Interesting Experience in Using Flipcharts In My Training

As a trainer myself, I pay attention to the training conducted by the other trainers because I believe that there is always something I can learn from them. Apart from the content delivery, I also observe the way they speak, the tonality of the words they use, their body language, the jokes they make and the personal stories they share. Most of these trainers I met are good but only a few of them are effective in my opinion. What this means is that they are able to fully engage their participants during the entire training session and facilitate their learning. Interestingly, I notice these trainers have one thing in common. They seldom use PowerPoint. Instead, they use the conventional teaching tool called flip charts. I begin to wonder why using flip charts instead of PowerPoint can be more effective. In this article, I am going to share with you some of my findings.

Back to my MBA days, I had to do presentation each week on different subjects. At that time, everyone used PowerPoint and therefore, I had no choice but to learn how to use it. The slides must be colourful. The font size must be correct so that my classmates at the back (and more importantly my course facilitator) would be able to see the words clearly. I also learnt how to do custom animation too. Suddenly I considered myself an expert in using PowerPoint and from that point onwards, I started to believe that in order to deliver a good presentation, PowerPoint is a must. Since then I have been using PowerPoint in all my presentation and training.

Something happened around two years ago. For some reasons I started noticing my participants did not pay attention in my training. Some of them even fell asleep. Worst still, no matter how good I thought my training was, there would always be someone coming up to ask for a copy of my PowerPoint slides. I was frustrated and upset with such response and this prompted me to change my strategy in my training.

I decided to model some of these effective trainers by not relying on PowerPoint anymore. I will still prepare two slides - the title page and the contact page but that is all. Instead of PowerPoint, I use flip charts and I will always carry 4 jumbo markers - black, green, red and blue just in case they are not available in the training room. I begin to experience some changes in my training. Participants pay attention in training especially when I am writing on the flip charts. I guess they must be curious as to what I am writing. After I have written a keyword or phrase on the flip chart, I will immediately ask the participants to repeat the word as this will help them to remember the concept better.

As there is no more PowerPoint, there is no chance for my participants to ask for any copy of my slides. Nevertheless, I will still give them workbooks so that they can make notes and copy the keyword and phrases. Sometimes I will have incomplete sentences in the workbooks and I will ask my participants to fill in the blank. In the past I always thought that giving out workbooks and asking my participants to fill in the blank was a childish play. I now know this is not correct because it has something to do with some accelerated learning techniques.

The reason why I believe my participants are more engaged when I am using the flip charts is that they have no fallback on slides. As they have to take full responsibility for their own learning during my training, they have to pay attention to the concepts I cover, the statements I make, and the keywords and phrases I use. They will be asked to repeat after me these keywords and phrases and jot down their key learning messages.

At the same time, I will buffer some time to allow my participants to seek clarification and ask questions. In my opinion, this is a good opportunity to interact with them and reinforce their learning by referring to the flip charts as an anchor.

In summary, all my training becomes interactive and there is no more monologue. My training is fun and allows my participants to learn faster and more. Just two months ago, I tested this technique in a training involving highly technical content - technical analysis in investing. I was pleased with the fact that even in a training like this, the flip chart technique could work.

I love the flip charts and I am committed to use them more often in all my training.