Using rotating flip charts as a facilitative tool

Rotating flip charts are a facilitation tool that allows everyone a chance to speak on every issue.

Words being written on a large sticky note.

Rotating flip charts are a facilitation tool commonly used in medium to large groups to find out as many points of view on a topic as possible. One advantage of this technique is that everyone gets a chance to speak on every issue, without spending the time it would take to do so individually with such a large group. In addition, the process helps bring to the surface the most popular items being discussed as the facilitator will be able to see repeated answers. In a regular facilitation setting, this might not happen, as individuals may not want to repeat something that was already stated. This process is also helpful for people who want to brainstorm and clarify their thoughts in small groups before bringing it to the larger audience.

To set up the room for this technique, a facilitator needs flip charts, markers and space to move around. To facilitate this technique, proceed with the following steps:

  1. Decide how many questions you would like answered.
  2. Write a different question on each flip chart before the group arrives.
  3. Place the flip charts around the room, allowing for ample space around each.
  4. Divide the larger group into smaller groups and send each group to a different flip chart.
  5. Allow for each group to spend a predetermined amount of time with the first question.
  6. Give them instructions to record their responses as individuals and as a group below the question.
  7. Once the time is up, ask the groups to rotate to the next flip chart.
  8. Once at the new flip chart, the group should take a moment to read the question and responses from the previous group. Ask them to place a tick mark next to the previous answers they agree with and add any new items to the list.
  9. Continue this rotation until every group has an opportunity to visit each flip chart and answer each question.

Once the process is done, the information gathered can be used in many different ways. The facilitator may wish to report out to the larger group each of the responses, get clarification where needed, or add things that may have been missed. It’s also possible the facilitator may be gathering this data for a future project and choose not to report out at this time.

If used as a brainstorming method, the next steps would be to narrow down the listed topics. To narrow the comments down, a facilitator may take the most popular thoughts and then use another popular facilitative tool to collect the group’s responses: sticky dot voting.

Looking for other helpful facilitative tools and skills to use with your 4-H clubs or advisory groups? Read other Michigan State University Extension articles, including How to perfect the sticky wall facilitation tool (sticky dot voting).

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