12 september 2019   463   8 min

How to get more out of your flipcharts

Flipcharts are one of the most common tools in meeting rooms, but surprisingly enough not a lot of professionals would actually call themselves flipchart experts. In fact, the majority only uses the flipcharts to take a few notes or even avoids them completely. That’s a real pity, because the flipchart is actually a blank canvas that can be used to visualize big and small ideas. Did you ever wonder how you can use flipcharts in your presentation to impress and engage with your audience? 

We have asked Birgit Nieschalk (www.flipchartprofi.com), human interaction facilitator & flipchart hero enabler, why she loves flipcharts, how you can easily get more out of your flipcharts…and how you can make your meetings, workshops or brainstorm sessions more impactful.

How did you fall in love with flipcharts?

That was actually in a seminar I attended. I didn’t see a single PowerPoint slide for three days. Instead, the essential points where beautifully visualized on a flipchart. As a participant, I was so much more engaged and it was very easy to memorize the content. That was when I decided that I needed to learn more about this medium.

What are your top tips to get more out of flipcharts?

  1. Get the right marker
    Selecting the right tools is key. Nothing looks more unprofessional than a smudged paper. That’s why you should invest in dedicated flipchart markers. They should have a neutral smell and never bleed through onto the next page.
  2. Turn the marker for cleaner writing
    Use markers that have a chisel nib. By making full use of the wider side, your writing will directly be cleaner and better readable as a thicker stroke is not as easily affected by little wobblings.
  3. Learn five simple symbols
    Pictures help the eye to grasp the content quicker and remember it better. Being able to draw only a few simple symbols will help you to put effective highlights on your charts. Experience shows that you will only need 5-10 symbols in your daily work.
  4. Work with frames
    Put four simple strokes around your whole text or things you would like to highlight. A simple frame is already perceived as a picture by our brain and therefore creates a helpful effect.
  5. Use different colors
    Not only pictures are better remembered. Also colors help the brain to process information better. Use a different colored marker to write keywords or highlight them with crayons.
  6. Less is more
    The brain can only process so much information at a time. Try to put only the essential stuff on the chart, get rid of filling words and unnecessary details. Rule of thumb is to put max. 3 short sentences or 7 bullet points.

Can anyone create better flipcharts without being a true artist?

Oh yes! Everyone can create effective flipcharts. It is all about knowing what goal you are pursuing by using the flipchart and making use of the right tricks for that. Actually, graphically talented people have a harder time as they often lose themselves in details and tend to forget about the actual goal.

All you need to create better flipcharts is the knowledge on how to make use of a few psychological effects and a little practice of clear handwriting, symbols and how to structure information.

Would you advise to make live visualisations or rather prepare flipcharts upfront?

Again, this depends on the pursued goal. Preparing flipcharts helps you to structure information upfront and you can take your time to concentrate on a clearer writing and add colors or symbols to make it look nicer. Some people feel more confident doing that. Writing or drawing in front of people on the other hand gives you another bonus. Seeing the information and pictures emerge, the brain remembers it better as if it has co-created it. So decide which effect you need more to reach your goal.

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