Depending on which of the origin stories you lean towards, whiteboards have been around since either the 1950s or the 1960s. What is sure is that they began life as educational tools before finding their way into offices and boardrooms. Easier to use and maintain than their chalk-based counterparts, you’ll find them in most schools and workplaces nationwide. However, not everyone is using them to their full potential. If you want to know how to use a whiteboard and make the most of it, here’s our handy guide.
Choose your weapons
If you need to make a whiteboard presentation but don’t own one, the first step is deciding which one is best for you. To do this, you’ll need to consider a few things, starting with the size of the room you will likely be presenting in. If you’re in a small classroom, or meeting room, you can opt for a smaller board, such as the Nobo Non-Magnetic Wall Mount Whiteboard. However, if you’re dealing with dozens of delegates at a time, you’ll need something bigger, such as the Avansas Non-Magnetic Hanging Whiteboard.
While giving everyone in the room the chance to see the information you’re displaying, one of the key advantages to a whiteboard presentation is the flexibility involved. Using a whiteboard, you can evolve ideas and take suggestions from your attendees, which can also
impact the board size you choose. Ideally, you need room for your core information to remain seen, acting as an anchor for the theme of your presentation. However, you may also need extra space to accommodate the thoughts and comments made by your audience. As a rule of thumb, the more notes you’re likely to make during your presentation, the larger the space you’ll need to write on.
Keep it clean
Adaptability is another important part of learning how to use a whiteboard. Browse our collection, and you’ll find those made from glass, metal, and even porcelain. The question here is which one best suits your needs. In basic terms, the less absorbent the surface you’re writing on, the easier it will be to clean and maintain. However, there is some debate about which material offers the most benefits. Boards like the Nobo Magnetic Wall Mount Whiteboard are made from slightly porous steel.
To offer a superior writing surface, the finish on these boards is a non-porous coating. Made from steel, this also gives them the added benefit of being able to accept magnetic accessories, helping to keep your presentation area free from clutter and all those important bits and bobs close to hand.
Glass whiteboards like the Leitz Cosy Glass Magnetic Whiteboard take things up a notch. Made from tempered glass, they’re resistant to scratching and, because glass is completely non-porous, easy to clean. When used with the correct markers, there’s no residue left behind, so you’ll always be free from the ‘ghosts’ of previous presentations haunting your freshly made notes and diagrams. However, it’s worth noting that while it’s not porous in any shape or form, glass is a reflective surface. Holding your whiteboard presentation in a room with low-hanging or angled lights might cause problems for anyone trying to read what you’ve written. In addition, this can make glass whiteboards tricky to use along with projectors.
In contrast, porcelain whiteboards are non-reflective and offer excellent cleanability. On top of that, their matt finish ensures that everything written on the board is visible without any trouble. The only drawback to these, and their glass cousins, is their weight. Tempered glass and porcelain are heavy materials, which could make them unsuitable for certain walls. By comparison, steel whiteboards are much lighter and are suitable for most walls, including plasterboard and MDF. Some models are so light that they only need to be fixed to the wall using corner mounts, ensuring that your board sits straight and true without putting unnecessary stress on its surroundings.
Carry it through
Portability is one of the most overlooked considerations when choosing a whiteboard. Whether for budgetary reasons or space is of a premium in your workplace, mounting a whiteboard to a wall might not be possible. Portable whiteboards, such as the Avansas Non-Magnetic Easel Board, offer the chance to move your board between rooms and, if you buy one of the smaller models, between venues. Alternatively, models such as the Avansas Non-Magnetic Mobile Flipchart Easel Whiteboard are set on casters, removing the need to fold down your easel only to resurrect it in its new surroundings.
Don’t forget the details
Once you’ve decided on the board, you need a quick checklist of the accessories you’ll need for your perfect whiteboard presentation. Whiteboard markers are an absolute must. Markers, such as the Bic Velleda ECOlutions Whiteboard Markers use a silicone polymer in place of conventional ink. Boasting an oily substance that remains on the whiteboard’s surface without sinking or soaking into it, the Bic Whiteboard Marker is easy to wipe away without leaving any stains or residue.
With your markers chosen, it’s time to look at your preferred type of eraser. If you’ve settled on a magnetic board, buying magnetic accessories, such as the Nobo Magnetic Whiteboard Eraser Blue makes sense. These often come with plastic guards, to keep your hands free from ink during the cleaning process, and save you the trouble of hunting around looking for a cloth or wipe at the critical moment. However, suppose your whiteboard isn’t magnetic. In that case, we offer a variety of erasers, including dry wipes, which you can hang on the wall next to the board, and refillable plastic erasers, which use layers of felt to ensure that your whiteboard is wipeable clean every time.
