Using a virtual whiteboard for real-time collaboration

When it's time to collaborate, you might turn to tools like sticky notes, slideshows, or a classic whiteboard. These are great resources, but like many in-person physical tools, they don’t always work in the hybrid-work era.

A whiteboard, for instance, requires everyone to be in the same room with the necessary supplies. Sharing the work with others — either through remote video calls or recordings for later viewing — is challenging and often includes hand-drawn images or charts that make the whiteboard hard to read and share.

A virtual shared whiteboard can solve these problems with 21st-century tools. Online whiteboards transform the collaborative workspace to help your team do its best work, from brainstorming and project management to design revisions and education.

What is a virtual whiteboard?

A virtual whiteboard is a centralized tool that enables teams to add text, images, comments, file links, and more

A virtual whiteboard offers a centralized space for people to log in and modify a blank canvas. Virtual whiteboards, like physical boards, can include text and drawings, but they also enable richer content like images, videos, comments, links to other files, flowcharts, and interactive elements. People can hop in from any device and any location, making the space accessible and engaging for all.

You can combine a virtual whiteboard with video calls or project it onto a wall to blend it with other parts of your workflow. Plus, you can save high-quality recordings for later planning and review, since everything is on screen.

Organizations use online digital whiteboards for many different purposes, including:

  • Brainstorming sessions
  • Presentations
  • Education
  • Planning
  • Drafting
  • Onboarding

Why use a virtual whiteboard?

The benefits of a virtual whiteboard go far beyond a digitized version of a regular board. It offers tools that unlock your team's productivity, creativity, and engagement. Below are some remote whiteboard advantages you can use to make the most of your meetings.

Simple setup

A virtual whiteboard doesn't require any complicated setup — technical or otherwise. You don't need to book a meeting room, find markers that work, buy sticky notes, or locate a whiteboard floating around the office. All of your meeting participants can simply log in and start contributing. A simple interface allows the team to work together without a complex learning curve. It offers infinite options, so you can try new things and experiment, with minimal setup required.

The right digital whiteboard system won't lead to challenging technical requirements. A cloud-based system is easy to implement and accessible from web browsers, so your team won't need to worry about having the right software on their device. Simple administration and security can also help keep costs down for IT teams and your business overall.

Remote collaboration

Digital whiteboards enable collaboration across remote, in-person, and hybrid teams

Remote work is the future for many businesses. It can boost productivity, improve your team's well-being, and provide many other benefits, but only if team members have the right resources. Online whiteboards offer collaboration tools for any combination of in-person and remote work. Of course, a fully remote team can use one, but so can an in-person or hybrid team.

Participants can more easily engage with each other's contributions and include richer information by logging into a virtual whiteboard. A meeting leader could give their presentation through a whiteboard instead of a slideshow, offering more opportunities for interactivity, comments, and engagement. They can truly collaborate instead of just communicating ideas. 

Online meeting whiteboards can simultaneously serve in-person and remote workers, too. Traditionally, if you wanted to include a remote worker in an in-person whiteboarding session, you might videoconference them into the room. Remote participants would need to communicate their ideas with someone in the room to transcribe onto the physical whiteboard for them — a cumbersome and confusing process that makes it hard to collaborate.

Remote whiteboards give everyone equal access, putting remote and in-person workers on a level playing field. This format also helps you collect different kinds of input. One person on a design team might join from a tablet, where they can contribute drawings and sketches. Another might hop on from a laptop to more easily type up project management tasks. The result is exceptional remote collaboration and the cohesive marriage of diverse ideas.

Improved communication

To “save” the information from a traditional whiteboard, you might try taking a picture or hastily writing everything down. But what happens when you need clarification later and don't know who made a certain suggestion? Or when you can't find the file referenced in a flowchart? Or simply make a mistake in the transcription?

If it's hard for workers to find the information they need, you might have data silos on your hands. A virtual whiteboard can help people access necessary information and support strong content management practices. An online whiteboard centralizes all of the information for a single source of truth. You can see names attached to comments and connect elements with other resources, so everything you need is in one place. The right platform allows your whiteboard to unlock the power of the cloud.

Online whiteboard tools also offer easy sharing. You can share a snapshot of your board or record entire videos of brainstorming sessions and meetings to see how it all comes together.

Increased inclusion and engagement

A virtual whiteboard allows anyone to get involved. It's good for remote workers, introverted team members, and those who prefer different communication mediums and styles. In-person and remote users interact with each other in the same way, so no one's missing out. You get to hear from everyone — no matter where they are or how they prefer to share their ideas.

Fostering inclusion in the workplace creates a safe space for traditionally marginalized team members to use their voices. It helps create an environment of trust and belonging, foundational components of creativity. Diversity and creativity go hand in hand, as diverse workforces include more perspectives to fuel innovation.

Virtual whiteboards allow your organization to engage with a more diverse selection of people, bringing new perspectives from a widely distributed workforce. Your team can include people from across the globe and those who may not feel comfortable contributing in traditional meetings.

Enhanced productivity

A conventional whiteboard simply gives you a large space to write and draw. The digital version adds many tools, such as commenting and interactive polls, to help your team work faster and more efficiently. Some possible examples of virtual whiteboard features include:

  • Facilitator mode, a special option that allows facilitators to add engaging activities like polls and timed exercises for presentations
  • Internal and external collaboration to work together without barriers
  • Pre-made and custom templates so you can dive into your work quickly with ready-to-use setups
  • Shared data access through the cloud, allowing team members to work with the same information and eliminate time spent hunting down details and files
  • Support for varying workflows with a flexible space that fits into remote team stand-ups, presentations, brainstorming sessions, and nearly any process

With a wide range of resources, teams and organizations can get more out of their meetings to save time, money, and frustration.

