Flipcharts the fairest of all

Suggestions to help you add a visual element to your trainings.
Published: Tuesday, September 27, 2011

We live in a world where multimedia is increasing in significance and influence. Movies, charts, graphs, and other visual arts are playing a powerful role in our communication. As a result, more and more trainers are looking for ways to create high-tech presentations such as those with music, animation and YouTube videos.

But hold on! Don’t forget about the workhorse of most trainings—the flipchart. Presentations enhanced with effective visual support are generally better than those without visual enhancers. But when you compare and contrast the cost of going high-tech—throw in the economy with belts tightening and funding eroding—the flipchart emerges as an effective, inexpensive presentation media.

Don’t assume that investing tons of money in high-tech visuals will “make” your presentation, or even more effectively wrangle your audience’s attention.

Remember, the best visuals are the most simple. Economically, the flipchart may prove to be a highly effective visual presentation media—the fairest of all.

Advantages of flipcharts

There are several advantages to using a flipchart to enhance your training. Here are a few:

  • Flipcharts allow you to quickly present your ideas or capture the ideas of others. A key advantage of flipcharts is their use as a tool in trainings to capture and post on-the-spot lists such as attendees' expectations or feedback from brainstorming activities. They're ideal for any activity where fluid interaction with the audience is crucial.
  • Flipcharts do not require electricity. This is a powerful advantage. You don’t need to worry if an electrical outlet is working, if the Internet is up, or if you remembered to pack a power cord for your training. Even in a power outage, your flipchart will still work.
  • Flipcharts don’t require any special technical skills. Flipcharts are inexpensive, easy to make in advance and easy to revise. Even though the flipchart is low tech, it is a reliable tool that doesn’t require any special technical skills to master effective use.

Flipchart set-up techniques, tips and tricks

The most important point to remember in preparing your flipcharts is to give yourself enough time. Start your preparation early. When your flipcharts are prepared, you will feel more organized and ready to conduct your training right from the start. Here are few techniques, tips, and tricks for preparing a flipchart:

  • Use a pencil. Lightly write your text or create your design in pencil first before using markers. This will not only guide your writing but will allow you to make adjustments or changes.
  • Use dark colors. Light colors like yellow, pink, or orange are difficult for your training participants to see. Use a variety of dark colors like black, brown or dark green. The contrast between dark ink and light paper will make your writing easier to read. Use the color red only to add emphasis or to give forcefulness to a point you need to stress.
  • Write on every other page. Writing on every other page will prevent the written material from other sheets from peeking through, so participants will not be able to see the next page. This will also allow for a page to absorb any ink that may bleed through from your markers.
  • Keep it large and legible. Print in large letters so participants can easily see your words. Your printed letters should be 1 to 3 inches high. Strive to use a good mix of capital and lowercase letters.
  • Bend the corners. If you are writing on every other page, place the two pages together and bend the corners or place a post-it flag on the corner of the page closet to where you will stand so you can turn the page to your next visual with ease.
  • Prewrite your notes. Prewrite your notes or clues on the flipchart in pencil so you can refer to them as you present. Your participants will not be able to see your writing, but you will.

There are some disadvantages to using flipcharts, such as visibility. Flipcharts work best you are training a small group of 25 or less. In addition, some trainers view flipcharts as being wholly unprofessional as a presentation tool because they are usually handwritten.

You have a number of choices available with regards to the type of media you use for your training—everything from computer projection systems such PowerPoint, Keynote, SMART Board, or videos and DVDs. But, keep in mind the media you choose should not only complement your training style but, more importantly, it must support your learning objectives and the curriculum for your training session. The purpose of the presentation is to make it easier for learners to acquire the knowledge and skills intended by the training. No matter what media you choose, remember there are enormous benefits to adding visuals to your presentations, as studies indicate 70% of adults are visual learners. Adding visual support to your message will help learners grasp the information you are presenting, understand it, retain it, and use it to change behavior.

One last tip: Remember to have fun. Participants often walk into a training session expecting to be bored to death. Have fun with your material, your presentation and with the audience, and you’ll likely find that the participants want to have a good time too.

Books to explore

Resource for article:

  1. Training for Dummies, by Elaine Biech

Books on using flipcharts or Post-its:

  1. The Big Book On Flip Charts, by Robert William Lucas
  2. The Small Book of Big Presentation Skills, by Rajeev K. Bali and Ashish Dwivedi
  3. Presentation Zen, by Garr Reynolds



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