online whiteboarding best practices
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Online Whiteboarding: Best Practices and How to Keep Ideas Flowing

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Online whiteboarding helps you get back to the basics by putting all of your ideas on the virtual table before diving into mission-critical projects.

In a time where it’s difficult to uncap the marker and collaborate in the same room, there are apps that enable you to do so. Online whiteboarding apps can also help solve any potential hiccups that might occur along the way by envisioning a solid flow of ideas and troubleshooting any issues before they happen.

Working more cohesively with your team and listening to different perspectives is the best way to promote creative problem solving, cultivate a healthy work environment, and help you land on the next big thing.

Before you put pen to paper, check out our round-up of the best practices around brainstorming with online whiteboards and the tools that can help maintain your creative momentum.

Why online whiteboarding tools are important

The best leaders are always taking in new ideas and learning about the latest approaches to their given trade. Continuously brainstorming and collaborating is the most surefire way to keep things fresh while exercising your's and your team's creative muscles. 

You know why whiteboarding is important. So how do you do it effectively with remote and hybrid teams? Luckily, we’re experts on the subject! Whether you're kicking off a project or putting heads together on a problem, here's how to use online whiteboards to elevate your brainstorming process. 

Bring method to the madness with online whiteboarding best practices

Time for a team brainstorm? Instead of hopping on a video call and staring at each other, try these techniques to make the most of your whiteboarding session.

Try a few whiteboards to find the right one

There are several popular online whiteboards to try. Many are slimmed-down, single-purpose apps. Tools such as Bluescape have an edge thanks to enriched content and meeting experience.

While other interfaces fill quickly with sticky notes, a Bluescape workspace houses hi-res images, beautiful all-in-one presentations, editable documents, playable videos, and more. Mark up and leave comments on any asset. You can even create new assets in real-time by extracting pages from an uploaded document or taking screenshots from a video. The entire workspace is your whiteboard

Obviously, you need to determine your needs before choosing the right solution for you. Regardless of which one you choose, an online whiteboard is the foundation of a solid brainstorming strategy. 

Fine-tune your process

A lot of outside factors can derail a team’s brainstorming sesh. Here are some of the top reasons why whiteboarding sessions fail: 

  • Unequal conversation. Bolder personalities (such as extroverts and quick thinkers) tend to dominate conversations. However, that doesn’t mean more reserved team members don’t have something valuable to say. Encourage them to speak up!

  • Settling. Sometimes, people settle on the first bright idea that’s set on the table. New ideas that could potentially prolong a meeting might be shooed away for the sake of brevity. ****

  • Unpreparedness. It goes without saying that sometimes people will enter meetings completely off-guard. There is nothing more painful than trying to fill an hour time slot by talking to a wall.

You can avoid awkward, unproductive sessions by following these next tips:

Change the scenery

Switching things up can change the tone and inspire fresh ideas. Why not take it outside, or to a local coffee shop? Your surroundings play a huge role in the brainstorming process. They affect how you work, feel, and think. If your team keeps brainstorming in the same meeting room (or the same familiar work-from-home spots), creative juices can run stagnant. The vibe might start to seem repetitive and stale. 

Build off each other's ideas

The first idea brought to the table might not be the winner, but it could still be onto something. 

Maybe it’s the launchpad for three solid ideas you can work with. Your team can build off that idea by capturing it on the whiteboard and drawing lines connecting it to sub-ideas, creating a visual representation of the brainstorming process.

Building a virtual flowchart or mind map can be extremely beneficial in this stage. You can literally build off of ideas while keeping the main initiative at the forefront. You can also create Kanban boards to track every step of a project and ensure what was decided in the brainstorm session is actually taking shape. 

Use the round-robin technique

This strategy enlists the help of everyone on the team and gives even the shyest of team members a voice. In this type of brainstorm, everyone should provide at least one idea to the conversation and build off an open dialogue.

You should keep rules to a minimum, but a good one to keep in mind is to have the discussion go all the way around the room before anyone presents a second idea. If you have long-winded folks on your team, try setting a timer

In order to keep the conversation flowing, use sticky notes to stay on track with everyone’s ideas and call for a vote at the end of the session to see what resonated the most.

Round robin works best if people have time to prep beforehand so they can confidently present a thought-out idea. It also gives your team a chance to get all of their ideas on the table before moving on to the critique stage. Aside from giving your team time to prep, it’s important to set intentions and goals before the session begins so that everyone knows what they’re working towards.

So, when’s your next online whiteboarding session?

With these pointers in mind, you're ready to lead productive online whiteboarding sessions and bring diverse ideas together in a cohesive manner.

Not every idea on the board is going to be a game-changer, but even the most unassuming ideas can lead to something spectacular. That's the beauty of striking the right balance in a whiteboarding session: keep it free flowing, while providing just enough structure to be effective. 

We hope these whiteboarding tips and tricks will help your next collaborative work sesh be the best one yet!

And don’t forget: after the whiteboarding session is over, make concrete plans with expected results in order to actually bring your visions to life.

About the Author

Megan Ranger

Megan Ranger

Copywriter at Bluescape

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