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Flip charts, sometimes referred to as newsprint because of the type of paper used, have been around in training rooms for decades. They are a handy, versatile tool available to trainers, facilitators, and anyone else who needs a visual writing surface for ideas or information. They are great for quickly capturing participant comments, for creating prepared information and graphics, and for displaying material for reference later in a session. One of their greatest assets is the simplicity of use. Anyone can use them to write or draw in a session.
Flipcharts are the staple communication method of training. Whether for reporting back from groups, brainstorming, or discussions, noting key points or for filing in for the PowerPoint presentation after a power failure, no training event is complete without them. Flipcharts are inexpensive, yet effective training aids for small groups up to thirty participants (depending on room configuration). They provide an easy way to capture key thoughts or to highlight information in small group settings.
We usually associate flipcharts with classroom or convention presentations, but their central purpose – to record and visually display information that will engage and stimulate audience participation – is also ideal for mediation. Flip charts are “the perfect medium for harnessing the collective brain power of a group” (LUCAS 2000). As visual aids, flipcharts can not be beat. They are simple, inexpensive, low-tech and portable. They require no electrical outlets, batteries, or perplexing software. They can be easily and quickly prepared and produced, without the aid of expensive graphic artists or computer programmers. This alone is a comfort to the technophobes among us.
(Adapted from BRANDT 1986 and JONES 2004)
If you know the strengths and how to use them intelligently, flipcharts offer great advantages compared to its technical successor, the PowerPoint presentation. However, despite being a relatively simple tool, thing can go awkwardly wrong. Like many people you have probably seen flipcharts that make no sense, that you can not read from the back of the room and that look like a spider has crawled over them.
If you follow these ten simple steps and you will have flipcharts that look truly professional:
Making "prepared" flipcharts can take a considerable amount of time. Make sure you start preparing your charts early enough so you can review them and make any changes or corrections before hand. It takes practise to learn how to print neatly. If you do not have neat printing, ask someone to prepare them for you. A poorly prepared flipchart can be very distracting.
Flip charts can be used almost anywhere for visualisation for groups up to 30 people. They are especially helpful for presentations in an open venue or a place without power supply where the projection of PowerPoint presentations wouldn’t work. Flipcharts also offer more possibilities to involve the audience by easily adding comments, developing complex issues by drawing drawings/graphs step by step or by highlighting important sections. Most importantly, flipcharts forces trainers to keep things simple, as they cannot just copy-paste too much text and graphs into lengthy PowerPoint presentations.
KROEHNERT, G. (2007): Basic Training for Trainers. New Delhi: Tata McGraw-Hill.
BRANDT, R.C. (1986): Flip Charts: How to Draw Them and How to Use Them. United States: Jossey-Bass.
LUCAS, R.W. (2000): The Big Book of Flip Charts. New Delhi: Tata McGraw–Hill.
http://www.ljlseminars.com/ [Accessed: 12.05.2010]
A short text on 11 tips for using flipcharts more effectively.
http://www.selfgrowth.com/ [Accessed: 12.05.2010]
This homepage contains tips for using flipcharts effectively.
http://www.usingflipcharts.co.uk/ [Accessed: 12.05.2010]
The site gives you ideas and suggestions for how to get the best out of flipcharts.
http://ezinearticles.com/ [Accessed: 12.05.2010]
Some more tips to prepare good flipcharts.