Master effective whiteboarding in 7 easy steps
May 27, 2021
Everyone has heard the saying, “Work smarter, not harder.” The phrase is truly applicable to almost anything — from homework in high school to mastering the cello to fixing an engine. Adding methods to make your work process more strategic and timely is just one of the many keys to becoming more effective in everything you do. Why would whiteboarding be any different? We’ve put together a few easy tips for how you can do some more effective whiteboarding without changing too much of your day-to-day.
Consider this your official Cacoo guide to effective whiteboarding. Aaaaaaand let’s go!
What is whiteboarding?
Let’s start with the basics. If you’re not already whiteboarding, these tips will start you off on your journey toeffective whiteboard.
Whiteboarding is the practice of using a whiteboard in your team meetings to jot down, discuss, and organize thoughts as they come up. This is especially useful when it comes to brainstorming as a team. You can easily mark down everything as it’s suggested, loop back to each item without the worry of forgetting, and have a physical copy of every meeting for your team to reference after the fact.
What’s better — you can do all of your whiteboarding on a real whiteboard in a room together, or (as is often the case) you can gather online to complete the session virtually. Using Cacoo, our own tool, you can do all of your whiteboarding virtually in real-time.
If you still have questions, never fear! We’ve already put together another blog introducing you to the ins and outs of whiteboarding. If you haven’t already checked it out, definitely give that one a read before going too much further.
Benefits of effective whiteboarding
We’ve already touched on a few of the main benefits of whiteboarding, but we’ll get a little more specific before getting to the good stuff.
With online whiteboarding, you will:
- Never lose track of suggestions.
- Stay organized while you work.
- Quickly write, edit, and erase ideas.
- Add a visual element to your team’s collaboration.
- Encourage more participation.
- Easily table ideas for later discussion.
- Swiftly get those who missed the meeting up to speed.
All of these benefits can quickly improve your processes. The more you integrate whiteboarding into your team’s meetings, the more benefits it will bring you.
Tips for effective whiteboarding
Now, let’s get to the reason you’re here! You’ve mastered the basics of whiteboarding, and it’s time to start getting into more effective whiteboarding practices.
Start taking your whiteboarding meetings to the next level by making sure you integrate these easy tips into every session.
1. Find the right tool
More and more whiteboarding meetings are happening remotely. Make sure you and your team have a tool that correctly suits your needs. We recommend our own tool, Cacoo. Using Cacoo, your whole team can be online at once using the digital whiteboard simultaneously. In real-time, every member can edit, add, delete, or move content around as needed. And, your whiteboard is still there exactly as you left it every time you need to go back or share it with another team member.
2. Use templates
In some instances, the meeting that you’re holding is more specific than just “brainstorming.” Maybe you’re holding a retrospective where you still want to facilitate free thought and brainstorming, or your product team is putting together a flow chart. Having specific templates would be far more useful than a big blank space. Thankfully, Cacoo has you covered — with hundreds of templates ready for you to use, you’ll save time on having to put together your own.
Knowing what your workspace should look like will put you not only at an organizational advantage but in the right mindset in general when it comes to kicking off your session.
3. Define your goals
Speaking of being in the right mindset, it’s enormously helpful to know exactly what you’re working to accomplish in these meetings. Have a firm idea of the problem you’re solving (without actually sitting down and trying to solve the problem yourself.) You can even go so far as to set some boundaries as to what can and cannot be discussed as part of this specific meeting.
When you’ve established this, clearly communicate these goals to your team before the meeting. Then, everyone will have a good idea of exactly what to expect during the session. You might even want to let them know a few days in advance, allowing them time to start brainstorming on their own first. That way, you’ll have a strong start to the meeting with some ideas ready to get the ball rolling.
4. Establish a process
The more you use whiteboarding, the more you’ll learn what works best for you and your team. Maybe you have a few shy members who find it easier to speak up if everyone takes turns, or maybe breakout sessions work best for your team. Whatever it is, make sure you’re taking note of what works best and actively work to integrate those specific things into all of your meetings moving forward.
Not only does it help you facilitate the meeting, but it also will help your team if they know what to expect.
5. Organize/edit as you go
One of the most beautiful things about whiteboarding is that it’s an ongoing conversation. It’s equally easy to erase something as it is to write it in the first place. Especially when using an online diagramming tool, you can add, delete, drag, and drop items with simple clicks. To ensure your brainstorming session is moving smoothly, make sure you’re adding things as soon as they’re said, deleting things that don’t make sense, and dragging similar ideas or linear thinking to sit together in the diagram.
This will make it easier to follow ideas during the meeting and to return to the board later to find ideas that you’re following up on. The more you implement a set of organizational rules, the more your team will be able to follow these themselves as they’re editing in real-time.
6. Use cameras
Here’s a simple one: If you’re whiteboarding remotely, turn on your cameras! While working in your whiteboarding tool, have a simultaneous video call going with all the participants. This will facilitate conversations and understanding within the whole team of who is doing what and why. Cacoo conveniently offers a video chat feature right in the editor, so you won’t even need to use a second app.
7. Assign actionable items
Once the meeting is over, the goal is achieved, or there seems to be a ceasefire on good ideas, don’t just leave! Before dismissing the team, assign actionable items to make use of what was discussed. If someone had a great idea but lacked the background knowledge to form the idea fully, make sure they research before the next time you meet. If someone knew a good person in another department to reach out to, make sure they reach out to that person while the thought is still fresh.
Brainstorming doesn’t stop when the whiteboard closes. This whole process is a beginning point, not an ending point. The next time you converge, the team should be ready to pick up where they left off with new information and new ideas.
Most of these tips should be simple to add to your whiteboarding routine. Cacoo makes most of these tips no-brainers as an easy-to-use tool that allows your team to work together in real-time. Start integrating them now and see how quickly your team’s whiteboarding skills level up!