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Flip Chart Alternatives

Kathy Fediw

I frequently need to use a flip chart or whiteboard during my workshops to create lists with the audience or explain a complex process in more detail. But many of my small business clients do not have a flipchart handy and most aren’t suitcase-sized. What do others use? Is there a software program that I can use along with my PowerPoint presentation, or something else that is more portable?

High-Tech Solutions

— Media Baldwin Hardy

In my speaking business as a Microsoft Office Expert, I have come across your situation, but from a different angle.

Several years ago, I had a seminar attendee who asked me to repeat myself four, five & six times when I was giving notes! The other students quickly began to show frustration at the numerous delays. The gentleman became embarrassed and stopped asking, but was obviously lost.

I hadn’t been notified about any special accommodations for hearing impairment, but suspected he suffered from hearing loss of some sort.

I immediately started using the white board so he could read what I was saying. He was able to keep up then, but walking back and forth from the laptop to the whiteboard and writing everything word for word took up a lot of time. (Plus, I won’t be winning any awards for penmanship anytime soon!)

On the next break, I opened the WordPad program, changed the font to 36 point, clicked view to turn off all the toolbars and minimized it behind the PowerPoint show. When the students returned, I toggled between WordPad and PowerPoint to type the notes. I mentioned that some people in the back were having trouble reading the whiteboard (and my writing). Everyone laughed and we continued the day that way. My student continued to read (and write) my notes from the screen and was no longer lost or embarrassed.

On his evaluation form, he wrote a note saying this was the best class he had ever attended and that he got a lot out of it.

  • To open WordPad: Click the Start button: All Programs: Accessories: WordPad.
  • To toggle between WordPad and PowerPoint: Simply hold down Alt+Tab to toggle to WordPad. Another Alt+Tab returns you to PowerPoint
  • To “erase” your whiteboard: Ctrl+A selects everything. Press the Delete key on your keyboard and voila’ — instantly clean whiteboard!

Hope this helps!

— Alan Black

There probably are some excellent software that will allow you to simulate flipchart immediacy on a screen using your laptop. You might also consider using

  • MS Word — project it on the screen and type what you want them to see
  • MS PPT — project and do the same

Actually writing this has inspired me to try this this weekend with a client group to test it out.

— Melanie Benson Strick

I haven’t started doing this yet but my speaker coach has suggested I buy one of the “tablet”-style laptops that you can write on. When you plug into your projector it acts like a flip chart. It’s very savvy and takes your professional image to a whole new level. Let me know if you end up doing it...I’d love to hear how it works for you.

— Arno Smitt

Just some quick thoughts:

If you want to use a computer you could use as graphics program and a wacom tablet to draw or write your message. Also in presentation mode (PowerPoint) you can hit Control+P this will activate the pen and you can write with it. Only you will lose the drawing when you are finished.

Or this may work out for you: a self-adhesive flipchart from 3M.

— Dovie Gray

I use a software called Mindmapper; it is awesome. You can brainstorm right on your computer; it will convert to a PowerPoint Presentation or a Word document. You can purchase it online at www.mindmapper.com. I love it!

— Gordon McGregor

Fred Pryor offers the coolest idea for you to use called MindMap5. It allows you to do what a whiteboard does on your laptop and project it onto your screen live. Check it out on www.pryor.com. All of us trainers with Pryor use it and LOVE it!

— Dave Paradi

One option you have in PowerPoint to capture notes during a session is to hyperlink to an existing Word document that just has headings in it. Once you activate the link from a slide, you go into Word as you would normally. Edit the document, save it and exit Word to return to your presentation. The added benefit of this technique is that you have a document that has been agreed to by the participants and is ready to e-mail after you finish — no transcribing required. For complex diagrams, I suggest breaking them down into smaller pieces and discussing each piece on a separate slide, always returning between each piece to the overall diagram to give context. I call this the “Break-down and Zoom-in” technique and it is useful for any complex visual.

Low-Tech Solutions

— Tara Kachaturoff

I think the folks who make Post-It notes make the gigantic Post-It note pages that you can just stick on the wall. You can buy them at an Office Max or similar store when you arrive at your location.

