9 Tips for Better Flip Charts

While PowerPoint often dominates the visual scene during presentations and training sessions, flip charts are ever-present. Learning how to make flip charts can add an important visual element to your session.

One of the many advantages that flip charting holds over PowerPoint is that when a slide is advanced, it’s gone… but your flip charts can hang on the wall for as long as you need them to!

Here are 9 ideas to up your flip chart game:

Preparing to Make Great Flip Charts

1. Choose the Best Flip Chart Markers

Readers of this blog know I’m partial to Mr. Sketch markers. They have fun smells, they write smoothly, they don’t bleed through the paper and they’re the longest lasting markers I’ve ever used. Regular Sharpies are too thin (and they do bleed through the paper). Perhaps the worst choice of markers are dry erase markers – they’re not meant for paper. It still baffles me why I see them so often used on a flip chart. They fade quickly on paper and they’re kind of stinky.

good flip chart markers

2. Make Flip Charts in Advance

Sometimes you just want to create a flip chart in the moment to illustrate a point, but if you can create your flip chart in advance, they just look more attractive. Having some extra time to draw neatly on the paper may sound like a little thing, but the audience can tell when you’ve gone the extra mile to show them you respect their time and care about their experience.

Prepare flip chart in Advance for better flip charts
Preparing in advance allows you to have a little fun and creativity with the image
Flip chart made on the fly
Flip charts made in the moment often look rushed and don’t add visual attractiveness to the room


3. Write Big on Your Flip Chart!

A companion tip for writing big is to not think you have to write everything on the flip chart. Keep your text to keywords.

4. Alternate Colors

When you’re making lists, it’s helpful to use visual cues to distinguish between points. Alternating colors for each point allows learners to easily distinguish where one idea ends and another begins.

Flip charts with alternating colors are easier to read

Drawing on Flip Charts

5. Use Imagery on Flip Charts

Flip charts don’t need to be all words. Draw imagery that your learners can connect to your key points and help them remember your content.

Use Imagery on your flip charts

6. Find Things to Trace

If you’re anything like I am, your circles come out more like oblate spheroids. I’ve found the secret to a good, big circle is the lip of a garbage can! Finding things to trace can help your flip charts look more clean and professional.

7. When all else fails, find someone who likes to draw.

Sometimes people are just intimidated by a flip chart. “But I’m not an artist,” they’ll say. If none of these other eight tips are helpful, then there’s no shame in finding someone else – a colleague, an offspring – who really enjoys arts and crafts and markers and paper.

Advanced Flip Chart Tips

8. Write Talking Points in Pencil

Need some help remembering a key point you just have to make? Write some of your most important talking points lightly, in pencil, on your flip chart and stand next to the flip chart as you speak.

Write notes on flip charts in pencil
Using notes written lightly in pencil on your flip chart is similar to adding notes to your PowerPoint slide – you can have talking points without needing to write every word on your flip chart.

9. Make Dynamic Flip Charts

This idea didn’t pop into my mind until I was in a meeting in which my colleague, Jeremy Shuman, pulled out some flip chart magic. I got so excited I couldn’t concentrate on what he was explaining because I’d never seen flip chart used like this. He hid small pieces of flip chart behind his main sheet, and used pull tabs to make new information appear when he began a new point.

Dynamic Flip Chart - step 1
Dynamic Flip Chart - step 2

What’s missing from this list? I’d love to read about how you make flip charts for your training sessions. Tell us in the comment section!

9 thoughts on “9 Tips for Better Flip Charts

  1. Good tips. Thank you. I used to switch marker colors until I was reminded about those with color blindness. Don’t forget about avoiding certain color combinations for the color blind:
    Green & Red.
    Green & Brown.
    Blue & Purple.
    Green & Blue.
    Light Green & Yellow.
    Blue & Grey.
    Green & Grey.
    Green & Black.

  2. This is great! I use funky bullets – like a swirl – instead of a dash when I make lists. LOVE the tip to add the little pull out thing. And thanks for the 2/3 tip – I am in the same boat about the environmetn.

    • Yes! The top 2/3. (And I’m forever violating this rule because I don’t want to use one more sheet of paper… good for the environment, not so much for the participants).

  3. Thanks, Brian! I have found two additional things helpful: Think of the alphabet as circles and sticks to make your handwriting better (an “a” is a circle and a stick, a “b” is a half-circle and a stick, etc.) and second, to write in a straight line on unlined paper–put something lined under it. You will see it, but the audience won’t.

    • Thanks Tanya!

      Circles and sticks is a great way to think of handwriting.

      I’ve also seen someone suggest that drawing things can be broken down into basic shapes – a wagon is a rectangle with four circles (for example).

      And I love the unlined paper trick!

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