Flipchart… a visual to record group memory

If you asked for my personal choice of an icon to represent Mumbai, I would choose the cab there. Its yellow-black colour is very eye-catching. More than that, I was particularly drawn to the fact that they are all old FIAT!! I believe they were all born a few decades ago!!! Another amazing fact is that their meters are not outside of the car!!

Enough…. back to the topic. Flipchart and marker pens are like icon for facilitators / trainers. One of its uses is to visualise a group’s ideas. With this purpose in mind, I learnt something new from the workshop last week how to do better.

Machine-gun inputs – What if there are lots of ideas coming from different people. You try to think in order to summarise with key bullet points, but there are just too many. A easy solution is to first take down whatever is said. After all inputs are “shot” out, summarise them on another flipchart. (Of course, you need more than one flipchart stand for that.)

Mumbling input – What if you try to record idea from someone who mumble? Lot of ideas (or no main idea), no structure….. in what he / she said. They are the kind of person who is developing his / her only whist he / she is speaking. A rather natural reaction is to put your own words for him / her on the flipchart, hopefully to summarise. A better way is to ask ‘thanks for your input, could you please help by giving 3 words to put on the flipchart?’ Well, if the participant cannot even handle this, just suggest a few words yourself (try your best) and say ‘can I summarise your input by XXX?’

There are some other things to watch out for, which I learnt in the past:

No yellow / orange / green marker pen – They just cannot see it!!

Don’t settle for sub-standard marker pens- I always bring mine, even if I travel to another city.

BIG font – People are used to write for themselves to see, but it is not enough if you are a facilitator – you need to write for the others to see. If you are not sure, do check it by standing at the back of the room before the class starts.

Write it slooooowly – You will easily feel that time passes too slowly when you are writing on the flipchart in front of the participants. You may even find yourself scribble. Practise, practise and practise to write more slowly.

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