Effective Presentation Skills: Flip Chart Tricks and Tips

Sometimes, they seem like relics of an earlier age, but flip charts still have their uses. Especially if we recognize that we can do more than simply write on them.

If you’re preparing a presentation, spend a little time preparing your flip chart sheets ahead of time. Don’t use the one on site; take your own instead. Here’s why:

First, you can write out the points for your presentation in pencil, in small letters, on the pages of the flip chart. This means you don’t need to take separate notes with you. And, it will look like you’re working without notes.

At the top of each page, write notes to yourself in pencil, just big enough for you to see them from a couple of feet away. Since your nearest audience member is likely to be at least 10 feet away, they won’t see what you see.

Alternatively, you can write very lightly in pencil what you plan to write in large letters for your audience. In other words, trace out your words ahead of time, in their final size, and use those words as your ticklers or speech notes.

Then as you’re working through that section, you can refer to your notes each time you write something on the flip chart. Much more effective than consulting separate notes on a lectern or elsewhere.

You can also draw lines on the page, or use sheets that come with preprinted gridlines to ensure you get everything on the sheet. When I use flip charts without preparation or planning, I often run out of space on the sheet, and end up putting just a couple of words on a succeeding sheet. That means the notes aren’t as coherent as they might be.

Finally, at the bottom of each page, write (again, in pencil and in small letters) a question for the audience that leads into the idea you’ll capture on the next sheet.

And when you finish with the idea on that sheet, you’ll ask a question like, “So, how do we implement this new process?” That gives the audience something to consider (and a transition) while you turn away to flip the sheet over and read the notes for that page.

The flip chart may be very old technology, but it can still be a very good friend when making presentations. Just think: no wires to connect, no devices to fail, no batteries to remember. The flip chart can also be a reassuring friend.

Sometimes an old medium offers some benefits you can’t get with newer and more advanced media.