Thursday, August 06, 2009

Flipcharts coming back? I’m not sure about that

An article in the newspaper this week referenced a communications consultant saying that flipcharts are making a comeback due to the backlash against PowerPoint. The article then gave some tips on using flipcharts. This is a position I’d not heard of, so I read the tips. And what I found was that almost every tip was really a tip on presenting when using any visual, flipcharts or PowerPoint. Tips such as not turning your back to the audience and speaking to the visual, making text big enough so the audience can read it, picking colors that have enough contrast, and using visuals instead of all text are tips that apply no matter what visual support you use.

I’ve heard people that are upset about the poor use of PowerPoint by presenters, but I’ve never heard them want to go back to using flipcharts. Here are some downsides of using flipcharts:
1. They are almost impossible to use during a web meeting. With travel costs being cut, more meetings are being held virtually.
2. They are very difficult to send to someone who missed the meeting. Many PowerPoint presentations are e-mailed to others who need to know what was said. Flipcharts have to be transcribed before being sent, a long, time-consuming process.
3. Writing on a flipchart and drawing visuals is difficult for many of us who don’t have graphics skills. The tools in PowerPoint make this much easier and allow for quicker creation of persuasive visuals.
And I am sure there are more that I could think of.

Here’s my suggestion. Learn how to use PowerPoint effectively by creating persuasive visuals instead of overloaded text slides (check out my book The Visual Slide Revolution for a five-step method). It’s not the tool you choose, it’s how you choose to use the tool that makes the difference.


Blogger Lisa Braithwaite said...

I use both PowerPoint and flipcharts and I don't think they are mutually exclusive.

Flipcharts are great for capturing the audience's input throughout my presentation; then I can stick the pages up on the wall where people can see them and we can refer back as needed. It gives the audience a different visual to look at in addition to or instead of the PowerPoint.

This might not work for a virtual presentation, and I never send my PowerPoints out anyway as they're image-based and wouldn't make sense to anyone who wasn't there. But who says you need the same tools for every kind of presentation? I've got lots of tools in my bag of tricks.

9:59 PM  
Blogger Richard I. Garber said...

I also was not impressed by Roger Davies advice on flip charts.

Last year I did a blog post about flip charts with links to better, older stuff about using them.

Another newer medium that has potential is digital whiteboards.

10:48 AM  

Post a Comment

<< Home