When thinking about visual aids to assist our presentations we too often forget about the flipchart. I was at a presentation the other day and it was great to see the presenter using a flip chart or butcher’s paper as it can be commonly termed.

The greatest advantage to the flip chart is its simplicity. It is very easy to carry, doesn’t need high tech skills or electricity. It is versatile and inexpensive. With no moving parts it is reliable and of course environmentally friendly.

The flip chart can be used as a visual aid for the presenter or for group work. The presenter can prepare the information on the flip chart ready for use during the presentation or can use it to jot down specific points that need to be highlighted from the presentation. During group work you can give a few sheets to each group to write down the outcomes of the discussions. These can be stuck up around the room for reference during the facilitation. It becomes a very valuable tool during brainstorming, team work and problem solving.

Some tips for getting the most out of the flip chart:

1. Generally better for small groups – becomes more difficult to see if you have a very large group.

2. Print rather than write and make sure the printing is clear and legible. I know when I use flip charts I have to be extra careful as my handwriting can be somewhat scrawled to say the least! If you are like me sometimes getting one of the participants to scribe can be a good idea.

3. Stand sideways when writing to avoid blocking the participants’ view and stop talking when writing. A common pitfall for presenters, and this also applies to whiteboards, is to keep talking when writing. You end up talking to the board and your voice will become muffled and hard to hear.

4. Use dot points – 7 words per line 7 points per page is a good guideline. The important issue is not fill the page with large amounts of writing.

5. Be aware of the colour you use – use high contrast like black, blue, purple. Whilst red can be useful you need to remember that there is a large likelihood of someone in your audience being colour blind – so avoiding red and green is a good idea.

6. Write on every other page to avoid bleeding through especially if the paper is quite thin. Water based pens are the best to use to avoid the bleeding through.

So when preparing your next presentation think about using the flip chart. It has its place and it might be the best visual aid you can use to assist in getting this particular message to the audience.

Trish @ Trischel

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