By: Leanne Armstrong
If you’ve yet to discover the power of virtual whiteboarding, we’re confident you’ll be both surprised and impressed by everything it allows you to do.
As an office space staple, you already know how valuable a whiteboard can be for visually supporting group discussions.
Now imagine what you could accomplish if that physical whiteboard were:
Digital. Online or software-based whiteboards display on the same screens you normally work on.
Collaborative. A digital whiteboard is essentially a blank slate where you and your team can all explore ideas at the same time.
Multi-functional. Not only do virtual whiteboards allow you to work through plans and concepts more efficiently (whether in person or remotely), the best collaborative whiteboarding tools offer a range of built-in mapping, diagramming, and charting templates.
Think of it this way: anything you can do on a physical whiteboard you can do faster and more effectively on a virtual one – and a whole lot more besides.
You’ll be able to:
- Tweak, edit, and manipulate your thoughts on the go
- Integrate knowledge and data from other sources
- Save your ideas, plans, and inspiration to use or revisit later
Virtually anyone can benefit from a virtual whiteboard – whether at home, for personal work, as a business owner, or for communicating as part of a team.
So now that we’ve introduced you to the concept of virtual whiteboarding, let’s dive in and see how you can use virtual whiteboard tools for better collaboration, brainstorming, and task management.
Benefits of collaborative whiteboarding
Efficient collaboration calls for robust, visual communication tools. Fortunately, virtual whiteboards and effective communication go together like peanut butter and jelly!
Collaborative whiteboarding lets you take advantage of add-ins like visual maps and flowcharts to keep your team better aligned, while reducing reliance on emails or meetings that drag on and on.
It’s also a great way to move your team from brainstorming, to planning, to task management and execution – all in one fell swoop.
Here are 3 big reasons to adopt virtual whiteboards with your team:
1. Faster information processing
Our brains process visual information 60,000 times faster than text. Fortunately, with a colorful library of stock shapes, symbols, and images to draw from, no one will have to rely on questionable drawing skills to get their message across!
2. Boost engagement
Visual content can boost engagement by 35-65%. Virtual whiteboarding is one of the easiest ways to ramp up buy-in and involvement, no matter what’s under discussion.
3. Longer-term retention
Using visuals in talk-based meetings boosts retention from about 10% to 65%. Whether you meet at the office or your team is dispersed, collaborative whiteboarding clarifies objectives, expectations, and priorities – then helps your team remember them better.
Overall, the visual collaboration that happens naturally when you flesh out plans, projects, and processes with a virtual whiteboard:
- Enables transparency
- Smooths out communication differences
- Facilitates problem-solving and decision-making
Now let’s find out why collaborative whiteboarding paves the way to more successful brainstorming.
Use virtual whiteboarding to crank up your brainstorming sessions
You and your partner or team will gain more from your brainstorming sessions if you take advantage of a digital platform to create, build on, and record one another’s ideas.
If you’ve ever used an erasable whiteboard and colored markers to stimulate discussion and develop thoughts as a group, you’ll know how freeing and productive it can be.
With virtual whiteboard tools, you can amp up that creativity without having to erase and lose all the original thinking you’ve uncovered along the way.
Virtual whiteboarding lets you drag topics around, draw connections between different ideas, and park related notes, links, and files where they belong.
And that makes it ideal for:
- Boosting productivity by working through ideas in a non-linear fashion (just like your brain does).
- Merging scattered ideas and disconnected data.
- Ramping up collaborative thinking around group projects, processes, or plans.
The virtual mind mapping diagrams in MindManager, for example, lend themselves to brainstorming in a number of ways.
Not only do they allow individual contributions to be incorporated quickly into a whiteboard-based map or outline, you can save all your team’s greatest ideas to tweak or expand on later.
Virtual whiteboarding is a truly dynamic brainstorming process that:
- Helps get the conversational ball rolling when you need to look at a product, process or project from a new angle.
- First facilitates idea generation, then lets you refine and turn those thoughts into action.
