Top tips for lettering on flip charts

Top tips for lettering on flip charts

Have you ever written a list on a flipchart only to discover that, despite best efforts, your writing makes a downward curve?

Here are my top tips for lettering:

  • Write your title in advance where possible. Figure out how many letters you can fit across the page before you run out of space.

 

  • When writing live, add a little mark to the opposite side of the page (where your sentence will end). Glance over at the mark from time to time – this acts as a guide to help keep your writing straight.

 

  • Stick out your pinky! Use it to anchor your hand on the page. This works whether you are right or left-handed.

 

  • Using a ruler, draw lines on your flipchart in pencil beforehand.

 

  • Use a piece of flipchart paper with thick lines and place it behind the page you are working on. (This always reminds me of my Mum sitting down to write a letter to my aunt using Basildon Bond stationery.)

 

  • On that note it’s also possible to buy flipchart paper that features lines or guides to help your writing.

Remember to use plain lettering with no serifs (small lines added to the stroke of a letter like this for example) and avoid fancy calligraphic strokes. They may look pretty but they are often inaccessible to your audience.

I hope you enjoyed these tips on lettering – if you have any of your own do let me know and I’ll share them in a future edition.

For more tips and hands on practice to boot why not join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on April 26th 2019? More information and booking here >>

Icebreakers with a twist

Icebreakers are sometimes overlooked as a non essential, flippant or even embarrassing way to kick off a training session.

If these thoughts ever pop into my mind I soon recall the one or two training events I ran where I decided not to use an icebreaker, and how disastrous they were.

Used correctly, icebreakers are a great way for a group to get to know one another, to relax and to get into an optimum mindset for learning.

Here are some of my favourite icebreakers; all with a graphic twist.

1. Truth or Lie
A classic icebreaker. Each person calls out two statements about themselves, one is true, one is false. The group have to guess which is which.
Add a graphic twist by asking for a volunteer to draw the first person’s two statements on a flip chart. (Once they have finished someone else gets up to draw their two statements, and so on.)
The volunteer has absolutely no idea what the person is going to say, and although at first the thought of drawing on the spot may seem horrifying, in my experience everyone really enjoys this game. The drawings make it a hilarious and memorable experience for everyone.

2. Animal Alphabet Game
Start by drawing an animal beginning with the letter A. Whoever is first to guess what the animal is gets up to draw an animal beginning with B and so on. I have used this with groups of children and adults alike and everyone loves it, despite often getting stuck on N, Y, W…

3. Pictionary
Who doesn’t love Pictionary? Not just for Christmas, it’s also a fun and engaging way to open a session. People take turns drawings words, sayings or topic specific phrases whilst others guess at what is being depicted. What could possibly go wrong?!

Despite some initial resistance, once the games get started everyone will want to have a go. These icebreakers also serve as a reminder that graphics are not about art, they are about getting a message across, and that’s something we can all do.

Have you used any of these icebreakers? Have you got any more ideas for graphic icebreakers? I’d love to hear from you. Share your comments in the box below.

And if you want to take your learning to the next level and experience some of these icebreakers in person, why not join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics? Next open course date is September 5th 2017. More info >>

So you think you can’t draw?

So you think you can’t draw?

The first time I saw one of my Dad’s drawings was last September. We were visiting my brother’s house and my niece was gently encouraging (i.e. pestering) him to draw on her blackboard.

He drew a tree and a boat. At that moment I realised I had never seen my Dad draw before. It was quite a strange feeling. Much like when you see a friend’s handwriting for the first time, it was a curious insight into his personality, his uniqueness.

This human element, this insight into someone’s personality is one of the key reasons I love hand drawn graphics so much.

You just don’t get that with those stock images you see in many PowerPoint presentations and websites. (My personal bugbear are the photos of  glossy ‘office people’ with big teeth and headsets. Who looks like that? Not many folk in Scotland anyway!)

The human element is just one of many advantages of using hand drawn graphics. Yet despite the multiple benefits people often resist picking up the marker and giving it a go. Why is this?

That’s right, it’s because people believe they can’t draw. They don’t see themselves as artistic.

***

Do you know what response you would get if you asked a child of 4 whether they think they can draw?

They look at you like you’re mad (I’ve tried it.) ‘Of course!’, is the typical response.

What happens when you ask a child of 7 the same question?

They don’t immediately say yes. It’s often ‘maybe’ or ‘sometimes.’

Is this because a child’s drawing ability has dramatically changed between the ages of 4 and 7?

