10 Tips for Becoming a Master Whiteboarder Part 1

Success in business depends much on being able to communicate effectively and getting everyone on board–the whiteboard!

The whiteboard is, in fact, one of the central gathering places for team brainstorming, collaboration and the exchange of ideas. But not everyone feels comfortable using the whiteboard to lead a discussion.

Some may feel their cursive isn’t good enough. (If they’re still using cursive on whiteboards, then yeah, we would agree with them!)

Others may feel they don’t have any visual flair. Or they don’t write fast enough. Or they’re constantly running out of room.

Fair enough, but all of this can be fixed!

The truth is, the whiteboard simply requires a specific set of skills the same way certain skills are required for PowerPoint or Excel. Learn them, and you too can be a master whiteboarder!

Consider:

  1. Bringing Your Own Pens

Before you can accomplish anything on the whiteboard, you have to make sure you’ve got all the proper tools. How many times have you’ve seen someone stand up before a whiteboard only to discover there are no dry erase pens to be found? Or that they barely work? Bringing your own pens that you otherwise keep safe at your desk ensures you’re always ready to “bring it” in your next meeting.

  1. Printing in Block Letters

It doesn’t matter how bad your penmanship is. Just about everyone can print legibly enough in block letters. If you still have trouble, practice! Start with caps and then start incorporating lower case, which are easier on the eye. Over time, you should be able to accelerate your writing and keep up with the pace of the meeting. Make sure you’re writing large enough for those in the back but not so large that you leave yourself without space.

  1. Using Colors

Another great reason to bring your own pens is the assurance that you’ll always have a nice assortment of colors to choose from. This not only brightens up the board, it helps you quickly convey to readers how ideas and other messages are being organized.

  1. Being More Visual

Here is where a lot of people get stuck. They can’t draw, so they fill up their boards with so much text that people get lost. The secret is, you don’t need to know how to draw to break up your content. What you do need is a visual vocabulary of icons and other simple drawings that can cue the reader on what category the accompanying text falls into. These can include everyday icons that we all recognize from our cell phones and computers. The back of a sealed envelope can represent email. Little stick people can represent a workforce. Just as we all had to learn a language to speak, the trick is creating and memorizing this list of visual cues ahead of time, so you can use them during meetings without even thinking.

  1. Planning Your Space Better

If you’re the kind of person who is always running out of whiteboard space, sure, we all could use more whiteboards. But, a good rule of thumb for making the most of the space that you do have is to see the board in sections instead of a single rectangular block. Before you commit pen to board, agree with your team on how the board will be structured and then label each section. If you’re discussing a competitor positioning strategy, one spot of your board may be reserved for goals. Another for assets. Another for differentiation. And so on. The more you can see where you will be writing your ideas, activities, next steps, etc. before the session starts, the less likely you will run out of room.

Stay tuned for more whiteboarding tips!