Sunday, May 13, 2012

Three half-truths about flip charts

On April 15th Oliver Adria’s Rethink Presentations blog had a guest post by Joanne Westley on on Why Flip Charts Will Always Outlive PowerPoint.

Her four section headings were:

1. You’ll be a better presenter.
2. PowerPoint bores your audience, but a flip chart entertains them.
3. Using a flip chart gives you room to be spontaneous.
4. Your audience will remember you and your message.

Her first half truth under #1 was that:

“...there are no technological excuses, because the equipment can’t possibly fail! If the electricity goes out, you and your flip chart are still good to go.”

Got Markers?

That’s silly because it assumes that there are both the right markers and enough paper in the room. Make sure that you bring along a couple of wide chisel-point permanent markers. Fine or ultra-fine point versions just won’t do.

Yellow or pink highlighters also won’t do, but that may be what is left in the room for you. They won’t have enough contrast to be visible from the back of the room. 

Got Paper?

Don’t assume that there will be a pad with enough sheets for your presentation. Bring a  pad of paper with you. Remember that to avoid bleed-through you will want to leave a blank page between each page that you use. I prefer a pad with a one-inch grid of light blue guide lines. They help me keep my letters two-inches tall, and avoid them running downhill. 

Got Casters on your Easel?

There is a third technical problem with flip chart easels - casters, that was mentioned last year by Max Atkinson. If you don’t lock the casters before you begin, then the chart may roll away (or you may knock it over while trying to stop it).  

Her second half-truth under #2 was:

“With a PowerPoint presentation, the lights are dimmed and all attention goes to the screen.”

That’s only true if you chose to use light colored text on a dark background. If you use dark colored text on a light background (like a flip chart), then you can leave some lights on so your audience won’t go to sleep.

Her third half-truth under #3 was:

“A flip chart lets you be flexible with your delivery, depending on the feel of the room. And since you can decide how much to pre-draw, you can adjust the spontaneity level to suit your audience.”

If you learned PowerPoint in ten minutes, you probably didn’t discover that in Slide Show view you can change the pointer into a pen and draw on the screen. That’s the last item in Dave Paradi’s excellent article on Ten Secrets for Using PowerPoint Effectively. Put some plain slides in your presentation, switch to the pen, and you will have the equivalent of a flip chart for adding ideas spontaneously.

Here are two good YouTube videos - a two minute Flip Chart How To and a five-minute Top Tips for using a Flip Chart.

Images of plain and rolling flip chart easels are from Wikimedia Commons.

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