Since our meetings, check-ins, workshops, and basically everything have moved online, we are staring at our screens all day. What I have found is that people miss tangible experiences. It is sometimes hard to differentiate between watching a recorded video and being a part of a live virtual meeting or event.

This is one reason why I often choose a flip chart and sticky notes for my visuals instead of slides.

I find the physical objects to be more dynamic and relatable than using powerpoint / slides.

Also, they allow me to keep my video pinned or spotlighted as the main area of the screen and it doesn’t require me to split screen or stop my video. That way I can continue to maintain eye contact and create a more human to human connection.

You can see a little example of how I use a flip chart below:

When I first tried using flip charts, I did not think much about it.

However, the groups I was presenting to were blown away. I actually got calls afterwards wondering about what kind of flip chart I used. They really loved it!

In case you have the same questions about what I am using in this video, here are my materials:

  • The easel is the standard “heavy-duty presentation easel” from Office Depot. (Office Depot Link) This one is pricey ($158), but you can get a cheap easel for as little as $40 online. You may also be able to borrow one from a school or university or business that is not doing in person sessions right now.
  • I use the Post-It Easel Pads because they are higher quality and don’t bleed through, but I tape over the logo with painters tape or washi tape at the top of the easel pad because I find it distracting. Office Depot Link ($37.50, but again there are cheaper options)
  • The colored sticky notes are also Post-It brand and I got them from Office Depot. Office Depot Link  ($13.29 for pack of 5 multicolored 3×5)
  • I use MrSketch markers because they have the right chisel tip, vibrant colors, and seem to last longer than other brands. Target Link ($13)

One other benefit of using physical objects as visuals is the ability to recreate the feeling of an in person experience. When I use sticky notes and put them on and off the flip chart, it shows the viewer that something is happening in real time.

When I lead a session with a group live, I can ask them where I should put the sticky note or even lead a live brainstorming session or an idea prioritization session where I move the sticky notes around based on the group’s input.

I have been playing with technology like Mural and Miro which can recreate this experience through digital sticky notes. Those sites are amazing, however if your visual needs are fairly simple and if you have participants with less confidence in technology, slower internet connections, or who are joining from a phone or tablet, I would recommend a good old fashioned flip chart.

Sometimes the answer has been with us hanging out in the closet all along.