Death to PowerPoint!
OK, well, not total death…PowerPoint presentations, aka slide shows, might be great for making funding presentations or showing graphs, cartoons, charts, or other illustrations to a group of people.
But as a teaching tool, they are, more often than not, a crutch used by untrained presenters. They are boring, confuse the learner and don’t provide any sort of interactivity between the learner and the presenter.
Let me explain…
Most teachers and presenters are aware of the three basic ways people take in, and process, information: visually, auditorily and kinesthetically. This is often referred to as VAK.
Visual is through our eyes.
Auditory is through our ears.
Kinesthetic is with our bodies and emotions.
The challenge in education has been that for decades, most education is done auditorily, i.e., someone stands up in front of a group of people and talks about a subject. The problem with this is that a very small percentage of human beings learn this way. Most of us learn visually or kinesthetically, or a combination of those two or perhaps even all three.
Download this handout for a nice reference guide to the three learning modalities.
The entire reason we teach in the first place is so that our participants have the opportunity to learn. But it’s not just learning that we have to be concerned with; we must make sure that the learner remembers the information so that they can retrieve and use it later. I call this process “making the information STICKY” and suffice it to say, slide shows are not a sticky teaching tool…but flip charts, as you’ll see below, are.
The Problems With PowerPoint
The problems with PowerPoint or any computerized slide show, like everything else, come from how you use it.
IF you put your entire talk or presentation on it, slap it in front of your group and read it aloud, you’re using it wrong. This is a lazy or untrained person’s excuse for a presentation. Your visual learners don’t know whether to watch you or the slide show. Learners also tend to think they have to write everything down and then they miss what you’re actually saying.
Your auditory learners are torn because they WANT to and NEED to listen to you but now they have this visual content that competes for their attention. They think they have to look at it so they don’t hear what you’re saying either.
Your kinesthetic learners are just bored out of their minds!
IF you use bullet points to outline your talk and fill in the blanks while you’re presenting, this is only slightly better; you’re still using it improperly for the reasons stated above.
IF you use it to throw up an occasional joke or cartoon, pie chart or graph or photos of some sort, now you’re using it properly.
But what if there was an easy-to-use teaching tool that allowed you to make everything you taught ‘sticky’ for your learners and allowed you to teach to all learning styles? Wouldn’t you want to learn to be an expert with this tool? Great…I was hoping you’d say that.
ENTER…The Flip Chart and Big Fat (sometimes smelly) Markers
Why a flip chart, you’re probably asking. Isn’t the new technology better? The answer is flatly, No!
The flip chart is, by far, the most effective teaching tool available to teachers…for many reasons…primarily because it helps you teach to all learning styles and gives you options that slide show presentations simply can’t provide.
For your visual learners, it provides color, words and images that become memorable pictures in their minds and, hence, easy to remember. And, since you’re standing in front of the flip chart to write (see below), they can’t wait to read what you have written.
For your auditory learners, because you’ll have everyone read what you wrote on the flip chart, they get a chance to not only hear the information but say the information themselves, which helps make the information sticky.
For your kinesthetic learners, they experience the movement in the actual creation of the words and images and this helps them remember the information at a deeper level. The information becomes visceral in a way.
Flip Chart Supplies
To get started, you’re going to need a few basics flip chart supplies:
1) Flip Chart Stand or Easel:
Invest in a big, sturdy flip chart stand if you’re doing presentations in one place and don’t have to lug it around. Otherwise, buy a nice sturdy metal easel with telescoping legs and remember to KEEP THE BOX. It makes traveling with your easel so much easier.
Note: Don’t let other people help you set up your easel because it will eventually end up broken by someone who couldn’t figure out how to work it. (Ask me how I know this!)
2) Flip Chart Paper
Flip chart paper comes in many styles and thicknesses and is usually 27″ wide by 34″ tall. Here are my recommendations from years of trying them all.
Regular, non-lined flip chart paper: comes in various thicknesses and number of sheets to a pad. For regular presentations, this is the best way to go. If you’re going to be drawing lots of pictures or diagrams, choose a heavier paper. If not, the regular weight paper works just fine.
Lined flip chart paper: though I have never had the occasion to use lined flip chart paper, I can think of many uses for it. If you’re going to be drawing technical images, maps or anything else that requires a lot of straight lines, this might be a nice option.
Graph flip chart paper: again, I’ve never used it but it would be great if you’re working at home with technical drawings for a presentation to a small group.
Self-stick flip chart paper: imagine a large sticky note…this is what you have with flip chart paper that has a self-stick back. The entire sheet isn’t self-stick, just the top few inches. It is either just adhesive (sticky) or some flip chart pads come with the sticky part covered with a piece of paper, like envelopes where you tear off the paper to seal. This type of paper can be great for short presentations where you want to put the paper on a wall and aren’t allowed to use masking tape.
The cost of self-stick flip chart paper is a lot higher than regular paper.
If you’re going to be using a lot of sheets during the course of your day (and flipping over each piece as you move to the next), do NOT use this type of paper. The sticky part keeps the pages from flipping completely over and they get messed up. You’ll end up with a lot less hair at the end of the presentation:-).
TIP: Buy online and in quantity. Staples has a good deal on a 4-pack and you can even order it from the comfort of your own home or office and they’ll deliver it.
3) Flip Chart Markers
The most important things about markers is that they need to be FAT. Markers for use with flip charts are different than markers used on dry erase boards. Generally you will need four basic colors: black, blue, green and red. There are specific ways to use the colors and we’ll get to that below.
Here are some options you might want to try: