If there’s one thing that the pandemic changed, it’s how we work. Stay-at-home orders forced offices to close and teams to work from home.
Businesses adapted by shifting operations online, including meetings. Video conferencing traffic increased by 535% in 2020.
Today, more than three-quarters of employees use video conferencing to work remotely.
While remote meetings are great, it’s hard to completely replace some aspects of a good in-person meeting. For instance, you might immediately think of someone writing on a whiteboard.
Video conferencing companies are slowly catching up, and they’re adding features like an online whiteboard.
What’s an online whiteboard and how does it work? Keep reading to find out in this online whiteboard guide and get great tips to run a productive online meeting.
What Is an Online Whiteboard?
Think about all of the technology that would get used in meetings. There’s the overhead transparency, which would let you write notes on a transparent sheet of plastic. You’d then project that onto a screen.
An easel with pads of paper gets used for writing notes and capturing ideas during meetings. These are like giant Post-It Notes that you can put around a meeting room.
A whiteboard became the go-to tool for meetings. It allowed everyone to share ideas and made it easy to capture them.
The best thing about a whiteboard is that it’s reusable. Dry erase markers made it easy to erase and use it again at the next meeting.
Whiteboards became so popular that businesses started to use whiteboard paint. An entire wall or meeting room would get used as a whiteboard.
The purpose of these tools is to capture ideas, visualize concepts, and promote collaboration.
These tools didn’t exist in the video conferencing space. That is, they didn’t until the online whiteboard.
An online whiteboard is an online tool that lets users add their thoughts and ideas to video meetings and conferences.
How it works depends on your video conferencing tool. In Zoom, it works like the Share Screen feature. There are browser-based online whiteboards and apps that have the same functionality.
Benefits of an Online Whiteboard
The online whiteboard offers more features and benefits than a live whiteboard in an in-person meeting. A meeting room might only have a small whiteboard or there’s limited space to share information.
An online whiteboard doesn’t have that limitation. You can add as much information as you need to without cramming information at the edges to make it fit.
There’s always one person assigned to handle whiteboard duties during in-person meetings. They’re in charge of listening and getting all of the information on the whiteboard.
This is tricky during a brainstorming session when everyone is throwing out ideas at the same time. There could be one golden idea that gets missed because the whiteboard manager missed it.
Online whiteboards let all meeting participants share their ideas in real-time. It ensures that nothing gets left out.
In the end, everyone feels like they made a valuable contribution to the meeting. Participants get excited and they become more productive and engaged as a result.
Top Online Whiteboard Tips
The whiteboard is a tool to help teams collaborate. It’s not the end-all solution. It’s up to you and other meeting participants to make the most of it.
Start with the purpose of the meeting. It is a brainstorming session? Your team might need to map out the customer journey for better marketing communications.
Tie the use of the whiteboard with the purpose of the meeting.
It helps to have problem solving templates to guide you and your team. For instance, if your team is doing a debrief after an event, the 4 L’s model will give you a structure to get relevant information.
Remember that online whiteboards let everyone contribute at the same time. While this is great to get everyone to share their ideas, it can create chaos at the same time.
It’s best to have a set of guidelines for everyone to follow.
Tips for Effective Online Meetings
The thing about online meetings is that they can waste everyone’s time just like in-person meetings. There are a few ways to make sure that your video meetings are always productive.
Start with an agenda. This tells participants what to expect during the meeting. It also tells them what’s out of scope.
It keeps feedback and conversations on track. It prevents people from talking too much and taking the meeting in another direction.
That being said, it’s up to you to tell people that what they’re saying is off-topic and can get addressed later.
Since you’re using technology, you don’t want to waste precious minutes figuring it out. If you’re going to use an online whiteboard for the first time, be sure to try it out in advance.
Get someone else to enter an online meeting room and play with the online whiteboard. You’ll learn about the functionality and know how to implement it during the meeting.
If you’re using an app or browser-based online whiteboard, send out clear instructions to participants before the meeting. This minimizes the amount of time explaining everything to your team.
If you’re planning to have multiple people present during the meeting, give them clear roles and guidelines in advance. Tell them when they’ll present and what they need to address.
The Ultimate Whiteboard Guide
What’s an online whiteboard? It’s a collaboration tool that helps teams write down ideas and concepts during a video conference.
One of the benefits of an online whiteboard is that teams can capture every idea. Participants are more engaged. Just like any other tool, you need to have a reason and plan to implement it in your online meetings.
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