Practical ideas for facilitating workshops & people development

Effective Flip Charts

IMG_0801I’m an avid user of  the Flip Chart, or as I tend to call it “butchers paper”. As my skills in facilitation have increased my reliance on powerpoint has decreased to the point I now rarely use it.

Todays’s blog is a few strategies in how I use Flip Charts effectively

  • Use colour – Mr Sketch Markers are a fantastic facilitation tool. I like to use lots of colour, borders, headings in different colours and usually write each line in a different colour so it is easier to distinguish as a participant.Be careful of some of the lighter colours, orange can be hard to read – however it is still great for headings.
  • Always, and I mean always, use the participants words. As soon as you change the words you have taken the ownership away from that person. This can be challenging with some extraverts who like to talk. Let them talk and then ask “What would you like me to write up here to capture your thoughts?”. If you remember from an earlier post extraverts like to think and speak at the same time- they will work through their thoughts out loud and then are usually very good at brining it back to a sentence. Listen carefully to the key words used by participants and always ask permission before changing anything. If you don’t understand what they are saying ask them “What would you like me to write down?”.
  • Put the flip charts up around the room so people can refer back to them. Once you have turned over the page no-one can see what has been discussed. Participants have told us they like the sheets to be put up in order and numbered so they can follow the flow of the session more easily.
  • Don’t worry about spelling – we are all human, if, like me, there are times the spelling simply disappears from your head, tell the group and someone  will almost always help – or put a “spell check” button on the corner of the page and make light of it.
  • Practice writing on the butchers paper – use print and make it large enough that people can read it around the room. It takes time to write neatly in straight lines on a flip chart.
  • Whenever you can, ask participants to work in small groups and let them record their own ideas – this can create more ownership in the process.
  • Keep the process underway while you are writing on the flip chart if possible, however don’t talk to the chart instead of the group and don’t hide behind the chart when reading comments back to the group.

I have received lots of great feedback about my pieces of “butchers paper” and find it a fantastic interactive facilitation tool.

Hope you all enjoy a great ANZAC day.

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Comments on: "Effective Flip Charts" (3)

  1. Visibility of colours is a great point. As part of the 25% of men who are colour blind I find pink very hard to read from a distance!

  2. Absolutely on everything you’ve written. Love Mr. Sketch (to the point of blogging a poem about him in the past!!). Not only do they have lots of vivid colors, they generally don’t bleed through the paper, they last a long time, and the best part: they smell great!

    On a more serious note, you are so right about the need to use the participants words verbatim. It’s amazing to watch someone deflate and take offense when you try paraphrasing what they’ve said. Ownership needs to be with the speaker, not the facilitator.

    Great post!

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