No, it’s because by the age of 7 early conditioning will have set in. By this age we’ve often been labelled as either ‘good at maths’, ‘sporty’, ‘artistic’, ‘musical’ etc. It often becomes a label for life.

So perhaps you can draw? Perhaps it’s time to revisit your confident 4 year old self.

The truth is if you can draw a line, a circle and a squiggle then you can draw. It’s all about building on key elements.

After all research has shown that a drawing only needs 30% of reality for it to be recognisable.

Kinda takes the pressure off!

So it really doesn’t matter if your house is a square with a triangle on top, or your stick man looks like he’s had one too many. People will get it. That’s the main thing. It doesn’t have to be perfect to get the message across.

Graphics isn’t art. In fact people with a background in art often struggle with graphics because it is so quick, so simple, so in the moment. There is no room for egos when you’re working live with a group of people. Thank goodness for that.

***

At the end of every graphics course I run I ask the delegates for some feedback. At the back of my office door I stick up all my favourite comments. This is currently number one:

Found out I can draw!

Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics in Edinburgh on September 5th 2017 and discover what you can do.

How to spot good graphic facilitation

When I tell people what I do for a living, the common response is, ‘Oh you must be very artistic.’ I certainly don’t consider myself an artist. What makes good graphic facilitation does not necessarily make good art and vice versa.

You see, it’s not really about the little drawings, the fancy icons. People (myself included) can get really focussed on that.

It’s about so much more.

Graphics are about drawing out ideas and getting a message across, they’re about making ideas to come to life and getting everyone on the same page. They’re about communicating ideas quickly and easily. They’re about making people feel heard, appreciated and valued.

They’re not about producing works of art.

A good piece of graphic facilitation or graphic recording (often called a chart or a map) has many different components. When viewing graphics work consider the following checklist:

  • Is there a clear title? How does the lettering look? Is it legible? Are words spelt correctly?

 

  • How clear is the logic trail? Is it easy to identify headings and categorisation of themes and ideas?

 

  • Does it breathe i.e. is there enough white space?

 

  • How does the colouring look? Are the colour choices appropriate to the content? Is there a consistency to the use of colour?

 

  • Are the icons relevant and easy to understand?

So forget about art, think about purpose and whether the chart is serving the purpose at hand. Does it make sense? Does it serve the group?

Whether you’re hiring a graphic facilitator or interested in becoming one, keep this handy checklist close by.

And don’t worry if you feel you just can’t draw, believe me you can. All it takes is practice and a willingness to get stuck in.

Join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on January 24th 2017 to learn more.

The power of drawing BIG!

I first learnt about graphic facilitation when I did a course on Person Centred Planning back in 2002. The trainers had enormous pieces of paper on the wall and they were really working those markers.

‘Wow’, I thought, ‘That looks…terrifying!’

I loved art as a child and always kept my drawings small and neat. I would only reveal them to my teachers and classmates when they were ‘finished’.

The thought of standing up by a wall and drawing BIG as other people looked on filled me with dread.

Some years later when Kate asked me to co-deliver a course on Person Centred Planning with her I said ‘Absolutely. But there’s no way I’m doing the drawing bit!’

I’m happy to say I overcame my fear of drawing big and now embrace it at every opportunity.

In fact I recently created a ‘studio’ in my flat, where one wall in my living room is covered in enormous paper for the sheer pleasure of drawing big when the mood takes me (i.e. every day).

So what are the benefits of drawing BIG? Why do I love it so much? Here are my top three reasons:

1. It works as a very powerful visioning tool. Have you ever written out your goals on a piece of paper, put the piece of paper in a drawer and never took it out again? When you draw your vision BIG it becomes more real. I see this often with my own visions, and also when I am doing visioning work with coaching clients or groups. It really does feel different when visions are drawn big, and particularly if they are left up on the wall as a constant reminder.

2. Drawing big also helps us to think big. With all that space our mind starts to expand, to find new solutions to problems, to be creative.

3. It’s ‘not allowed’. I don’t know about you but when I was growing up I wasn’t allowed to draw on the walls. Drawing on walls was a ‘bad thing’! It’s perhaps for that reason that drawing (on paper) on the walls feels incredibly liberating.

And did I mention it’s tremendous fun?
Give it a go yourself. Don’t wait until you have the ‘right’ size wall or the ‘right’ paper. A piece of flip chart on the back of a door is a good start.

And if you’re keen to explore the power of drawing big in a fun, safe environment do join me for Secrets of Simple Graphics on September 5th. Book now >>

To your success,

Emer