Rotating Flipcharts Facilitation Technique

How To Facilitate

Setup

For each one of the topics that you want to discuss you are going to need a sheet of flipchart paper and a coloured marker. Make sure that every marker is a different colour as we’ll be relying upon this later. You’ll also need something to time with. I use the clock app on my phone, but if you have a time timer that would be better.

Split your large group into roughly equal sub-groups. You need to have as many sub-groups as you have topics; no more, no less. Three topics? Three sub-groups. Four topics? Four sub-groups.

Place the flipcharts equal distances from each other around the room with enough room around them for your sub-groups to be able to stand around. On each flipchart, place one marker pen. Make sure you have enough flipchart paper that you can give one sheet to each of your sub-groups. If you can give them a whole pad and an easel, even better!

The facilitator needs to determine how long each team gets to be at each flipchart. Consider how long the meeting is, how long it will take to brief and debrief the group, and how long it will take the teams to move between flipchart areas.

First Round

Find some way of splitting your large group into sub-groups to form teams. There are lots of facilitation techniques to do this, such as counting out around the group, asking for the group to self-organise, or drawing tickets from a hat.

Ask each team to go to a flipchart area. When a team arrives at the first flipchart, they are unwittingly assigning themselves a team colour through the colour of the marker that is in that area. From now on, the team will use this marker regardless of the flipchart area they are working in. By doing this everyone can tell at the end which team wrote what on each flipchart sheet. The facilitator needs to explain to the teams at this point to keep hold of the marker that they first use as they move around the room. Their team colour is the colour of the marker.

At the end of the timebox ask the teams to rotate to the next flipchart area either clockwise or anticlockwise, reminding them to take their marker with them.

Following Rounds

The second round will need one extra piece of direction up front that the subsequent rounds should not (though don’t forget to read the room in the moment and say again if needed at the beginning of a round). When the team arrives at their second area, tell them they should quickly review what is already written, and annotate with either a tick (we agree with this), a cross (we don’t agree with this), or a question mark (we don’t understand / we’re not sure about this). This review will happen during the timebox for adding to the flipchart, so if they’re not quick about it they won’t get to contribute everything new.

Once the team has reviewed the existing work they can add anything that they feel has been missed, including adding to what has already been written. When the timebox is up, rotate the teams in the same direction as they moved after the first round and repeat until the team is back at the flipchart area they started with.

Returning to Original Board

When the teams have returned to their original flipchart areas then it is time to start the debrief process. First, give the teams a couple of minutes to review everything that has been written including all the annotations. Once they’ve had this time, ask each team in turn to present their flipchart to the wider group. If you have time, give a few minutes to presentation and a few to discussion to allow the wider group to clarify anything that the presenting team may have misunderstood.

Conclusion

This is a powerful facilitation technique that allows for everyone to have their turn talking in a way that effectively allows them to have their voices heard by a large group of people.

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