- Allows you to tap into collaboration as a means to discover unique, innovative solutions.
Because it’s faster (and more fun!) than using a manual whiteboard, digital whiteboarding lets you simplify concepts, add context, and create relationships between ideas in a shorter period of time.
Can virtual whiteboarding help with task management? You bet!
Once your ideas are laid out, you can jump right into using virtual whiteboarding to plan, carry out, and follow up on new or established activities.
Work tasks come in all shapes and sizes.
But whether they’re attached to a new project or an ongoing process, virtual whiteboard tools make it easier to create and manage them from beginning to end.
For example, you can use your tools to:
- Break big goals into bite-sized assignments
- Update or revise task-related data and resources as needed
- Stay on top of time-critical actions
Because your visual whiteboard can take the form of any number of digital maps, workflow diagrams, or timelines, you can use the different views in a program like MindManager to break down the tasks requiring completion – then track them as they unfold.
Highly functional virtual whiteboards aren’t just shareable, they’re also portable and offer ongoing visibility into what everyone on your team is thinking or doing.
With the help of drag & drop functions that make reproducing or rearranging task data easy, you can:
- Ensure links between large and small, joint and individual objectives are clear.
- Add more detail to tasks as they play out.
- Link various virtual whiteboards together, or integrate information from external sources like Google Docs or Excel.
Playing through different scenarios as you assemble and reassemble a series of tasks is so much faster and more effective with virtual whiteboard tools, you’ll wonder how you ever got along without them.
Virtual whiteboard tools to help get you started
The best virtual whiteboard tools are designed to empower you by giving your group an inspired, efficient way to work together.
Here are some popular options.
Sketch apps. In a pinch, you can use any sketch or drawing app – like Google’s web-based Chrome Canvas, for example – as a virtual whiteboard. Handy for making and saving quick doodles before that great idea disappears, these apps are relatively limited in use, and drawing skills are highly recommended!
Whiteboarding add-ons. Popular apps that include whiteboarding features include:
- Asana (lets you move sticky notes across a simple whiteboard)
- Aww app (a touch-friendly online app that lets you and others draw together via a URL link)
- Canva (a graphic design platform that includes online whiteboarding with design and animation tools)
Whiteboarding tools built into other programs. Tech-savvy users can create digital whiteboards with programs like PowerPoint, SharePoint, Google Slides, or Microsoft teams. Add moveable text, images, shapes, lines, or even videos, then record and share your boards during meetings.
Webchat whiteboards. Video chat platforms like Zoom and Cisco Webex offer simple, built-in whiteboards to help illustrate your thoughts as you speak to your team.
Physical-Digital whiteboards. By literally pairing a wheeled, physical whiteboard with a digital screen, Google’s Jamboard lets you draw with a stylus, erase with your finger, import online images, and share information with teammates in person or via a dedicated app.
MindManager. If you’re looking for a powerful, versatile, user-friendly whiteboarding tool, MindManager may be just what you need. The software’s various built-in mind map templates function like virtual whiteboards, but without limitations.
With MindManager, your team can:
- Ramp up collaboration. Run more effective meetings by following a sequence of mapped talking points.
- Take brainstorming to the next level. Go from idea gathering to executable plan within a single session.
- Streamline task management. Capture and present information in a logical flow that keeps everyone on the same page.
Not only does MindManager let you share knowledge, plans, and projects with customers and colleagues alike (thanks to the Co-Editing feature), you can collaborate in real time and sync your digital diagrams with other valuable tools like MS Project, SharePoint, and Microsoft Teams.
- Start a diagram from a built-in template to keep all your links, documents, and tasks in one place.
- Drag & drop to structure your diagrams, introducing data or knowledge from external sources as needed.
- Take your virtual whiteboarding maps on the go with the MindManager Go mobile viewer app.
Learning the basics of mapping is easy. And like any decent whiteboard, MindManager lets you redraw your maps again and again.
Ready to find out more about the virtual whiteboarding capabilities of MindManager? Take a free, 30 day trial today to get started!