Creating Fantastic Flip Charts

It’s a visual world and people respond to visuals.
Joe Sacco

Information written on flip charts enhances the learning process. During a presentation, the use of flip charts serves to inform participants, record information, and focus attention on a topic. They represent a simple, low-cost learning aid — with no requirements for power or technology, and no worries about burned-out bulbs or darkened rooms. Flip charts add versatility to a presentation, and allow the presenter to use creativity to enhance the learning process.

Required Tools
At a minimum, you will need a flip chart easel, several pads of flip chart paper, a few sets of colored markers, and masking tape for posting the results of exercises. Also handy are several packages of sticky notes to flag specific pages, and a straight edge. You may want to plan to cover up information that you will reveal at a given time during the presentation and then have some pre-cut paper available, sized appropriately for the text.If you are bringing pre-written charts to an off-site presentation, you will also need some type of container to protect the pages.

The Advantages of Pre-Writing

There are many good reasons to pre-write your flip chart content.

  • Confidence: You are in control of the material for your presentation design, organization, and appearance. This also helps reduce nervousness.
  • Appearance: Your material has a specific “look and feel” that is not necessarily easy to achieve when prepared during a session.
  • Time: With your charts ready ahead of the presentation, the time during a presentation is used for learning activities, not writing, which keeps your back to the participants.

Tips:

  • Always print; never use handwriting
  • Consider using a straight edge to stem tendency to write “downhill”
  • If you are using charts in a sequence, number them.

Using Colors Appropriately
Good use of color can make the difference in the dynamics of a presentation — and participants’ acceptance of the content. Conversely, the effect of a great chart can suffer from the poor use of color. According to the Optical Society of America, blue, black, and green offer the greatest visibility, and blue is the most pleasing color. Avoid purple, brown, pink, and yellow for any type of general printing.The use of two or three color combinations can be very effective.

Here are several rules.

  • Red and orange should only be used as accent colors for bullets, underlines, or arrows, or for key words when everything else is in black or blue
  • Avoid orange and blue together
  • Never use yellow.

When creating your charts, take some time to think about the colors you are using, and how they can enhance the understanding of your topic.

Creating a Plan B
Paper is not permanent, even if you are presenting at your own location. And if you’re flying with your materials or shipping them, packages do occasionally get lost or damaged. You will need a backup plan in case something happens.

Below are some tasks for creating your Plan B.

  • Keep documents on your computer organized by course, reflecting the content and order sequence of each flip chart.
  • Make paper handouts of the most critical information on the charts.
  • Take pictures of the chart pages, and have the camera or images with you on site.
  • If you have time to re-create some of your charts, enlist a volunteer to help you reconstruct the most critical ones.
  • If you will be returning to the site, consider leaving a set of your charts with a trusted colleague until you return.
  • As time permits, duplicate your charts in PowerPoint. Although you will probably continue to use flip charts, having them available in PowerPoint becomes a backup.