— Mitch Krayton

Print out the query form on plotter the size you need. You can create this on any word processor or graphics software. Just make sure you set the page size first. Instant print or poster shops can do this for you. Maybe your client can do it for you as well.

Then have the shop laminate the sheets and give them to you rolled up in a shipping tube. You can make it a size to fit into your luggage if you like. Depends on the size you need.

You can bring the tube with you on a plane or ship it ahead. Then use white-board (non-permanent) markers to take the census. When done, use a damp cloth to wipe it clean and take it to the next place.

— Maggie (Milne) Chicoine

Here’s how I solved the flip chart dilemma.

  1. Post-It notes now come in extra large flip chart size with a built in stand. No masking tape required!
  2. Artist notebooks — 50 pages, spiral bound — work really well with a small group. A variety of sizes are available at stationery stores (Staples). Cost varies, depending on quality of paper; recommend the heavier papers. I use scissors or a retractable exacto knife to score the sheets ahead of time.

— Sam Silverstein

If it’s appropriate have the client provide a "Post-It" brand flip chart pad. You can pull off the sheets and stick them on the walls blank. Then just fill them in as you go.

— Tom Gray

I’ve seen presenters use tablet computers with projectors. They’re able to project their PPT presentations and write on the screen at the same time. It creates a very slick effect and, with the handwriting recognition capability of many tablets, you have an effective electronic whiteboard as well.

This source offers various rolls of dry erase material that you can adhere to a wall and create your own dry-erase surface.

Finally, the simplest solution is to charge your clients with having a flip chart and easel available as a requirement of the engagement. The investment is so minimal and every office supply store carries basic flip charts and easels that there is no reason that they can’t procure the equipment prior to your arrival. Send a set-up list to your client or their admin prior to arrival and let them worry about securing the necessary equipment for your session.

— Michael E. Fraidenburg

Don’t give up on flip charts; just skip using an easel.

In some of my venues an easel is not available on an option but a pad of flip chart paper from a local office supply is. Go get a pad of paper and some tape. Then tape sheets of paper to the wall. Then proceed as you would with an easel. To protect from marker ink bleeding through the paper an onto the wall it is a good safety measure to tape a ’protective sheet’ on the wall first and then your ’writing surface’ on top of that.

— Elaine Froese

I have the same problem as I need a flipchart for family coaching meetings. My colleague has started buying post it note flipchart sized pads and leaving the rest behind when he leaves the city. This costs about $30. I rolled the paper from my flipchart into a tube to carry on the plane with me, and luckily my clients happened to have an easel backing that worked as a support.

I wonder if there is a product in Europe that folds up into a tube. I once saw a European-made solo panel holder that was really slick.

— Elaine Dumler

I’ve often prepared flip chart pages ahead of time and also wanted special blank FC pages to take to a client where I had to travel. Here’s what I did: I took one of the Post-it-note charts and removed the cardboard backing (except for the top part). Then I rolled up the pages and put them in a mailing tube. When I got to the client, I unrolled it ahead of time and it flattened out and I could then just peel off the pages I wanted and stick them to the wall or easel. It’s protected in the tube, easy to carry, and fits in the overhead bin.

— W. R. (Bill) Klemm

Concerning your post, I once attended a workshop where the presenter made very effective use of stick-on wall chart paper. It can even be used to get interactivity from the audience by encouraging them to post items on some of the sheets. The sheets are supposedly available at most office supply houses. They don’t leave marks on the wall, and they can be rolled up for easy transport.

— Jean Moroney

The smallest I’ve found is the tabletop flipchart that Post-It makes — you’ve probably seen it.

There are rollup whiteboard sheets. They come in pads and you can peel one off and put it on the wall, voila, whiteboard. Peel it off when you’re done.

I had heard of these but haven’t used them...because I couldn’t find them before. Just did another quick search on Amazon.com and found them here.

I have tried rolling up Post-It flipchart paper and then sticking it on the wall. Just take it off the cardboard backing. But you need to do something to make sure it doesn’t get crinkled when in the suitcase, and there is a little bit of a problem with paper curl. I look forward to hearing any other ideas. My experience is that software simply does NOT work for recording extemporaneous discussion.

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