A space for innovation

A remote whiteboard provides a dedicated space for innovative ideas. Teams have multiple ways to contribute and use the platform, allowing you to foster creativity in an actionable environment. You can easily build on the whiteboard and turn ideas into results. This tool also supports a culture of creativity,a trait that high-growth brands are more likely to have.

Digital collaboration spaces are especially important for remote teams. A lack of in-person interaction can keep people from engaging with other perspectives and stifle creativity. A virtual whiteboard lets everyone connect. The blank canvas leaves unlimited possibilities for everything from simple brainstorming sessions and creative presentations to mind mapping, flowcharts, Kanban boards, and design drafts.

An online meeting whiteboard is designed to offer unlimited possibilities, with an infinite workspace and countless ways to use it. While replacing traditional meetings, the platform also allows you to save and record everything that happens in your innovation space so nothing gets forgotten. It substitutes and builds upon the classic whiteboard to support creativity and connect ideas together.

Visual organization

Meetings and lectures often hinge on auditory information and plain presentations, while other types of data organization might involve spreadsheets, documents, or additional files. A digital whiteboard incorporates unique visual elements and provides more options for arranging ideas. Many people thrive using visual learning methods, and a whiteboard is the perfect space to explore topics and make plans you can see.

Visual presentations can improve understanding and maximize engagement, especially when paired with interactive components. You can use them to tell a story, draw people in, and provide a dynamic, evolving experience.

Visual organization tactics can be especially useful when working with unstructured content, like comments, pictures, and other hard-to-quantify information. An online meeting whiteboard lets you make sense of this content and use it to drive new ideas. It can help you create actionable insights by connecting these resources in one space through engaging elements.

Uses for a virtual whiteboard

A digital whiteboard has many functions that span everyday tasks and groundbreaking innovations. It can even jump back and forth between different purposes — one day it could be your brainstorming hub, the next, your project planning space. Here are some ways you can use this type of platform.

1. Remote project planning tool

A virtual shared whiteboard supports different planning ideologies and adapts to nearly any workflow. Create flowcharts, to-do lists, chats, and more to successfully map out and execute projects of all types.

2. Visual aid for presentations

Usher your viewers through engaging presentations with visually appealing and interactive elements. A virtual whiteboard gives you extensive options. Instead of a simple doodle on a physical board, you can play a video to explain a complicated topic or test your participants' knowledge with a poll.

3. Brainstorming hub

Teams can exchange ideas and brainstorm easily with a virtual whiteboard

Bring everyone together into one place with no limitations. Since a whiteboard allows multiple people to join from anywhere, it provides the perfect setting for building off of each other's ideas and connecting in new ways. Whether your team wants to jot down ideas on virtual sticky notes, doodle rough drafts, or innovate in another way, a digital whiteboard can make it possible.

4. Mind mapping space

Virtual whiteboards and mind maps make an excellent match. Build out your mind map as far as you want with a blank, infinitely large canvas and intuitive online whiteboard tools. People can add items, connect them to other resources, tag colleagues, and explore ideas for a running start on any project.

5. Onboarding tool

An online whiteboard is a great place to store information for new hires and clients. You can guide them through the process with entertaining, interactive elements and help them find resources with rich connectivity to videos, web pages, files, and more. The infinite space allows you to add pages and information as your business evolves.

How to start using a virtual whiteboard

When it comes to using a remote whiteboard, plan how you'll use it, show your people how to use it, and save your meetings

Before you dive into using a remote whiteboard, a little preparation can help you make the most of this powerful resource.

Plan ahead

Start with a roadmap for what you'll be doing with your virtual shared whiteboard. Identify your goals for the session. For instance, if you're hosting a stand-up meeting, you might want your team to walk away with a clear understanding of their immediate action items. A brainstorming session may be better served with new directions for creative work.

If you want to create or assign deliverables with your whiteboard, identify them beforehand. Define your goals for each session and create a rough outline of your activities, including estimated time frames. You don't need to be especially strict, but a guideline can help you stay on track and keep your goals in mind.

You'll also need to consider implementation from a broader point of view. Determine how you can best use a digital whiteboard in your workflow and what kind of changes it might require.

Teach your team members to use it

As with any new resource, your team needs to know how to use the virtual whiteboard. An intuitive platform should minimize any learning curve, but you can still help people make the most of the program. Create or share a user guide with basic instructions and walk them through the possibilities of a virtual whiteboard. Clarify what resources the whiteboard adds, such as a creative space or interactive planning tools.

Defining your expectations is key to training your people on an online digital whiteboard. Explain how you expect team members to use the tool. Should they create deliverables or simply explore new ideas? Will you be checking in on their progress or asking them to save their work? Communicate your expectations to ensure everyone stays on the same page. Clear expectations can also help people work together more effectively.

Record your meetings

Instead of simply clearing your whiteboard canvas for the next session, save it. Establish a process for storing your whiteboards and meetings. You might dedicate folders in your cloud-based content management tool to whiteboard recordings. Everyone should know where to find them and how to use them in the future. Your team can use these recordings to quickly find useful learning materials or create notes from prior meetings.

Recordings make it easy to retain all the details from the whiteboard session and allow everyone involved to repeatedly benefit from them.

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Collaborate with a digital whiteboard in the Content Cloud

**While we maintain our steadfast commitment to offering products and services with best-in-class privacy, security, and compliance, the information provided in this blogpost is not intended to constitute legal advice. We strongly encourage prospective and current customers to perform their own due diligence when assessing compliance with applicable laws.

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