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How can I replace a flipchart?

The humble flipchart. There’s probably not a school, organisation or company in the country that hasn’t used one at some point. It’s a fantastic tool for meetings, lectures and conferences because it is efficient, flexible and affordable. It does have its downsides though, and there is technology available that offers all the functionality of a flipchart and more.

The flipchart is incredibly simple to use – simply flip to a clean sheet of paper and write. It needs no other equipment other than a pen, no training is required and it’s incredibly portable too – you simply pick up the chart and go. You can prepare pages prior to a meeting, and then annotate them during the discussion. Flipcharts are great for brainstorming sessions too, as everyone can contribute – so long as they don’t mind crowding round the flipchart!

On the other hand, they’re not ideal in many situations. If you’re presenting to one or two people in a small office a flipchart is fine – but in a large meeting room or conference it can be very difficult, if not impossible, to see what’s being written. Yes, you can tear off the pages as you fill them and stick them on the wall, but it’s not easy to record and read back a lot of information. And there’s also no easy way of sharing what you write on the flipchart after the meeting. You’ll need to transcribe the text, and as you often write in note form because of the limited space, the context of the notes is likely to be misunderstood or forgotten.

So what are the alternatives? There’s the traditional white board or black board, I suppose – but while they give you more writing space, they’re actually less practical. At least with a flipchart you can tear the sheets off and keep them – with a blackboard or standard whiteboard, once it’s full all you can do is erase and start again, so there’s no opportunity to record or share the information.

A much more practical solution is an interactive whiteboard. OK, you might need some training in using it, you’ll have more equipment to set up, such as a computer and a projector, and the initial investment is far greater than the cost of a lifetime supply of flipcharts. But the benefits outweigh the costs, and you’ll see a return on your investment straight away. With an interactive whiteboard, not only can you write and annotate but you can save, share, amend and revisit your notes. You can pull in other documents too, which makes meetings much more efficient. Imagine a budget meeting using a flipchart – you’ll need to print off handouts showing the budget information, or set up a projector so everyone can see the figures. With an interactive whiteboard you can project that information directly onto the board, add notes as you go along and save the whole document, complete with the new notes. You can also show other material on the whiteboard too – websites, films and so on – so there’s no need for people to be looking at several sources during a meeting.

Perhaps the biggest issue people have with interactive whiteboards is that they are not portable – whereas a flipchart can be easily transported, an interactive whiteboard is fixed in a meeting room. There are alternatives available, though, that make the technology portable. For example, SMART have a product called the Podium; it’s an interactive pen display – an external monitor that you connect to a computer and projector. It comes with special pens that let you write on the screen and then project that writing onto any surface. It’s effectively a portable interactive whiteboard that you can take anywhere. It’s proved particularly useful to Staffordshire Police Force, who already knew the benefits of interactive whiteboards but needed a solution they could use on location at events such as football matches. They use the Podium device to project an image of the football ground onto a wall and mark the areas to focus on.

If you’re looking for an alternative to the flipchart that can be used in many situations and bring you huge benefits, have a look at our range of interactive whiteboards and give us a call on 0118 336 0010 to arrange a free demonstration. 

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