Hosting a meeting can sometimes feel like pulling teeth or herding cattle. It’s not always easy directing a strategy meeting or hosting a brainstorming session. It’s often a fight for focus and a battle for collaboration.

One tool that has proven time and time again to be a great asset in meetings is the whiteboard.

These simple contraptions can drive effectiveness in meetings for a handful of reasons:

Whiteboards Create Focus

As the keeper of the whiteboard, you can help prevent chaos. It only takes one rogue participant to throw a group brainstorm totally off track. Start by writing the goal, purpose, or question that needs to be answered on the whiteboard. This can help focus even your most tangent-prone colleagues.

With A Whiteboard You Can Erase as You Go

Most meetings are bound to shift gears, move on, or abandon certain points. If something on the whiteboard is no longer useful to the conversation, erase it. Removing unnecessary information will help keep the group focused and reduce rabbit trails and distractions that are not necessary.

Whiteboard Meetings Allow You to Organize Your Brainstorms

Once the discussion gets going, you may discover that thoughts and ideas naturally fall into categories. Organizing ideas in columns or sections of the whiteboard can provide a helpful visual aid for the group. If a project needs a step by step process, you can draw out that process and even go back and add steps in if you give yourself enough space.

Whiteboards Give You The Ability To Politely Redirect Discussion

People are bound to bring up ideas, projects, and issues that have nothing to do with the topic that’s being discussed. Whether you truly want to save that idea for a future discussion, or you simply want to appease the contributor, a whiteboard “parking lot” can be helpful. Simply partition off a section on one of the whiteboard corners and jot down any points that fall outside of the meeting’s goals. The idea is to revisit the parking lot items at later, more appropriate time.

Just one final quick tip when hosting a whiteboard meeting… capture your whiteboard session with a photo. Before anyone has a chance to wipe away all of your work, use your phone’s camera to snap a quick photo and email it to all of the attendees. Nothing’s worse than losing the fruits of a brilliant brainstorm to a well-meaning cleaning crew. Follow these basic tips and you’ll be asked to manage the whiteboard at every meeting.

A Whiteboard Room Near You…

If the space you currently have doesn’t have a whiteboard, consider the option of an off-site meeting. There are numerous rental meeting spaces that offer whiteboards. The Day Offices in Bloomingdale actually offers a whiteboard room that can be rented by the hour.

So save yourself the frustration that you’ve experienced in the past. Circle your team around a whiteboard and let the brainstorm or planning session begin!