Train Trainer – The Fantastic Mr Flipchart – 21 Tips

Portable, engaging, spontaneous, easy to use, colourful… the humble flipchart is experiencing a resurgence and who can blame it. The flipchart, if used well, is a first class training tool to captures group’s ideas, can be used to build your own ideas and can be enormously visual with just a little cartoon training.

It’s this building of ideas, pictures, bullets that engages the audience. We just become glued to a moving feast of information; it’s the animation that engrosses us. What it’s not is a medium to pre-prepare a presentation, that’s the domain of PowerPoint or Prezi.

21 tips to use the humble flipchart.

  1. If you want to use the flipchart for capturing words and bullets, follow the 1:3:6 rule. One topic per sheet, 6 lines maximum and 3 words per line. Otherwise your group won’t be able to read it as it’ll be too small.
  2. If you’re using the flipchart in a larger group with theatre style seating, avoid writing in the bottom third of the chart as people won’t be able to see.
  3. Use vivid colours because you can. Black and blue are the most readable, use red to underline or bring attention to key points, pinks, purples all work. However green, yellow, orange just don’t cut it so refrain from even getting them out of the box.
  4. Use chisel point pens as these are far more readable that pointed flipchart pens.
  5. Invest well in pens, check them before you leave and make sure the ones in your pilot case have plenty of ink. Don’t rely on those provided by the venue, they’re often dry.
  6. If you have a complex diagram to show or need prompting, you can draw a feint pencil image or words to remind you. Do this in the top corner and your group won’t notice.
  7. Check the time on your watch from behind the easel so the group don’t see you. And you do remove any clock in the room don’t you?
  8. Stick your running notes on the back of the easel to keep yourself on track.
  9. Make your flip very visual. Use cartoons, images, icons, drawings. Learn to draw in a basic fashion, the group don’t expect you to be brilliant and get over wanting to be professional. Google Graham Shaw, he does a fabulous book and online learning on how to draw cartoons.
  10. Buy flip pads that have feint perforations so you can rip off sheets and stick them to the walls. Better still buy paper that has feint lines to keep your writing straight.
  11. When writing bullets of the flip, lower your body as you go to ensure your lines don’t start sloping downwards.
  12. Refrain from holding onto pens or even worse still, conducting the group with your flip pen baton. Just put them down.
  13. Remember to touch, turn and then talk. Never talk to the flipchart unless you have a lavaliere microphone strapped to your lapel.
  14. Positioning your flipchart. If you’re right handed, then position your easel to your left.
  15. Have two flipcharts on both your left and right to help capture more information. This can maximise your spatial anchoring because you can aid your group to relate the flipcharts to different things. For example, the one on your right can be for capturing group thoughts and the one on the left can be for your input. Just by walking to the right hand flipchart will stir the group to remember to give you information and ideas.
  16. Give syndicate groups paper to capture the results of their syndicate work and stick them to the wall as they present.
  17. Use thin masking tape to stick the flips to the wall; don’t use blue-tac, that’s a crime against humanity and walls.
  18. Store your pads sideways not lengthways to prevent the rippling effect and, if you can, store them flat rather than leaning against the wall.
  19. Types of flipchart. The traditional chart sits astride a metal easel fixed to the ground with three legs. Easily moved and lightweight. Wheeled models are particularly good for portability and can save you back. Wall charts that hang from wall railings save space but are difficult to use.
  20. Whiteboards are glorified flipcharts and, in my opinion, the best visual aid available. The rules are the same but make sure you use dedicated whiteboard pens, otherwise you’ll be there until the early hours trying to clean them. If you do use the wrong pen, and it won’t wipe, just run over the offending writing with a whiteboard pen, leave for 15 minutes and wipe off as normal.
  21. Whiteboards come in all sorts of shapes and sizes, can be fixed to the wall or can have wheels for portability. A recent invention allows you to peel them out of a box and stick them on the wall. Imagine cling-film and think whiteboard and you can see this new invention. Clever and allows a whiteboard anywhere.

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