Learn How to Whiteboard: 5 Simple (But Very Useful) Whiteboard Techniques
The whiteboard is becoming an increasingly popular medium in the business world today – and with good reason. Many of us are visual learners, and when you’re competing with smartphones and laptops for your audience’s attention, you need all the help you can get.
But just because it’s being used more frequently doesn’t mean that everyone knows how to whiteboard or is comfortable with the medium. The idea itself might make you nervous, or your business culture may not embrace the idea (or even own a whiteboard)!
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Whether you’re surrounded by pros at whiteboard techniques or entering new territory, there are two “Golden Rules” that are crucial to success.
- Slow down! Most of us have a natural tendency to rush through whiteboarding. Maybe you’re afraid of “boring” people as you draw, or you just get excited about an idea – whatever the reason, you’ll find that the quality of your output improves when you slow down a bit. Lines are cleaner. Objects look better. You’re forced to really consider how you are going to express the idea.
- Practice! Many of us take for granted our ability to write on a whiteboard – after all, that’s what elementary school students do every day, right? But if you’ve tried doing long multiplication recently, you know that even simple tasks are not so easy when you’re out of practice.
I’ve been fortunate to be surrounded by very talented whiteboarders; I’ve had to practice just to keep up! I recommend that you start by practicing plain old text. Go slow and focus on making each word look great.
5 Killer Whiteboard Techniques
Got that down? Great! Then move on to these 5 killer whiteboard techniques. Once you master these, you’ll be ready for your next presentation.
Arrows are critical for effective whiteboarding. They allow you to communicate movement and flow, yet most people just draw a line with a triangle at the end: boring! That’s the equivalent of drawing a stick figure – not very compelling. Want to make an impact? Easy! Just draw the outline of an arrow. It doesn’t take much longer than the “stick figure” version, and it can be very simple or complex, depending on your skill level.
You may be surprised by how often this whiteboard technique helps you to convey a message. Clouds can represent a demand. You can write concepts or ideas inside a cloud to group them together. And of course, just like in a comic book, you can use them to denote when a person (or object) needs to be associated with text. Find a style that works for you, and keep it in your arsenal when presenting.
A stacked triangle is like a layer cake, allowing you to show the many levels of a project, infrastructure, or concept, as well as highlight percentages that make up a whole. Add labels to the side for clarity and shade different areas of the triangle for emphasis.
This is my go-to whiteboard object. Once you start thinking in funnels, it seems like everything is a nail, and the funnel is the hammer. It can show all kinds of business concepts – from sales, marketing, ROI, conversion rate, you name it. They’re simple to create and fun to practice.
In every organization, people play a key role, so you need to be able to represent them on a whiteboard. They’re useful for organizational charts, HR concepts, and customer data. You’ll need to master drawing an icon for a single person as well as multiple people together. And don’t forget: stick figures are a no go!
Of course, these 5 whiteboard techniques are just a jumping off point. Each person has their own style. The key to finding your own is practicing and having fun!
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