Posted 4/12/11
Business cards are a “wondrous and intricate medium for design and culture. And in this era of Internet …, they are highly underrated. Is print dead? Hardly. These days business cards are more innovative and beautiful than ever.” These are the words of Prescott Perex-Fox, the man behind the Your Business Card Sucks blog. In this lesson plan, students take a critical look at design, both good and bad.
  • Language level: Upper-intermediate; Advanced (B2; C1)
  • Learner type: Teens; Adults; Business
  • Time: 45 minutes
  • Activity: Speaking
  • Topic: Business cards
  • Language: Language of design
  • Materials: Video; Slideshow
Business cards - Lesson plan pdf [downloaded 5753 times] Business cards - Slideshow pdf [downloaded 3471 times]

Lesson plan outline

  1. Use the example teacher script and questions below to conduct a whole-class discussion about the business card scene from the film American Psycho.
  2. I want to describe a scene from a film. Listen and see if you can identify the film. In the scene, there are five men sitting around a table. Each man has something which is very important to him. The men start comparing these things.

    What are these things that the men are comparing? Can you guess?

    [Possible answers include: mobile phones, pictures of their family, pictures of their cars, etc. Note that you may want to tell students that although the answer is nothing rude, the scene in the film does have phallic undertones.]

    While they compare these things, they refer to:

    • Type
    • Colouring
    • Thickness

    [Write these words and all other bullet points on the board.]

    Any more ideas?

    Here are some of the adjectives they use to talk about these things:

    • Impressive
    • Tasteful
    • Subtle
    • Really nice
    • Off white (= almost, but not quite white)

    Here are some of the things they say / features that they discuss:

    • (It’s got) raised lettering.
    • It even has a watermark.
    • I picked them up from the printers yesterday.

    What do you think that these these men are comparing?

  3. After exploring all possibilities, show students the video clips as well as the following kinetic typography version:

  4. If you are teaching professionals, ask them to take out their business cards. Ask each person to give a brief history of their card. For example, ask them to discuss the questions below:
    • How long have you had your business card?
    • How often do you give it out?
    • When did you last give it out? Who did you give it to and where were you?
    • How does it compare with previous ones who have had?
    • From a design point of view, what do you like / dislike about it?

    (Note that this might work best if students are put into pairs / groups.)

  5. Brainstorm ideas for what makes a good business card. Write ideas on the board under the following headings: Layout; Lettering; Information; Size & shape; Card & printing (example answers are given in the PDF download).
  6. Show students a selection of images of business cards taken from the website Your Business Card Sucks These are contained in the downloadable PDF slideshow. Tell students where the images came from and ask them what they think about each card (focus on good as well as bad).
  7. Give out copies of the Business Card Worksheet (included in the PDF download) which asks students to match comments taken from the website with the images of business cards.
  8. If applicable, ask students to have a second look at their own business cards. Can they re-evaluate aspects of design following this activity.


Thank you very much to Prescott Perez-Fox at Your Business Card Sucks for giving me permission to use adapted comments from his site. Prescott says that these days he is much less angry about bad business cards.

Follow up

Ask students what they think of this man, the notorious ‘Best business card in the world’ guy. Wouldn’t you like him to be your life coach?

Posted 4/12/11

6 Responses to Business cards

  1. Gavin King says:

    The link in the lesson plan to the slideshow is broken Jamie, this looks good though!!

    Will try it later!

  2. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Gavin. Think there was an initial problem with the slideshow link and image quality. It’s sorted now.
    Jamie :)

  3. Hi Jamie,
    What a great lesson, I really enjoyed the videos and the activities, all very engaging. That guy is really scary!
    All the best,

  4. Jamie Keddie says:

    Thanks Kieran
    Yes – a scary man indeed. Is he trying to help or belittle his subjects? Wonder if he’d make a good English teacher?
    Jamie :)

  5. Adam Beale says:

    Hi, Jamie

    I’m going to try this lesson today. Thinking of working this article into the lesson, too. What do you think?

  6. Jamie Keddie says:

    Hello Adam
    Excellent idea. Actually, I saw this story in the Guardian yesterday but it never occurred to me to tie it in with this. Nice thinking!
    Thanks for sharing
    Jamie :)