A Simple Way to Increase Flip Chart Readability
One of the more common mistakes I see presenters and facilitators make when writing on flip charts is that they jam too much information on a page. This cluttered look is typically ineffective and frustrating for the reader.
As with projected slides, I recommend limiting the number of lines per flip chart page. A good rule of thumb is six to eight words per line; using two to three-inch lettering size and having a maximum of six to eight lines of text per page (including your title line using approximately four-inch letters).
There are actually three good reasons for limiting the amount of information you put on each line and page:
- Aesthetically it looks better since you eliminate unnecessary detail and clutter.
- It aids the reader’s flow across the page since they do not have to read as many words and can now focus their attention on what you are saying.
- Most importantly, research shows that the human brain can effectively retain seven units or chunks of information (plus or minus two) in short-term memory. Thus few lines and words enhance memory potential.
Like any rule, there are going to be exceptions. For example, if you are writing a long list of items or capturing ideas presented from participants, and it is obvious that you will run on to a subsequent page. In such instances, you might go to the bottom of the page, tear it off, and have someone tape it high enough on the wall where you can add a continuation when finished. You can then continue on the next page. Once finished, you can tape the second page at the bottom of the first providing a continuing list.
For additional creative ideas on making, using, storing, and transporting flip charts, get a copy of The Big Book of Flip Charts: A Comprehensive Guide for Presenters, Trainers, and Team Facilitators.