PowerPoint presentations can be terrific. But many of them are buttock-clenchingly dull.
One of the biggest problems is that PowerPoint tends to be static. Something appears on the screen and sits there while the presenter tells you… what’s on the screen. Then it happens again. And again.
That’s why the flipchart is enjoying a resurgence, particularly in the creative sector. Good presenters realise that it’s not enough to tell an audience something. You need to engage with them. Creating words and images on a blank page, in real time, is a world away from a pre-prepared series of slides – because you’re inventing new things before their eyes.
Here are some flipchart secrets.
1. Don’t write or draw too much before the presentation begins. A pre-written heading or simple piechart is fine, but if your flipchart pages are already full, you’re probably better off using PowerPoint.
2. Writing takes time and, unless you’re an acrobat, you’ll have your back to the audience while you do it. So write as little as you can. Don’t write We need to increase investment in our US operations. Write ↑ $ US and your audience will know exactly what you mean…
3. …because you’re just about to tell them! The best technique with a flipchart presentation is Touch, Turn, Talk. Touch the flipchart with your pen to write a word or symbol. Turn to your audience. Then Talk about what you’ve just written. It can feel a bit odd at first, but it means the audience always understands what you’re telling them – because it’s staring them in the face.
4. Use lively, symbolic words which are easy to replicate on the page. So, instead of saying “Performance during Q1 has been well above expectations. Sales grew by 600%”, say “Q1 sales rocketed 600%” and write 600% next to a cartoon of a rocket. (I can draw a rocket with flames shooting out of it in under two seconds. Practice before your presentation, and you can do the same. Try it with other useful symbols such as ‘bomb’, ‘dog’, ‘balloon’ and so on. People remember pictures better than words, so doing this makes your presentation more memorable, too).
5. Get hold of some big pens. A lot of flipchart pens are weedy, pathetic little things. Arm yourself with the fattest babies you can find. Use them to make big, bold, colourful words and images. Big images also make you look a lot more confident and assertive, so people will take your presentation more seriously and act on what you tell them.
6. It’s a live presentation, so why not involve your audience? If you’re presenting to colleagues, turn to one of them and ask a short question that requires only a simple answer. (“Dan, what’s selling best in the north?”) When Dan answers, write his response on your flipchart page. Dan’s involved! What’s more, the rest of the room will perk up, too - after all, you might pick on them the next time!
7. Give them something to remember. If you use a digital flipchart rather than just normal paper, everything you write and draw is instantly saved to your computer. That means you can print out copies of your presentation while you’re taking questions at the end, and give each person a set of notes before they leave the room. The technology’s not expensive, and it’s still quite new, so this creates a real impact. Or you can send the notes to colleagues over the internet.
Use these techniques, and dull PowerPoint sessions become a thing of the past. If you’d like to share your own tips, we’d love to hear them. Just click the reply balloon at the top of this post!