, Nysse, Leo Club... for allowing me to film their conversations
- GIF Brewery 3 for such an intuitive little tool!
- LEGO for their versatile blocks. (This project is not affiliated or endorsed by LEGO.)
- Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com) for the song, "Bass Walker," CC3
- Dan-O (danosongs.com) for easy-to-license music
- Pexels, Unsplash, and contributing photographers for "free for all uses" photos under CC0
- Creative Commons for all the sharing of resources, content, tools, etc that they make possible!
- thevirts, for their card trick tutorials on Youtube!
- Participants at Cut The Small Talk, F*Up Nights, The Orange Hive, Sex Geekdom, The Hub, and various other design thinking, creativity, team building, university workshops for testing these cards.
"You get a card. And you get a card! And, YOU get a card!"
Risks and challenges
FINAL PROOF: The box material, box design, and final selection of cards and images (I have 2x many as I can print) are not yet set. With feedback, I'll be making final edits, which will take some time.
PRINTING: When testing printing and shipping, I've found that the estimates of 2-6 days for printing and 3-4 days for shipping can often be doubled.
SHIPPING: The fulfilment center aims to send out all packages the day after receiving them, which sounds incredible, but I want to allow for delays there as well.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (31 days)