If you’ve ever participated in a brainstorming session, you probably already know all of the issues that can arise.
From disengagement to peer pressure to personality clashes, getting a group to brainstorm good ideas can be a struggle. The Harvard Business Review has even gone so far as to call group brainstorming a waste of time.
There’s no perfect solution to these brainstorming woes. But whiteboarding gets pretty close.
Whiteboarding, a method of collaborating on a brainstorming session, has been a popular tactic used by companies for many years. And now, remote whiteboarding tools, like our new tool here at Visme, are on the rise.
Today we’re breaking down how whiteboarding can benefit your team, how to conduct a whiteboarding session to maximize your results and the best remote whiteboard options (including a brand new Visme feature).
Here’s everything you need to know.
What is Whiteboarding?
Whiteboarding is the process of collaborating on a brainstorming session using a whiteboard — whether virtually or in person. Used by teams around the world for many years, these sessions aim to stimulate creativity as teams brainstorm new ideas or seek to solve a problem.
Your whiteboard session doesn’t have to include an actual whiteboard. Some teams prefer to use a large sheet of paper tacked up on the wall. Others conduct virtual whiteboarding sessions, using a video conferencing software to “draw” on a virtual whiteboard.
However you structure your whiteboarding session, the idea is to create a collaborative brainstorming environment where participants have a clear visual of the ideas being discussed.
How Whiteboarding Can Benefit Your Team
There are any number of problems you might run into during a brainstorming session. The good news is, whiteboarding solves most of them.
Participants aren’t engaged? The real-time visual on the whiteboard will draw them in. People can’t keep track of the conversation or remember what was said? It’s all right there in front of them. Struggling to gather up a remote team? There are a variety of remote whiteboarding tools available on the Web.
Whiteboarding is beneficial because it provides a visual organization of ideas. This fosters creativity, helping participants come up with more and more related concepts or suggestions.
12 Tips For an Effective Whiteboarding Session
There are wrong and right ways to run a whiteboarding session. Conduct an efficient and effective whiteboarding session and make sure you reap the benefits by using these tips.
1. Come Prepared
Your session will run more efficiently if you let team members know the goal of the session ahead of time. This gives each person time to prepare individually — something that’s especially beneficial for people who don’t do well on-the-spot and need to think about a problem first.
2. Select a Facilitator
A facilitator or moderator is one person who can guide the meeting. Their job is to help participants stay focused and on topic. The facilitator also might be responsible for tasks such as summarizing results and assigning jobs after the session.
3. Invite the Right People
Include people whose positions are relevant to the problem at hand. They might be from different departments or the same area depending on what that specific session is trying to achieve.
Stick to 4-8 people total for each whiteboarding session. The more people a group includes, the easier it is for the conversation to veer off track, or for some participants to never get a chance to speak.
4. Encourage Discussion
While there should be one facilitator leading the discussion, that person doesn’t need to monopolize the conversation. Everyone has valuable ideas to share — that’s why they were invited. The facilitator can help make sure the discussion proceeds in an organized fashion.
For example, go around the table and let people speak one by one. Or participants could raise their hands and wait to be called on. Everyone should feel comfortable sharing their ideas. But you want to make sure people aren’t talking over each other.
5. Stay Focused
Define a clear goal for each session, outlining what issue the session needs to solve or the idea it needs to come up with. Notify participants of this goal ahead of time.
When the session begins, you can also write out the goal at the top of the whiteboard as a clear reminder for everybody. If the group does get off on a rabbit trail, the facilitator’s job is to gently guide participants back to the issue at hand.
6. Let Everyone Participate
Allow participants to come up and write or draw on the whiteboard as they share their ideas. This gives team members a sense of ownership, helping them feel more connected to the project and confident in their own contributions.
7. Organize Ideas
If the whiteboard is getting cluttered with ideas and thoughts, it’s worth your time to pause and quickly reorganize the ideas into some kind of logical structure, such as columns or sections. This will make it easier for everyone to take in the information at a glance.
8. Use Visuals
Encourage people to draw diagrams or illustrations on the board to visualize their ideas. People are more likely to comprehend and retain information when it’s presented in a visual way: Research shows that it can take less than 300 milliseconds for humans to understand the meaning of a visualization.
