Collaboration drives workplace success, and there’s no better way to collaborate than with a whiteboarding session. Whiteboarding sessions refer to the process of collaborative brainstorming during a meeting while writing an idea on a whiteboard, or for virtual teams, a similar digital tool. While whiteboarding can be incredibly beneficial for encouraging collaboration, fueling creativity, and opening the floor for group communication, leaders need to keep in mind that virtual whiteboarding requires a different approach than in-person whiteboarding.
How to whiteboard with your remote team
Collaboration is vital to workplace performance, one study shows that companies which promote collaboration are five times more likely to be high performing. Managing virtual teams in a way that promotes collaboration requires a different approach than in-person teams, and while in-person teams have the benefit of spontaneous conversations and the ease of natural collaboration, remote teams need more virtual meeting tools in order to have these organic communications. For example, remote employees won't pass by one another on their way to the water cooler, or take a coffee break together. Instead, leaders need to present opportunities and forums for collaboration and spontaneous ideation. An excellent way to do this is with an online whiteboard for distributed teams.
Collaborate better together by whiteboarding on Teamflow!
Whiteboarding techniques from the pros
So, how exactly do you host a whiteboarding session in a way that stimulates ideas, gets your team thinking, and ensures that participants stay on task? Whether your team is hybrid or remote, here are some whiteboarding techniques from the pros:
- Utilize visual tools: One of the biggest benefits of whiteboarding is the use of visuals to lead the session. Make sure that when leading a whiteboarding session, the visuals and text that you're adding are clear, well-organized, and neat. If you're having a virtual whiteboarding session, take advantage of the infinite digital tools available. You might be able to assign tasks to others, you can create graphics, and you should encourage everyone to turn on their camera to increase engagement and to make the meeting feel more personal.
- Stay focused on goals: What are the goals of your whiteboarding session? In order to make sure you're staying on task and the brainstorming session is productive, make sure that everyone is acting with the ultimate goals in mind. In free flowing conversation, some tangents might be helpful, but it's also possible to get too off-track.
- Park other ideas for later: During whiteboarding, new ideas are bound to come up that are unrelated to the topic and goals of the current meeting. Instead of letting the whole meeting become distracted, you should have a section where you write down these rogue ideas. Great ideas can be revisited at the end of the meeting, or at a later date. This is sometimes called a "Parking Lot."
- Use a template: There are plenty of templates available online for whiteboarding, which can help you run your next session in a way that is focused and organized. Templates can also be helpful with deciding how to visually structure an infinite canvas.
Using a virtual whiteboard
For in-person teams, whiteboarding is naturally collaborative. When everyone is physically in the same meeting room, it's much more likely that everyone will participate, feel the collaborative energy, and that the goals of the session will be realized. Virtual teams require more of a special touch for a whiteboard session to be as successful. For example, one team member with their camera off might not be paying attention, and only one or two participants might actually be contributing ideas.
But the good news is that digital whiteboarding can be just as effective as regular in-person whiteboarding, due to the sheer volume of tools and options. Here are some ways you can use virtual whiteboards to your advantage:
- Use different visual aides: One of the biggest benefits of a digital whiteboard is the variety of visual aides that are available. Instead of only jotting down notes and drawing diagrams (such as on a physical whiteboard), virtual white boards allow you to draw, write, create projects, lists, and graphs. This allows you to organize information in the best way possible, while keeping everyone engaged.
- Assign tasks: In order to ensure everyone is participating in your virtual whiteboarding session, you can assign tasks to different people. One team member can be in charge of drawing diagrams, while another can organize notes on a sticky pad, and a third can be in charge of ideas that are being put in the "parking lot" for later.
- Use tools that encourage collaboration: Not all digital tools are created equal, and there's a big difference between a whiteboarding session, and merely presenting to an audience. Make sure that you're using collaborative features of digital tools, such as having icons for each person present, ensuring that everyone's audio is enabled, and using tools that allow everyone to add to the virtual whiteboard. Here at Teamflow, our tools are perfect for virtual collaboration, and we also have project rooms where you can leave whiteboards and other documents open even after you leave the remote meeting, which are great for multiple whiteboarding sessions.
Why whiteboarding matters
Why is it that whiteboarding is so effective? There are three main reasons why this process is perfect for collaboration, especially for a virtual team:
- Visually representing the flow of ideas is not only more engaging and appealing for an audience, but it can also lead to better results. Visual thinking is connected to improved critical thinking, better problem solving, and puts power into the hands of everyone participating.
- Whiteboarding is the ultimate forum for collaboration, particularly when it’s done by a virtual team. Whiteboarding allows everyone to participate and contribute ideas, instead of just sitting and observing.
- Whiteboarding is an incredible tool for the brainstorming process, because it’s the perfect forum to encourage new ideas. When team members visually see things on the whiteboard, they’re much more likely to come up with new solutions, piggyback off of one another, and really think outside-of-the-box.
Take your remote whiteboarding to the next level
A successful whiteboarding session can be incredible for collaboration and brainstorming, but in order to do it right, your team needs the proper tools. That's where Teamflow comes in. Teamflow is a virtual office where teams can work, meet and hang out together. It combines video, open spaces, meeting rooms and tools for collaboration - such as whiteboards.
Host your next whiteboarding session in a Teamflow project room. Try whiteboarding on Teamflow for free and see how you can take your next whiteboarding session to the next level.
Reviewed by James O'Sullivan, Director of New Client Experience
Jamess O'Sullivan has over 20 years of experience building and scaling companies. With diverse experience under his belt spanning everything from CareerBuilder.com to Uber, James is a well-respected thought leader, eccentric, and boundary-pusher who regularly contributes to industry-leading publications such as Entrepreneur Magazine.