Move over, PowerPoint — there’s a better way businesses can communicate with colleagues, clients and prospective customers. A simple yet engaging alternative welcomes sketches, two-way conversations and all kinds of feedback: the whiteboard.
The chalkboard’s younger sibling, the whiteboard isn’t wired to the web, and its contents aren’t stored in the cloud. But when it comes to interpersonal communication, this rectangular medium has brought business communication full circle. With whiteboarding, people can engage in dynamic, collaborative, productive discussions — no apps, Wi-Fi or computer screens required.
The Wonders of Whiteboarding
Regardless of the size of your business or your marketing and sales objectives, using a whiteboard in-house and with clients offers an array of benefits. Here are six of the biggest:
1. Get your colleagues thinking away from their screens.
We’re all guilty of spending too much time staring at screens. The whiteboard brings team members together, helping facilitate a creative synergy that often can’t be created during a virtual meeting or conference call.
2. Convey abstract or complex information that’s easy to digest.
Articulating your ideas on a whiteboard enables you to walk your audience through a product or process at a comfortable pace. Studies show that people pay attention to movement in a visual field, which is exactly what whiteboarding provides.
3. Present ideas and get feedback in real time.
When introducing a concept or product to a client who doesn’t share your knowledge of the subject matter, it’s best to engage them while you’re presenting. Not only will in-person whiteboarding enable you to present with clarity and confidence, it will also empower the audience to play an active role in the conversation.
4. Spark outside-the-box thinking.
Data suggests that when people engage in writing — literally writing with their hand — their brains are engaged in a different and deeper way, according to Tim Riesterer, chief strategy officer of Corporate Visions. The opportunity to exchange, rearrange, illustrate and even eliminate ideas removes the creative constraints that exist in most conventional meetings. Put simply, some of the best brainstorms and client pitches happen on a whiteboard.
5. Foster a collaborative environment.
A welcome departure from the stream of daily digital activities, a whiteboard session is physically and emotionally inclusive and fosters constructive dialogue between the presenter and the audience. Perfect penmanship isn’t required; neither is how beautifully you draw. Ideas are what matter.
6. Maximize the productivity of a meeting.
Every team appreciates a good note-taker, and a whiteboard allows the presenter to wear the hats of moderator and secretary simultaneously. Productive engagement comes from team participation, whether it’s contributing ideas or constructively poking holes in them. Whiteboarding’s efficient format makes it a great tool for getting the most out of meetings, no matter the topic.
Up Your Whiteboarding Game
Whiteboarding can be a valuable communication tool if used effectively. Here are a few tips for making this medium work well for you.
Less Is more. Try to narrow the focus of each whiteboarding session. Covering too much in one session could be counterproductive. Go in with just a few points of business and well-defined goals.
Don’t overwork the eraser. There’s nothing wrong with removing ideas from the board. However, breaking your train of thought to backtrack and erase can affect the flow of your presentation or collaborative work.
Invite feedback. From the moment you stand up and grab a dry-erase marker, you have the power to engage — and empower — your audience. Ask your audience open-ended questions about the topic(s). If someone is particularly passionate about a point being discussed, hand over the marker and ask them to write or draw their thoughts. The more you get others to participate in the discussion, the more committed everyone will be to the outcomes.
Assign action items. The key to successful whiteboarding is to turn the feedback you’ve gathered into actionable steps. Draw a star next to the action item, and then write the name of the person responsible next to it. Be clear about actions for every topic discussed, and get a commitment for the owners of each.
Keep the momentum going. Take a picture, and capture an outline summary in an email or Google Doc that you can send to everyone who attended. Make sure to do it shortly after the meeting. And keep it simple.
A Better Way to Communicate
Whether it’s for brainstorming, sharing ideas with your team or pitching concepts to clients, whiteboarding is an efficient and engaging way to present information.
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