by Lenny Laskowski
While everyone seems to
be interested in creating high-tech computer generated presentations, the flip
chart still continues to be the most effective presentation media of all. One
should not assume that investing a lot of money in high tech visual aids & equipment
will "make" your presentation. The best visuals have been and still are the
simplest. Remember, the purpose of using visual aids is to enhance your presentation,
not upstage it.
Since most presentations
are delivered before small groups or 35 people or less, the flip chart is the
perfect size. I feel the flip chart will continue to be the workhorse of most
There are several advantages
of using a flip chart. Here are just a few:
- Flip charts do not
need electricity - You don't need to worry if the bulb will burn out or
worry that you forgot the extension chord.
- Flip charts are economical
- They do not require you to use any special films or printers to produce
- Color can be added
very easily - An inexpensive box of flip chart markers allows you all
the creativity you want.
- Flip charts allow
spontaneity - Any last minute changes can be easily made.
In today's world of high
tech computers, fancy software and sophisticated infomercials, many presenters
today feel they have to create a presentation which shows off their ability
to use computers and their latest clip art library.
Although the software available
today does allow everyone the ability to create colorful slides and overheads,
we often find that the visuals become the presentation and not the speaker.
As a speaker, your visual aids should not be the presentation. You are!
Even though flip charts
are low tech, they are reliable and don't require any special skill to use them
but here are some tips to help you use them effectively.
- The best flip chart
stands have clamps at the top and will hold most type of flip chart pads.
Most allow you to hang your flip charts while some stands will only allow
you to prop them up. Don't wait until the last minute to find this out.
- Make sure the flip charts
you use will fit the flip chart stand you will be using. Some have different
spaced holes at the top.
- Flip chart pads are
usally sold in packages of two and come either plain or come with grid lines
on them. Using the pad with grid lines makes your job easier for drawing straight
lines and keeps your text aligned. Also, make sure the pad has perforations
at the top to allow easier removal of sheets. I have seen many presenters
struggle to tear off a sheet evenly.
- When preparing your
charts, it is best to first design your charts on paper first before drawing
them on the actual flip chart pad.
- Lightly write your text
in pencil first before using the actual flip chart markers. This will allow
you to make any adjustments with text spacing and any figures you will be
drawing. Do NOT use all block letters (UPPER CASE). Using upper and lower
case letters makes it easier to read. I like to use the 7 x 7 rule. Have no
more than 7 words on each line and no more than 7 lines to a sheet. Using
a 6 x 6 rule is even better.
- Use flip chart markers
and not regular magic markers. Flip chart markers will not "bleed" through
the paper. Also, they do not have as strong a smell as regular markers. You
can also find "scented" markers. They usually come in various fruit scents.
- Avoid using the colors
yellow, pink, or orange. These are extremely difficult for the audience to
see. Don't make your audience have to strain their eyes to see your points.
Avoid using too many colors. Using one dark color and one accent color works
- You can write "lightly
in pencil" any notes next to key points you need. The audience won't be able
to see them. You may also write what is on the next sheet. Knowing this will
allow you to properly intoduce your next sheet.
- If you make any mistakes
you can use "white out" to correct any small errors. For larger areas, cover
the mistake with a double layer of flip chart paper and correct the error.
- Have a blank sheet of
paper between each of your text sheets. This will prevent the written material
from other sheets to "peek" through. 11. Properly store and transport your
flip charts in a case or the cardboard box that some come in. This will protect
your flip charts and keep them fresh and ready to use each time. Take great
care of your flip charts. I have some flip charts I have used over 100 times
and they still look as good as new.
Making "prepared" flip charts
can take a considerable amount of time. Make sure you start preparing your charts
early enough so you can rewiew them and make any changes or corrections before
hand. It takes practice to learn how to print neatly. If you do not have neat
printing, ask someone who does prepare them for you. A poorly prepared flip
chart can be very distracting.
The most important point
to remember in preparing your flip charts is to start preparing them early.