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Virtual whiteboarding for overcoming distances

Lauren Grabau

Lauren Grabau

July 20, 2021

Teams spread across the country, or even the planet, can create a fun and interesting work environment. There’s never a shortage of topics for small talk. How’s the weather over there? Is anything interesting going on in the local news? But one place where this distance can prove challenging is when it comes to quick collaboration. Without the option of walking to someone’s cubicle or ducking into a conference room, it can be difficult to get fast input from your colleagues.

Luckily, this modern challenge has a classic solution. It may have gained popularity in the 90s, but whiteboarding is as popular as ever, and virtual whiteboarding is solving collaboration issues for teams close and far. Are you wanting to get your team whiteboarding but are not sure how? Read on for our tips!

What is whiteboarding?

Never heard of whiteboarding before? No worries, let’s start with the absolute basics!

Whiteboarding is the practice of using a whiteboard in your team meetings to jot down, discuss, and organize thoughts as they come up. It is especially useful for brainstorming as a team. When brainstorming, you can easily mark down everything as it’s suggested, loop back to each item without the worry of forgetting, and walk away with a physical copy of every team meeting to reference after the fact.

What’s better — you can do all of your whiteboarding on the same whiteboard in a room together, or (as is often the case) you can gather online to complete the session virtually. The need to whiteboard at a distance is becoming more important and prevalent since 2020, so knowing how to conduct a whiteboarding meeting is a great skill to have.

If you’re looking to get a little more in-depth before moving on, check out our post all about the basics of whiteboarding!

Uses for virtual whiteboarding

Whiteboarding is easy and useful to introduce into a lot of different aspects of work. Once you’ve mastered the practice, there are no limits to ways you can integrate it into your team’s processes. A few of the most common uses for whiteboarding include:

1. Brainstorming

What could be easier than using a whiteboard to organize thoughts and ideas? A whiteboard makes it easy to keep track of every idea and solution thrown out during a meeting and organize them at the same time. With a shared online whiteboarding space, a few basic shapes, and built-in video chat, your brainstorming sessions can go from chaotic to organized overnight.

2. Product design

Marrying a visual method with a visual job just makes sense. That’s why whiteboarding is great for product design teams to work out project kinks together virtually. By setting up a meeting with a whiteboard, you eliminate the need to send files back and forth to land on a solution. Go over the brief and talk through the project upfront, then use the simple shapes, text, and drawing tools to create a layout or wireframe together that the team can use to move forward with confidence.

3. UX design

Similar to product design, virtual whiteboarding is a great way to start your next UX project. By opening a video chat within Cacoo and hashing out any conflicting opinions on what will work best, you’ll have a strong start on your next project.

4. Sales pitches

A cold call or a PowerPoint just isn’t cutting it anymore. The more interactive your sales pitch is, the more likely you are to succeed and close the deal. That’s where whiteboarding comes in. Do your research on the company beforehand, then jump into a video call with a whiteboard pulled up to walk them through the benefits of your offering. Using your whiteboard, you can make quick notes of each point and figure you mention, draw helpful diagrams, and make your claims more poignant.

5. Interviewing

Whether it’s a design or dev position, being able to add a whiteboarding section to your interview process can help you assess your candidate’s skills firsthand. Then, all you have to worry about is making sure they’re a solid culture fit through normal conversation, and you should have a pretty good idea of who will be the best hire.

How to conduct a virtual whiteboarding session

Now that you know some of the many ways that you can use whiteboarding to remove the problem of distance from your team, let’s go into some individual tips. These will help make sure the entire team is bringing their A-game every time you meet.

1. Plan ahead

It’s the project manager or team lead’s job to ensure that every team member knows what’s going to be covered in each whiteboarding session. That includes sending out a schedule or brief and making sure everyone knows how to whiteboard. When your team knows some basic best practices ahead of time, you can cut down on the chaos that can ensue when trying something for the first time.

2. Act normal

This may sound like a no-brainer, but people who are not used to participating in video calls can find it a little weird at first. They might talk too loud, not know where to look, or just feel uncomfortable by being watched. Make sure that everyone has a chance to settle in. Warm up the group with some regular chit-chat about the weekend, or try out your favorite ice-breaking game.

3. Be ready for interruptions

Between tech mishaps and the interruptions that come with being at home, it’s best to accept ahead of time that they are going to happen. It’s not worth penalizing a job candidate because their internet router reset or because their infant son walked in halfway through answering a question. Take each interruption with grace and move on as quickly as possible.

4. Don’t get distracted

Surrounded by the comforts of home, it’s easy to start thinking about the dishes you have to do later, instinctively pick up your phone when it buzzes for a text, or open up a Facebook tab in the middle of the meeting. DON’T! Unless it’s an emergency, it can wait until after the meeting. You wouldn’t want to get called on for input and be caught zoned out. It’s okay to take intermittent breaks throughout the day, but don’t let them take over your day.

Final thoughts

With a bit of practice and planning, virtual whiteboarding can become the solution to many of the problems companies are currently facing with the rise of remote working. And, Cacoo is the perfect pairing for your team’s whiteboarding needs. With a video chat feature, in-app chat, diagram annotations, and real-time editing, it’s even better than grabbing your favorite conference room together.

So log in, open your whiteboard, start your video call, and get whiteboarding.



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