Our top virtual whiteboard tools
When we communicate in a meeting, visualisation plays a huge role in whether the participants understand the message we are trying to convey. Conducting sessions virtually challenges the classical jam session where we use whiteboards with a pen or coloured cards for writing and visualising discussions while they take place.
In a virtual session, we cannot “just” write or draw by hand, and thus the possibility of collaborating visually quickly becomes less flexible. We do not know about your virtual drawing skills, but we find it quite difficult. However, there are a lot of tools out there you can use to create a virtual whiteboard.
Microsoft Teams includes a whiteboard option, but there are also other tools available for recreating the flexibility of a whiteboard jam session. Actually, virtual whiteboards can be even more effective than analogue whiteboards as everything is captured in a virtual space, which means that you can also use them before and after sessions.
When choosing virtual tools, we usually suggest the following key principle: use what you have and what you know (this applies to you as facilitator as well as the participants). However, if you are not sure which tool to use or want to compare the tool you are already using with other options, we have created a list of the top virtual whiteboard tools we use, describing the pros and cons below.
As stated in our book “Virtual facilitation”, there is no one tool for creating a virtual whiteboard. All tools have their pros and cons, and you should choose it based on how well it supports the purpose of your session.
Please remember that introducing a new tool always poses an entry barrier to you and your participants.
Microsoft Whiteboard is a free app you can download from Microsoft Store, which works well for basic needs. It has a built-in feature in Microsoft Teams, but if you open Microsoft Whiteboard from Microsoft Teams, it has very limited features. Therefore, if you want to use Microsoft Whiteboard in a Microsoft Teams meeting, we recommend that all participants download the Microsoft Whiteboard app before the meeting.
Overall, Microsoft Whiteboard is ideal if you want a quick whiteboard solution with basic functions for your business and if your whole team installs the application.
You can find the Microsoft Whiteboard app here.
Google Jamboard is a quick and easy cloud-based interactive whiteboard software that you enter via your Google account. The tool is very easy to use and has basic features such as sticky notes, drawing, adding pictures etc. Multiple users can join Google Jamboard online to edit and view it simultaneously, which makes it great for collaboration.
Google Jamboard is part of Google Workspace (formerly G Suite), and therefore any board you make is automatically saved on your Google Drive and is easy to store in the right place.
Overall, Google Jamboard is ideal if your business already uses Google Workspace or if you are looking for instant access to a whiteboard.
Padlet is a cloud-hosted online bulletin board. It is designed to help people collaborate, reflect, share links and distribute content instantly in a shared environment. The software is a user-friendly digital “wall” where you can post content and embed the walls in your websites, utilise them via links or post them on different social media networks.
Padlet serves as a sheet of paper where you can place images, videos, texts and documents together with anyone, anywhere using any device. It helps you create a compelling and easy-to-read board, document and web page that you can share with others.
Overall, Padlet is ideal if you quickly want to capture and share content with internal and external participants.
Get an introduction to Padlet on YouTube
Get started with Padlet
Miro is a collaborative whiteboarding platform for distributed and remote teams. As a user, you are presented with an infinite blank canvas, which you can fill up with smart widgets for any type of collaborative work. Miro has templates, folders, communication tools and integration with many apps to provide a complete productivity solution.
Miro is ideal if you have recurring team meetings in your business and you want all the features of an analogue whiteboard. You can use Miro for everything from simple workshops to advanced project teams.
You can use a shared PowerPoint document as a virtual whiteboard if your organisation already uses Microsoft Office 365. You simply create an online PowerPoint presentation in Microsoft Office 365 and share the presentation with the participants who need access to the jam session.
By using a shared PowerPoint presentation as a virtual whiteboard, you get all the features you already know from Microsoft PowerPoint, and thus it is easy for most people to contribute to the whiteboard.
PowerPoint 365 is ideal if you are already using Microsoft Office 365 in your business or if you are looking for instant access to a whiteboard.
Link to more inspiration for PowerPoint
We hope this provided you with some inspiration for which virtual whiteboard tools to use.
If you want to know more about how to design and execute a virtual session, you may be interested in reading our book “Virtual facilitation”.
We have collected additional materials for the book Virtual Facilitation.
The value-oriented digital operating model
How you design a value-oriented digital operating model that maximises business value.
Implement Consulting Group