When you saw that title, you may have wondered, “What cue cards?” Who uses them? The answer? Most of us do! Think of grocery lists, “to do” lists, calendars, lists of medications you take, and notes from classes you take or good books you read.
Cue cards for career situations are not cheating! They are sensible tools to rely on when you need to talk about your work. Many people pride themselves on the ability to speak extemporaneously in almost any situation, including job interviews. They feel that they can carry on an effective conversation with no special preparation. Unfortunately, what that often means is, “I can ramble on for many minutes, frequently straying from the main point of the discussion.” If this description fits, the cue card recommendation is for you. Even if you don’t think it applies to you, it can’t hurt for you to try this.
One of the important lessons you can learn as you progress in your career is that of writing and using notes with key words and phrases to assist your memory. There will be times, of course, when you do not find it appropriate to actually carry and use cue cards. However, you can benefit by practicing with them.
As I researched this topic, I discovered that cue cards and teleprompters have a very secure niche in the entertainment world. They allow actors to maintain a strict schedule even when there is little time to learn lines, and they allow flexibility as actors can stay on track with essential information while choosing to leave out some material if they wish. You can make similar adjustments with your personal cue cards as you engage in various conversations.
If you have ever written out a speech and read it word for word, you know that the effect can be dull and stilted. When you use a basic outline or cue cards, though, you can be much more natural and spontaneous.
Some topic ideas for your cue cards: description of your career strengths and benefits you bring to customers or clients, answers to typical interview questions, key words to prompt stories about your achievements, or a description of your ideal client or work situation.
In the process of writing cue cards, you can learn a lot as you focus on your achievements, expand on them, draw connections, and see the progression of your life and career. The simple act of writing or typing also serves as a stimulus to your thinking. Once you have these notes, they can serve multiple purposes beyond conversation prompts. The content can be used in cover letters, your resume, and biographical introductions for speeches. The notes can even be the beginning of your best-selling book!
Rehearsing for interviews, speeches, and other opportunities is always beneficial. In your role as job candidate, entrepreneur, keynote speaker, or career networker – a script is your friend. And for this life role, you get to write your own script using cue cards. So, go ahead. Consider this an open book test. You have permission to use notes.
“Speak properly, and in as few words as you can, but always plainly; for the end of speech is not ostentation, but to be understood.”
– William Penn