My monthly tip for virtual leaders: sketching during online meetings

Use your white board like you would use the flipchart in a room

Since the start of the pandemic and the push for home office work, virtual working and therefore online meetings are the new normal. When discussing the situation with virtual leaders and their experience with online meetings of their teams, one issue pops up very often:

“Using the whiteboard in Zoom, WebEx or other similar platforms doesn’t feel as flexible and creative as the flipchart or whiteboard in a real room feels.”

When exploring this point with people in more detail it becomes clear that they consider the whiteboard as a good functionality to record some input or collect ideas typed in by people participating in their meetings. However, when it comes to drawing something on the whiteboard, like they would on a flipchart in a real room, it feels quite awkward, if not impossible, using the mouse. It is almost impossible for a sketch not to appear ridiculous.

Can the whiteboard be used in a flipchart way?

Yes, it can! Over the recent months, the number of discussions and exchanges of ideas has grown exponentially – how to best lead over distance, work in a virtual context or run online meetings and workshops in the best way. Of course, you learn more every time you discuss these aspects with other people. So, in a more recent discussion I came across a very neat idea about how you can use the whiteboard in your online platform to illustrate something, hand drawn, like on the flipchart in the ‘old days’.

The magic of the tablet

All you need is an additional tablet / iPad or a laptop that can be used as a tablet.

sketching on a tablet instead of a flipchart

With that you join your online meeting with an alias. Whenever you want to use the whiteboard, i.e. in Zoom via screen share, you do that via the tablet. Then you can draw with a special pen whatever you want to illustrate.

A pen you can use to sketch on tablets during online meetings

The tricky bit comes with the fact that when writing/sketching you normally rest your hand on the surface you draw on. Now, on a screen that would potentially leave smudge traces where your hand rests. At least this is what I found out when I tried it with an android-based tablet and the touchscreen of my Windows-based convertible laptop.

For iPad users this doesn’t seem to be much of an issue, as the iPad seems to recognize the difference between pen and hand and will only ‘take’ the pen signals.

However, I found a simple solution for me as well: I now use a small piece of microfiber cloth I put my hand on (see photo above). This way, no traces are left on the whiteboard except what I draw with that special pen.

Do you have clever ideas too?

Feel free to share any good ideas in the comments below you might have come across in this context and how you have managed to improve the experience of online meetings from your home office.

Or don’t hesitate to get in touch with me and we can discuss all kinds of ways how to handle online meetings successfully and effectively.

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