Presentation Skills: The Low Tech Flipchart Option

Ever wondered how they do it?  You are attending a presentation or training class and the presenter stops and draws this complicated diagram on the flipchart without missing a beat. Perfectly proportioned, elements clearly labeled.  As with all things there are best practices and some simple tips that you can apply.

  1. Do not talk and write at the same time.  As soon as you turn your back to the audience your voice will be lost.  Plus your audience will be trying to see what you are writing and struggling to link your words to the visual cue they can’t see.  Draw, turn and then explain.
  2. Stand on the ‘right’ side of the flipchart. If you are right-handed try to set the flip-chart up so that you can stand to its left.  This way you can reach across and write without blocking the board. (Do the opposite if you are left-handed).
  3. Write Clearly, Write big! Use block capitals or large print – these will be more legible to your audience.  If necessary draw very faint pencil lines to help you keep your lines straight.
  4. Write keywords / short bullets.  As with any visual aide it should act as a memory jogger, not a full script. Try using alternative colors for each line of text.
  5. Be creative.  Draw shapes (triangles, stars, arrows, dashes) for the bullet point in one color and the text in another.  Google ‘graphic facilitation for lots of ideas – here is one resource that I have found useful and the good news is, you don’t have to be an artist to create interesting visuals!
  6. Display completed flipcharts.  Plan to hang flipcharts around the room if at all possible (don’t forget to bring tape and pins!).  NEVER EVER tear the chart off and screw it up.  It sends a message to the audience that the input they have just provided, or your content, is not worth keeping.  Hanging the charts around the room reinforces how much has been shared and learnt.  Plus you can link back to the points later on if appropriate.
  7. Drawing a diagram.  Sketch it out with very light pencil beforehand.  Trust me, up close you will be able to see it,  your audience will not.
  8. Write memory joggers on the back of the prior sheet.  If you are having to fold the used sheets over the flipchart easel you can write notes on the back of one page that will help you with the page on display.  You will be able to glance at it by stepping alongside the stand and it will not be obvious to your audience.
  9. Mark important pages.  Use post-it notes or tabs so that you can more quickly and easily flip backwards and forwards as required.
  10. Be prepared to lose the ability to spell.  It’s a well-known phenomenon that when you are standing up close to a flipchart word-blindness can and does occur…and not just with the difficult words!

Use these 10 tips and you will be using a flipchart like a pro!