Dan Roam has a great line in his book The Back of the Napkin – “the hand is mightier than the mouse”. Hand-drawing in front of an audience has power and energy. I think most presenters have forgotten this. People hardly use the term Visual Aids anymore – because the only visual aid most presenters use is PowerPoint.

On our courses, we use a flipchart (along with PowerPoint). There’s a particular session we do on reducing nervousness which we do entirely with the flipchart. During this session I tell the story of an occasion when nervousness got the better of me and demonstrate what was going on in my mind on the flipchart.

Once I’ve described the bottom circle “Oh my God! This is awful!” I’ll ask the audience “What’s the likely effect on my nervousness?”

They’ll invariably answer, with enthusiasm, “It gets worse!” and so then I rapidly complete the chart ending with an aggressively drawn scribble to represent the vicious cycle of nervousness:

Once I had to present this session without a flipchart and quickly created PowerPoint slides that mimicked my flipcharts. It was not the same! I was conscious of keeping my energy up (it’s easy to let PowerPoint be an energy-sucker!) but I wasn’t getting the normal energy and response back from the audience.

Here is the still of the animated PowerPoint slide I used  – the animation started with the top box and then built clockwise around the circle. As I normally do, once I got to the bottom box, I asked the audience what the likely effect on my nervousness would be. It was a lacklustre response compared to what I was used to. What’s the point in offering your suggestions when you know the presenter has pre-planned every animation on the PowerPoint slide.

So don’t forget the flipchart as a useful visual aid. You’ll be able to present with energy and engage your audience.

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