Top tips for using flip charts in your training delivery
Using high-tech computer generated presentations is fun, but the flip chart is still one of my favourite training aids to use. Even with all the modern gadgets available to trainers these days, many of us think that the best are the simplest. I think it's because we need to remember that the purpose of using visual aids is to enhance your training, not to upstage it. As a trainer, your visual aids should not be the star of the show.
Since most of my training is for groups of around 25 people or less, the flip chart is the perfect size. I also like it because it can become an interactive training aid – I can write on it, and so can the learners.
Here are four reasons why I think flip charts are great:
- Flip charts do not need electricity.
I don't need to worry about bulbs burning out or worry that I forgot the extension cord.
- Flip charts are economical.
I don't need any special films or printers to produce them – just some simple butcher's paper and I'm ready to go.
- Colour can be added very easily.
I've got a pencil case full of coloured textas so I can be as creative as I like and use colour to emphasise key points.
- Flip charts are easy to update.
Any last minute changes can be easily made, no files to update or CDs to burn.
Flip charts are low tech, reliable and don't require any special skill to use. Here are some tips to help you use them effectively.
The best flip chart stands have clamps at the top and will hold most type of flip chart pads or loose-leaf butcher's paper. If your stand doesn't have clamps, grab 4 large bulldog clips to hold your paper in place.
Make sure that the flip chart paper you use will fit the size of the flip chart stand you're using. Some pads of paper have holes at the top to hold the paper in place – check you get pads where the holes match those on your stand.
Most flip chart paper pads come either plain or with grid lines on them. Using the pad with grid lines makes your job easier for drawing straight lines and keeps your writing nice and straight. Look for pads of flip chart paper that have perforations along the top of each sheet, to allow easy removal of each page. Much easier to use!
When you're preparing your flip charts, draw your design on the paper in pencil first then, when you've got it right, use your textas.
Look for flip chart markers rather than regular textas. Flip chart markers will not “bleed” through the paper on to the sheet behind it. Also, they do not have as strong a smell as regular markers.
Avoid using the colours yellow, pink, or orange because they are difficult for the learners to see. You don't want your learners to have to strain their eyes to see your points. Avoid using too many colours on your charts. Using one dark colour and one accent colour works best to emphasise key points on your charts.
You can write your own notes lightly in pencil next to key points on your chart. The audience won't be able to see them! You can also write a note to yourself about what's on the next sheet so that you can properly introduce it.
If you make any mistakes, you can use “white out” to correct any small errors. However, to avoid your mistake being spotted, for larger areas you should cover the mistake with a double layer of flip chart paper and correct it, or throw that sheet out and do a new one.
Have a blank sheet of paper between each of your flip chart sheets. That way, the writing on the sheet underneath it will not “peek” through. This is especially important if your flip chart paper is quite thin, although I would recommend buying thicker quality paper.
Properly store and transport your flip charts in a case so they don't get wrinkled or torn. I use those cylindrical canisters that you can get at Australia Post – they're perfect! If you have flip charts that you use over and over, consider getting them professionally laminated. That way, they will last for ages and never tear or wrinkle.
Not everyone has neat handwriting, but it's important that your learners can read your flip charts clearly. If you don't have great writing, ask a colleague who has to write up your flip charts for you.
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