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How to use virtual whiteboards on Zoom and Microsoft Teams

Whiteboards in remote meetings can add another layer of collaboration by enabling users to visualize concepts. Learn how to use virtual whiteboards on Zoom and Microsoft Teams.

Virtual whiteboards are a commonly overlooked feature in Microsoft Teams and Zoom meetings. At this point, most office workers are comfortable and familiar with video meetings and have incorporated capabilities, like screen sharing, into their workflows. But some users see the virtual whiteboards built into their meeting platforms as an advanced feature and shy away from using them.

The truth is: Virtual whiteboards are simple to use and accessible enough even for the most novice video users. Many people are visual learners, and often, a quick sketch on a virtual whiteboard can better portray ideas and information. While standalone virtual whiteboard apps are available for more advanced ideation needs, some people just don't need all the bells and whistles in their virtual meetings.

How to use virtual whiteboards on Zoom and Microsoft Teams

The virtual whiteboards built into Teams and Zoom aren't complicated drawing tools. They are quite simple to use. To begin using a whiteboard during a meeting, users can launch the whiteboard through the same method of starting a screen-sharing session. Meeting participants will then be presented with a large white canvas to start freehand drawing.

There are some minor workflow differences between virtual whiteboards in Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but their basic functionality is the same. They both have a small toolbar with a few feature buttons to control your drawing tools. Common tools and features in both Zoom and Microsoft Teams whiteboards include the following:

  • pen and highlighters for freehand sketching
  • shapes and stamps
  • text boxes to type information
  • the ability to save the whiteboard at the end of the session

The Microsoft Teams whiteboard also offers a sticky notes feature that enables user to place a single note or a grid of multiple notes anywhere on the whiteboard. Sticky notes can be moved around during the course of a collaboration session. Microsoft also offers its whiteboard as a standalone app.

Zoom's built-in whiteboard offers a spotlight feature for the user who launched the shared whiteboard, which enables the user to turn the cursor into an arrow, spotlight or vanishing pen to highlight specific areas of the whiteboard for meeting participants. Zoom recently announced it will release an updated whiteboard experience with new features, such as sticky notes and comments. Zoom will offer a beta of the new whiteboard later this year.

Regardless of whether you use Zoom or Microsoft Teams for meetings, you can familiarize yourself with their built-in whiteboards by starting a meeting with yourself to practice and learn all the drawing options. Don't be afraid to add a little collaborative drawing -- and perhaps more clarity -- to your next team meeting by opening up the whiteboard.

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