October 14, 2020

Add a Whiteboard to your Online Meetings

Stas Balanevsky

Do you miss your whiteboard?

I tend to draw to get my point across; I always have. In this new normal of zoom, skype, hangout, zoho, etc., I had lost my ability to illustrate AND see the participants at the same time. Thankfully I figured it out... here is my solution:

Hardware Setup:

Computer with a webcam. I use a 13" MacBook Pro at home and a Mac mini with a cinema display at the office.

Tablet. I use an iPad Pro but any capable tablet will do as long as it can run your conferencing software.

Headphones. I use a pair of Beats Solo3.

Software Setup:

Computer: Conferencing app. I prefer to use the native app instead of the web interface for all of my conferencing platforms. Links below:

Tablet: Conferencing app. You should use the native app because it will allow for fast app switching which will be an important feature during your conference.

Notes App: This is your whiteboard software and needs to be installed on your tablet. I have used many but I will list my top 3 in order of preference with their download links and some notes on how to use them.

  1. Notability $8.99 iOS only - A great app that I recently discovered (hat tip to my 17 year old). This has become my go-to app because of the flexibility, the perpetual scroll and automatic "paper feed" and the ability to send out the whiteboard immediately after a meeting. A perfect blend of whiteboard and note taking ability.
  2. Evernote iOS | Android - A comprehensive suite of products that integrate very nicely. Set up more as a note taking app, document scanner, and web clipper; Evernote is powerful but not as elegant as Notability.
  3. Paper iOS | Android - A beautiful drawing app with lots of pen, pencil, and brush options for the more artistically inclined. I love this app but it just isn't as practical as the other two.

How to:

Here is how I set up my sessions to maximize interaction AND be able to use my whiteboard. I'll assume that your meeting has been scheduled or you are initiating the meeting and inviting everyone to join so I will not describe that process. Make sure you start this process about 10 minutes before your scheduled meeting time to make sure everything is running properly and you are ready to go on time.

  1. Launch your meeting app on your computer and start the meeting.
  2. Close all apps on your tablet and turn your volume all the way down to 0 and turn on "do not disturb" mode.
  3. Launch the notes app on your tablet and set up a new note with the proper title
  4. Launch the meeting app on your tablet and join the meeting with audio muted (in the meeting app) and video off.
  5. Click on "Share Content" on your tablet and select "Screen"
  6. Click on "Start Broadcast" on your tablet. You will get a countdown 3...2...1... In that time, switch to your notes app.

The screen on your computer should look like this:

Ready for meeting participants.

As people join your meeting, you will see them appear on your computer screen and you can get your meeting started. Remember to turn off your whiteboard often and connect with your participants.

BONUS: I often run PowerPoint on my tablet and switch between the notes app and the deck I am presenting. I prefer running PowerPoint on the tablet because it does not take over the meeting and I can still see the participants in the meeting.

I hope this helps... I hope your families are home safe and you are working ON your business.