Using Online Whiteboards for Virtual Meetings and Conference Calls

Online whiteboards can’t replace a flip chart and pen but adding a visual element to your conference calls can really improve the quality of communication and productivity of your meetings. Below are some common scenarios where online whiteboards can make a real difference.  In the examples I have used the real-time whiteboard and stickyboard features that are available as part of  the SmarterCalls cloud collaboration tools (standard on all conference calling packages see here  and here for more info).

Using an Online Whiteboard to Sketch out ideas

I am always drawing pictures to explain concepts or ideas,  in meetings I often draw on the whiteboard or in my notepad – online whiteboards let your do this in real-time with collaborators in multiple locations. The experience can be a little clunky when using the mouse to freehand draw (I use a wireless stylus pen),  our real-time whiteboard has features to help : a library of  standard shapes which can be ‘dragged and dropped’ and  ItelliDraw, which recognizes gestures as you freehand draw which automatically creates shapes. I have used online whiteboards for sketches to explain ideas, to demonstrate designs for print and web page layouts, to design processes (the IntelliDraw feature works great for this).

whiteboard  - schetching out an idea for a room

Using the smartercalls online whiteboard to discuss a design  for a room.

Using an Online Whiteboard to Review an Image or Design

Sharing an image or design with others to review is a common task for many professions e.g. architects, graphic designers, marketing creatives. With our online whiteboard you can upload an image and share with others in real-time. Collaborators or reviewers can annotate the image, add notes, comments and free hand sketch over the top.

Reviewing an image or design

Reviewing the design for a house using the online whiteboard.

Using a Sticky Board to Plan a Project

I have used sticky notes (or PostIt notes) for many years to plan projects in face-to-face workshops. Our sticky-board allows you to complete this during a conference call. A typical session would be work something like this:

  • As a group, brainstorm all of the major tasks that are required to complete your project and dump them on sticky-board (all of the collaborators can do this together at the same time).
  • Use a transparent sticky to create a  timeline or grid across the top of your sticky-board
  • Lay out your sticky notes onto the timeline thinking about the sequence, timing, dependencies, resources etc.
Using the stickyboard to brainstorming a plan.

Using the stickyboard to brainstorming a plan. Different colour stickies are used to show important tasks or issues to solve. Estimates are included in the text.

Using a Sticky Board for Problem Solving and Analysis

It is common to try and solve problems on conference calls or virtual meetings. There are many standard analysis techniques that can really help, I often use sticky notes when running workshops to do SWAT analysis, pros/cons, Venn diagrams etc. This can also be simulated in a virtual meeting by using a transparent sticky notes to create a grid and then either brainstorm or create stickies one by one adding them to the relevant sections,. Below are some examples using our sticky-board.

Using the stickyboard to complete a pros and cons analysis for a new job.

Using the stickyboard to complete a pros and cons analysis for a new job.

In summary, online whiteboards can be quite versatile and really work in conference calls or virtual meetings. Our real-time whiteboard and sticky-board is available with all of our packages (including our free packages) and come with many features to make the experience a real as possible.

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