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January 2003 - How to Use Flipcharts

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January 2003

How to Use Flipcharts

After the arrival of felt tip markers, but before the advent of today's hi-tech age, flip charts grew in popularity. They have been especially popular with teachers or speakers who find it necessary to move from room to room and repeat a presentation. The board doesn't need to be erased; the visuals don't have to be redrawn. And flipcharts have the advantages of being inexpensive and easy to make, either freehand or by using mechanical lettering templates. Although technology has in many cases passed them by, flipcharts still have their place. They are highly adaptable since speakers can write as they speak.

Here are six suggestions for using flipcharts:

  1. Keep them simple. The visual should aid or support the presentation. Too much writing or drawing on a chart is likely to confuse rather than help listeners.

  2. Use bold lines. Bold lines are easier to see. Bold letters are easier to read. Make it easy on your listeners.

  3. Be Clear. Clarity of letters, optical spacing, and appropriate lettering style are important because flip charts must be legible from a distance.

  4. Consider separating individual sheets and clipping them to the easel with large black paper clips to give you flexibility to change order of presentation.

  5. Avoid use of permanent markers that may bleed through the paper onto other pages.

  6. Since flip chart paper is normally translucent allowing information on the next chart to be visible from the chart on top, back up the flip chart with additional sheets of paper. Even better, to conserve paper, save time, and look like a pro, reverse the process and flip charts from rear to front. It's also easier to flip charts this way than to flip charts over the easel from front to rear—and you're less likely to knock over the easel.

Next time you are caught without your PowerPoint slides, improvise; use flipcharts knowing that you can use them effectively.

(This information was extracted from Dr. Kline’s book, Speaking Effectively: Achieving Excellence in Presentations, which Prentice Hall will publish later this year.)

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

January 2003 - How to Use Flipcharts
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