9. Erase Irrelevant Content
Erasing any content that becomes irrelevant over the course of the session will keep the board visually uncluttered and provide you with space to focus on new ideas.
However, you may want to write this information down somewhere else in case it’s needed later on. Assign one person to take notes, writing down everything that’s mentioned either on a notepad or their laptop (or simply snapping a photo of the board before it’s erased).
The information can be shared with everyone present after the meeting in case it sparks any further ideas or someone wants to look back on the notes.
10. Keep Things Short
Don’t drag the session out for too long. 15-30 minutes is the best time frame to keep everyone focused and on track; a single session shouldn’t last any longer than an hour. Often, people come up with more ideas and better ideas when they feel like they have a deadline.
If your whiteboarding sessions are dragging out for too long, try setting smaller goals or fewer objectives for each one to cut some of that extra time.
When your whiteboarding session is finished, type up or write up the most important ideas that came out of the session, organizing the information in a concise summary. Then distribute a copy of this summary to everyone who was at the meeting.
12. Assign Tasks
Once you’ve come up with some ideas, take action. Assign each team member a specific task to complete based on what was decided during the session. This will keep the project top of mind for employees going forward.
3 Tips For Remote Whiteboarding Sessions
1. Record the Meeting
Sometimes, sending out a summary of the meeting results isn’t enough. Sharing an audio or video recording of the meeting allows people to listen back and hear every word that was said. Most whiteboarding softwares or tools have a built-in recording feature — start recording with one click and then automatically export the video file after the meeting.
2. Focus on Security
Any tool you choose should encrypt meetings to keep them private. You don’t want your company’s private session to be vulnerable to hackers. Protecting your meeting room with a password and using a virtual waiting room are two more cybersecurity best practices.
3. Turn on Your Camera
Often, we’re tempted to leave our webcams off when working from home. But encouraging team members to turn their cameras on will make the collaboration process much better. Seeing each other’s faces helps foster communication and ideas among groups of people. 87% of remote team members say they feel more connected to their colleagues when using video conferencing.
Top 5 Whiteboarding Tools For Teams
Run your next remote whiteboarding session with one of these whiteboarding tools ideal for remote teams.
Visme’s new whiteboarding feature lets you brainstorm ideas with your team in a live session.
Additionally, our design collaboration option makes it easy to collaborate with your team from start to finish. Trusted by leading brands like Intuit and IBM, Visme’s collaboration tools allow your team to work together on designs, keeping everyone in the loop as a project advances.
Collaborators can pin, circle, point, or draw on any part of your Visme design to leave feedback. Then you can finalize the design and either download it, publish on the web or embed into an existing webpage.
Everyone knows about Zoom — but not everyone knows that this popular video conferencing tool has a built-in whiteboarding option. Access the whiteboard by clicking “Share Screen” and then “Whiteboard.”
A toolbar gives you several options, such as adding text, drawing, erasing, clearing the whiteboard and more. You can choose whether or not to allow other meeting participants to use these features as well. It’s also easy to save your entire whiteboard at the end.
3. Microsoft Whiteboard
Microsoft Whiteboard is a collaborative canvas designed to foster effective meetings. Notes, shapes, templates, and more allow your team to visualize ideas and work more creatively.
Microsoft Whiteboard is enabled by default for most Office 365 and Microsoft 365 users, including in Microsoft Teams. You can share the whiteboard with all meeting participants and access the same whiteboard post-meeting to continue working on it.
Miro’s infinitely zoomable canvas and web whiteboard lets you plan projects from all angles.
With over 30 million users worldwide, Miro offers a collaboration experience that’s engaging and intuitive, integrating with popular tools like Dropbox, Slack and Google Suite. You also have the option to add advanced security and compliance controls.
Ziteboard is a clean collaboration software for businesses online.
See the big picture of any workflow, wireframe or prototype with Ziteboard connecting your remote team. Users can easily upload files or images, start a video or audio chat, and export their whiteboards as high-res images or PDFs.
Use Whiteboarding to Brainstorm With Your Team
It’s clear that whiteboarding is an effective method for any team — and when you know how to run a whiteboarding session, you can get as much as possible out of these brainstorming sessions.
Use Visme’s whiteboarding and design collaboration tools to make the job easy and fast — bringing ideas to life in less time.