By their very nature, whiteboard walls enhance meeting effectiveness due to their large, open, inviting surfaces, great accessibility, and easy erasability. The fact that whiteboard painted surfaces extend from floor to ceiling and from corner to corner in your office, classroom, clinic, or other venue makes them accessible to any team member of any size or physical skill level. At meetings, this means that your staff should feel welcome to freely express their ideas without fear of having to erase one part of their text and then write the next part due to the size limitations of the surface, as they might with traditional framed whiteboards. It also means that meeting participants who may not normally feel at ease speaking their views in meetings, such as those who are shy, new to the team, or of lower rank in the office hierarchy, will feel less inhibited and more willing to share their opinions when confronted with the open, engaging canvas of a whiteboard painted wall.
So-called smart markers are standard dry erase markers (preferably of the low-odor variety) that have been placed in a smart sleeve, which is linked electronically to a sensor to your whiteboard painted wall’s surface. The smart marker sleeve is a device that can store digitized dry erase marker writings and drawings in its internal memory, thus creating a high-tech means to make your meetings more collaborative and successful by streaming the contents created on your whiteboard painted wall in real-time to those in attendance. In addition, the sleeve can spontaneously stream the proceedings of your meeting to other people with the appropriate smartphone apps or computer software located anywhere in the world. The device can also sync data to cloud services, making your gatherings truly global in scope and adding a whole new dimension to the traditional concept of a staff meeting, seminar, conference, or brainstorming session.
PASS THE BUCK
Make sure that your meetings remain on schedule and keep moving along smoothly by having multiple team members write their ideas on your whiteboard wall in sequence. In this way, everyone can have a chance to use the smart markers for collaborative communication and group feedback on their creative suggestions. If you assign a specific length of time for presenting each item on your agenda, you will ensure that all of your team members seriously consider the items and whether there will be enough time to present them, especially if each item is to be discussed by a different team member. This technique reinforces a sense of responsibility and focus in your team and helps to make certain that everyone gets an opportunity to speak their piece while at the same time ensuring that the agreed-upon schedule for the meeting is not extended.
At the start of a meeting, you should ask the participants to agree that everyone will adhere closely to the day’s agenda of items. With a massive whiteboard painted wall on which to write and draw, you’ll be able to stay focused on the meeting’s agenda more effectively than you would if you were using the limited space of a traditional framed whiteboard. Because the wall’s huge surface area will allow you and all of your team to post your thoughts before the meeting and let people give input on one another’s ideas, you’ll know the agenda items ahead of time and will have given feedback about the most important topics to be discussed. In this way, any deviations from the sequence of the day’s agenda topics will be kept to a minimum, and a strong focus will be maintained throughout the session. If, after all of this planning, some unforeseen discussion subjects do come up, you can designate a specific “holding area” on your whiteboard wall where those ideas are written down for later discussion at another meeting.
You can also keep close watch on the time that has elapsed by periodically writing down the number of minutes remaining for the meeting on your whiteboard wall and reminding the team of the time by saying, for example, “I’m sorry to interrupt here, but there are … minutes left before we have to stop for the day.”
PLANNED LOSS OF CONCENTRATION
You can plan a short break during your meetings to minimize loss of concentration and reduce disorganized thinking among the staff members in attendance. Issues with maintaining focus generally result from fatigue, a sense of tedium, and over-expenditure of mental energy among participants. In tasks like participating in meetings or conferences that require a great deal of concentration and the ability to grasp numerous details, people’s ability to focus is always affected. So scheduling a brief break period of a specific length during a meeting can refresh everyone’s mind, allowing for better comprehension of agenda items and a more productive flow of ideas afterward.
STOP – WHEN THE TIME IS UP, IT IS UP
It’s important to always call a halt to your meetings at the agreed-upon time. Then communicate with your team members to find out if they understood and agreed with the main points discussed and if they have any last-minute additions to make or issues they feel still need to be resolved. The large surface area of your whiteboard painted wall should allow you to record all of the major agenda items and team members’ comments and reactions during the meeting so that such eleventh-hour observations or questions will be easier and more efficient to deal with after the meeting has ended.
Toward the conclusion of the meeting, two key questions to ask yourself and your team members are (1) whether you feel that all of the meeting’s major agenda topics were covered, and (2) if there are any more topics to consider, what steps need to be taken to address them now that the meeting is over.
In addition, after the meeting, if no decisions were finalized and no tasks or projects for implementation were assigned to team members, you might also contemplate the usefulness of the meeting. As time is money, productive business gatherings call for effective ways to make sure that the hours or minutes you spend collaborating aren’t squandered. The following are some ideas on how to efficiently close your meetings: (1) briefly review the decisions that were made at the session either by writing them down on your whiteboard painted wall or by stating them orally; (2) go over all the duties assigned to be accomplished by your team; and (3) list the team members involved and the completion dates. It might be even more effective to ask individual team members to share with the team the specific tasks they were assigned to complete, thus ensuring they are on target and willingly accept their assigned projects.
Make sure that everyone will be ready to participate in your meeting at the agreed-upon starting time by posting a reminder on your whiteboard painted wall a day or two in advance. With its huge canvas, the wall can be used to write the message in over-sized letters so that your team members will definitely get the communication about when to start gathering.
THE INTERACTIVE AGENDA
During meetings, note-taking software and apps can be of great help to you and your team members because they allow you to record text and drawings produced on your whiteboard painted wall that can be easily distributed electronically to the meeting participants and other team members anywhere in the world for whom the agenda items are relevant. In this way, your smart dry erase marker combined with your whiteboard wall can allow your international staff members to feel like they’re right in the office, as they can see and take notes on your agenda items and thus stay connected with what’s happening with the team in real-time.
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