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Flipchart vs. PowerPoint: A Visual Aid Royal Rumble

Kaboom in the Training Room

Over the past year, I’ve delivered a series of train-the-trainer sessions to various groups of non-training professionals.  I intentionally designed these sessions without a single PowerPoint slide in order to demonstrate that you don’t need PowerPoint to facilitate a presentation.

I cut my teeth in training and facilitation as a Peace Corps Volunteer.  Recently, an old Peace Corps friend of mine remarked with surprise that I still use flipcharts when there are so many other technologies to make a presentation look and feel more professional.

Here are the four reasons why I will never abandon flipcharts:

1. Flipcharts are forever (or at least for the entire presentation).  Once you advance a slide, the learner can no longer look at it.  The image is gone and attention has shifted to something new.  When I facilitate a train-the-trainer session, I spend an entire day referring to a 4-step training design model.  I find myself pointing to the following flipchart when I’m introducing the concept, later when participants are asked to design a practice lesson plan and yet again later when feedback is given during practice facilitation sessions.

Four Training Design Steps

2. Flipchart is dynamic.  Yes, you can annotate slides while you are presenting (Tamara Bloom gives some quick tips on how to do this).  My personal preference, however, is to pop the cap off a marker at any point without worrying about right-clicking and selecting a drawing tool.  Have you ever tried to write words using a mouse and a drawing tool?  I find it easier to simply walk up to and write on any visual aid posted around the room.  I’ve also found this helps keep a natural flow of conversation and participation.

3. Flipchart shows I care.  Below are two different welcome messages.  What kind of tone do you think each one sets?

PPT Welcome       Flipchart - Welcome

One of my participants described the difference between PowerPoint slides and flipcharts this way: “I really feel a PowerPoint presentation is similar to getting an email. I get them every day, and they look pretty much the same.  Flipcharts are a little like a hand-written letter you might get in the mail.  A little more unique.  And someone obviously took some time to write it out.”

4. Flipchart spreads session ownership.  When I use PowerPoint, I like to be able to walk around the room and advance slides using a wireless remote.  The fact of the matter is, however, that when I use PowerPoint, I’m really the only person in the room who owns the presentation.  When it comes to flipchart, everyone in the room can have access to it and can contribute and write on it to create new content.  Flipchart can be a portal that transforms the session from sole proprietorship to true partnership.

 Flipchart - Socialism

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