My friends and I resumed our "Curse Of Strahd" Dungeons And Dragons campaign this past month. In our hiatus, I've been watching a number of roleplaying-related and game-master-related YouTube videos, all in an attempt to run a better, more engaging game. One of the videos I really liked was a short one from Seth Skorkowsky.
I tried this technique this past weekend and it worked wonderfully. I used poker chips because thats what we had handy. I informed my players that I'd like to use inspiration and that I'd be handing these poker chips as physical tokens representing it. I also warned them that they could not "hoard" inspiration nor "caring it over"; they could only have one at a time, and at the end of the game I would be wiping the slate clean. I wanted them to be aware they had it and spur them to use it.
Having that pile of physical tokens right at my hand as my players gamed was a constant reminder to watch for opportunities to hand them out. As far as I could tell, my players weren't doing or playing any differently, but I was paying more attention to them now, and I was rewarding them more often. When they roleplayed well, I chucked a token over. When they did something particularly clever, I chucked a token over. When they played up their flaws, I chucked a token over.
And having those physical chips in front of them also encouraged the players to use them. If inspiration was just another pencil mark in a character sheet full of written and erased and re-written pencil marks, its easy to forget you have it. But when its in your hands or amongst your dice, it suddenly starting flying across the table when the roll was important.
The worked great this past weekend, and I play to keep using inspiration tokens this way. In fact, I might even order some of the D20 Campaign Coins Seth demonstrated in the video!