If you plan to use a variety of pens, magnetic accessories, and wipes, it might be worth ensuring that the board you choose comes with an accessory tray built in. These allow you to access what you need, just when needed.
Remember your role
Preparation is only part of learning how to use a whiteboard. While standing in front of a group of people and writing up key points or drawing diagrams might seem unnecessary in the 21st Century, research has found that at least 65% of the population are visual learners. This means that, by supporting your words with text and diagrams, concepts are easier for your delegates to understand and, crucially, easy to remember.
In addition, a whiteboard presentation allows your audience to be involved. Whether you allow your audience to come up and write on the board or do it on their behalf, a group that is allowed to contribute feels more engaged and takes ownership of their suggestions and ideas. With the facility to wipe away notes at any moment, whiteboards can be especially useful in brainstorming and problem-solving sessions. Your whiteboard presentation invites everyone in the room to feel part of something instead of feeling that they’re just being lectured. However, as the person leading the presentation, your job is to ensure that any information is communicated in the best way to achieve the best possible impact.
Rehearse, rehearse, rehearse
Have you ever considered you might suffer from glossophobia? If so, you’re not alone. Glossophobia is the fear of public speaking, and, according to research, around 77% of the population suffers to varying degrees. However, this can range from those pre-match nerves to full-blown anxiety. If you’ve been chosen or elected to lead a whiteboard presentation, you’re likely to be comfortable with the idea, although you might experience butterflies in advance. The best way to overcome your nagging doubts is to rehearse your piece, whether at home in your living room or in the room you’re going to be working in. From setting up to taking down, walk and talk through every aspect of your demonstration so that you know what will happen and at which point. It can also be worth setting a stopwatch to ensure that your overall timings are correct and your presentation doesn’t run over or under your allotted slot.
Mind your language
If presenting to a roomful of delegates still gives you the cold sweats, here are a few tips and tricks to make you look like you know exactly what you’re doing – even if you feel you don’t!
- The four Ps: Projection, Pitch, Pace, and Pauses. In essence, you want to be loud enough to be heard, paced enough that people have enough time to absorb what you’re saying and leave enough space for your points to impact. In short, don’t rush it and give your words room to breathe.
- Make eye contact. While the temptation might be to try and see your audience as a faceless crowd, making eye contact can reap dividends. Not only does it give you an air of confidence, but it also makes each person feel that much more engaged. If you’re making your whiteboard presentation to hundreds of people, trying to catch the eye of everyone present is going to be impossible. However, contact of around two seconds between yourself and individual audience members can cement that feeling that, although you’re in charge, you’re acknowledging and valuing the presence of everyone else in the room.
- Fake it ’til you make it. A field of psychology known as embedded cognition, has found that our body language can significantly impact how we feel about ourselves. Even if you’re feeling nervous, standing with your feet shoulder-width apart can help to shake off those nerves. Known as the ‘leadership stance,’ it communicates authority and confidence to your attendees while making you feel more comfortable in your role. Similarly, should you feel the need to pace, do it as confidently and as measuredly as possible. Trapsing back and forth can communicate stress and nerves while making you feel even more anxious.
What’s my line?
Even the most experienced presentation leaders have their off days. These situations can affect anyone, from fumbling over their words to forgetting what they’re supposed to discuss. A simple trick to ensure that you always stay on track is to write down key points, phrases, or memory joggers on sticky notes and paste them along the bottom edge of your whiteboard. While they won’t be big enough for anyone else to read, you’ll be able to see them should you need them, and they won’t intrude on the content you’re writing up. Alternatively, use magnetic note holders, such as the Nobo Rare Earth Magnets, to stick your prompts to the board at places relevant to what you’re saying. Having rehearsed your whiteboard presentation, you should have a good idea of what you’ll be writing or drawing when and can place those notes on parts of the board that are easy to read, just at the right moment.
The write stuff
Take a moment or two to consider your handwriting as part of your rehearsal. If your cursive is hard to read, write in capitals. It can be worth pulling in an outside eye to give your handwriting a quick assessment so you know that what you’re writing down is completely legible. It can also be worth checking the thickness of your whiteboard markers. In more expansive surroundings, those on the larger side, such as the Bic Velleda Large Tip Whiteboard Markers, will be far easier to see than those with finer nibs. Similarly, while you’re running through your presentation, step back to see which colours have the most visual impact and which might be harder to see. If any are past their sell-by or don’t quite cut the mustard according to your environment, consider ordering replacements or cutting them entirely.
Ultimately, getting yourself into the right mindset for your presentation is key to ensuring it goes well. With the right equipment already in place and knowing how to use a whiteboard properly, you can give yourself permission to enjoy what you’re doing and enjoy being the star of the show. Good luck!