How to Flip Over Flipcharts

By Heather Baldwin

Picture this: You’re scrawling away on a flipchart in the middle of a sales presentation and everything seems to be going great. The audience is interacting with you, you’re capturing their input on the chart and when you’re done you step back so everyone can see what you’ve written. Oh, no! Your flipchart is nearly illegible. The lines are crooked, your lettering gets smaller and smaller so that it’s almost impossible to read at the end of each line and the printing looks like something out of your fourth grade art class. If this scenario sounds familiar, follow these suggestions from Robert William Lucas, author of The Big Book of Flip Charts (McGraw-Hill, 2000), for writing well on flipcharts.

1. Write in a straight line. If straight lines are a problem and you’re supplying your own paper, buy the kind that’s pre-lined. Or make your own by drawing faint pencil lines across the pages. When you’re writing make sure you’re positioned correctly in relation to the flipchart. Right-handed presenters should stand just off center to the left of the easel as you face it, and vice versa. Lucas recommends standing far enough to the side so as not to block readers’ views. Writing rapidly and avoiding talking while writing also will help you write in a straight line.

2. Write legibly. If possible, Lucas says you should write out your charts well in advance of your presentation so you have time to write slowly and legibly. Pick a font that works, he says, and stick with it.

3. Sizing title and fonts. The more white space you provide, the easier it is to follow your presentation, says Lucas. Here are some general considerations regarding size: If your letters are about 2 inches high, leave about 1 inch between lines, otherwise the lines will appear to merge from a distance. Generally, use capital letters for title lines only. Use a combination of upper and lower case letters for text lines. If you’ve got audience members sitting more than 50 or 60 feet away, consider using a projector because your flipchart will be difficult to read even for someone with good eyesight.

4. Make the charts consistent. The ability to create a look and carry it through the presentation is important to the presentation’s success. Use the same style, angle and size for your letters. Maintain the same distance between letters and lines. Repeat the color, patterns and bullets. “Repetition helps you and your participants follow the theme,” says Lucas.