A whiteboard may be de rigueur at a brainstorming or strategy meeting, but few leaders use the board to its full potential. Here are six tips to lead more effectively with a marker in your hand.
- Rethink. The whiteboard medium offers the opportunity to present information graphically. Think about how the meeting’s goals can be approached in a new way for a whiteboard, with colors and pictures.
- Get comfortable drawing. Learn some basic information layouts and graphics. In The Back of the Napkin: Solving Problems and Selling Ideas with Drawings, Dan Roan posits that complex ideas can be most quickly communicated with drawings, and the book offers a tutorial on basic drawing skills. Use and combine basic shapes. Label your drawing. Use thought bubbles. Add emotion with lines.
- Think aloud. As you’re drawing, talk. Your narration will help clarify your message and also help you slow down.
- Don’t hog the board. Have other meeting participants take turns at the board to elevate the energy in the room, give experience to more junior whiteboarders, and facilitate a better mix of ideas. The simple act of handing a marker to a colleague or client can issue the invitation for them to express themselves and show you value their input.
- Plan for photo notes. Whiteboard notes are often recorded with a phone camera, so think about this as you go, capturing single thoughts on the board before wiping. Write large enough for these images to be legible in a snapshot.
- Don’t forget the digital whiteboard. Many webinar programs as well as apps for video-conferencing make whiteboards possible. Take full advantage. But be sure to prepare your graphic approach in advance because pressure and quality expectations will be higher than if in-person.
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