Last week, I shared the importance of acknowledging input and “writing it on the wall.” The most common form is the use of an easel and flip chart paper, although with larger groups, using technology can be helpful.
So let’s talk about flipcharts. Here are some tips to make the most out of them:
Write in Large Capital Letters. Use the thick part of the flipchart marker. Leave a margin on both sides of the chart.
Capture Key Words the speaker uses. Abbreviate where possible. If you miss a point or don’t understand, ask for the speaker to repeat or clarify what was said. If in doubt, check with the team members to see if you captured the idea correctly. If you aren’t sure how to spell a word, ask for help. Or have a ground rule that misspelling is okay.
Let Everybody See. Stand to the side of the easel when not writing. The point is to capture ideas so team members can use their combined thoughts to move forward. Post charts on the wall with masking tape or low-tack tape.
Use Color. Alternate between two colors with each new point. Use dark colors such as black, brown, blue, dark green, or purple to record the team’s ideas. Highlight key points with orange, yellow, or pastels. Keep in mind that some people might be color-blind!
Be Bold. Emphasize titles with underlines, clouds or pictures. When listing items, bulletize with circles, diamonds, boxes, or arrows, not with numbers. Number each page and post on the wall so all can see.
Have Tape Ready. Before the meeting begins, stage extra pieces of masking tape on the easel or edge of a table so that you can quickly post the flipchart paper. Place the tape vertically on the top, about one inch from each side rather than at a corner angle. This will allow for easy removal. If posting on expensive wallpaper, use a high-quality drafting tape.
When you take down the paper, turn the tape over onto the back of the paper — this will keep the tape from sticking to other sheets.
Be Creative and have fun recording your teamwork! Use colors, pictures, and symbols to express your team’s thoughts and energy. If you don’t consider yourself to be artistic, try using “wingdings” or trace a picture from clipart or a coloring book.
At the end of your meeting, agree on what information needs to be saved, and in what format. Some teams simply roll up the flipcharts and post them right before the next meeting. In this way, they are ready to start where they left off.
Other teams like to type up the key points and action items as “meeting minutes” and distribute them shortly after the meeting. Still, others have electronic copy-boards which immediately reduce the flipchart into
KRISTIN ARNOLD, MBA, CPF, CSP is a high-stakes meeting facilitator and professional panel moderator. She’s been facilitating teams of executives and managers in making better decisions and achieving greater results for over 20 years. She is the author of the award-winning book, Boring to Bravo: Proven Presentation Techniques to Engage, Involve and Inspire Audiences to Action.