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How to Launch a Brainstorm

There’s a whole different level of engagement when you don't just listen about a particular subject, but instead connect with the presentation at a visual level.

Have you ever seen one of those “whiteboard” animated videos? You know, the kind where there appears to be an actual human hand, holding a marker, and writing on a dry erase board or large pad of paper. Although it’s becoming more commonplace, the effect hasn’t been seen often enough yet to have turned into a cliché. There’s still something magical about watching what appears to be the hand of an actual person quickly and perfectly writing text, drawing and coloring images, and sketching out shapes and graphics. If you’ve ever seen this effect, you may have been under the impression that you were actually watching someone drawing live, so convincing is the illusion this software provides.

But, at the end of the day, is there any real value to this? Sure, it’s eye-catching and “cool”, but what kind of benefit is there to using a video animation software? Even the slickest computer tool never makes it past the gimmicky stage unless there’s a real, practical application for it. Investing time and money into acquiring and learning how to use such a software requires a justification for the investment. There needs to be a tangible result that brings appreciable outcomes in a way that’s not easily replicated by some other means. It’s in that light that “whiteboard” animated videos present an interesting advantage, and one that you possibly have never thought of before. It’s easy to dismiss that type of software as just “bells and whistles”, something that isn’t really necessary but is great to have.

So, what was it that captivated you the first time you saw a hand mysteriously drawing these amazing letters and images? The novelty and inherent technical sophistication of the software is absolutely compelling, but you’ll likely discover that there’s a moment where you stop being enamored with the tool and start to actually appreciate the content that’s being conveyed. And you may also discover that your interpretation of what’s being presented is unfolding in a way that seems to somehow be simultaneously unique and familiar. You’re captivated by seeing information being disseminated in a manner that you don’t encounter constantly, and yet there’s something almost reassuring about watching a hand drawing and writing as a supplement to whatever is being presented through the accompanying voiceover.

And therein lies the tremendous appeal of this type of tech. It’s innovative and attention-grabbing, but there’s also a connection to elements of the earliest and most formative years of our cognitive development, whether that was tracing the outlines of letters with our fingers or watching a teacher write out information from a lesson on a chalkboard at the front of the room. There’s a whole different level of engagement that occurs in scenarios where we’re not simply listening to someone discourse about a particular subject, but instead connecting with the presentation at a visual level. And stirring memories of learning environments from our youthful years can help us to open up to the presentation in a way we’re not likely to if it’s just another droning voiceover or a “talking head” reading from a script. The underlying familiarity with this presentation style can also serve as a catalyst for us to let our guard down and to open ourselves to possibilities that might not otherwise be something we gravitate toward.

In his book “Draw to Win”, Dan Roam presents the view that most people are visual learners, and that they’ll have a higher engagement and retention of what’s absorbed when digesting information presented in that way. When people are watching an animated hand writing and drawing, they might be initially tempted to dismiss what they’re seeing as being simplistic or even childish. But that underlying visual familiarity will make a lasting impression, and that can work very much to the benefit of anyone who’s faced with having to conceptualize something for others to comprehend. In our small businesses and nonprofits, we sometimes deal with complex, multi-layered streams of information, statistics, and other data that can be virtually impossible to convey to someone else in the organization, let alone to an outsider.

Animated whiteboard software can find a variety of uses in your company, irrespective of what you do or who you need to communicate with. Presenting in-house trainings to staff and volunteers can be drudgery for both the audience and the presenter, so using a software like this can immediately enliven things so that there’s a greater sense of relevancy and connection on the part of those receiving the information. You might find yourself in a position where you need to develop a comprehensive training for a particularly complex job. Although it’s true that you need to ensure that the highly technical components are provided, your intended audience will also be well served by an animation software that helps to distill all that complexity into something that really resonates and is easy to apprehend.

Who hasn’t doodled on a notepad, allowing their imagination to soar, exploring possibilities through the free-form expression of pen on paper? Using animated whiteboard software can help to stir that same kind of emotion. Suppose that you needed to engage teammates in a collaborative discussion to find a solution to some longstanding issue in your organization. You could provide handouts with facts and figures documenting the nature of the issue and proposed courses of action, but you could also approach the problem from a radically different perspective. What if you first presented those in attendance with a short, animated “drawing video” to outline the concept behind what you need to discuss? Without the constraints and distraction of dry, academic reports and stats to pore over, what if you launched everyone into a brainstorming session by letting them see text and images conveying the high-level view of the problem?

A similar benefit could be gleaned in those situations where you find it necessary to convey the essence of what your organization’s doing in a way that connects to and inspires colleagues from other entities, potential funders, or donors. People want to know what your organization’s origin story is, and if you can simplify the complex without somehow trivializing it, you can go far toward involving outsiders in the very core of what defines you as small business or nonprofit. That undercurrent of familiarity in the animated approach can also convey a sense of shared experience, the intangible yet very powerful dimension of “we’re all in this together”. It ultimately comes down to establishing what you want to communicate and then translating it in a way that not only draws people in, but also very much makes them want to stay.

If you’ve never given any real consideration to using animated whiteboard software, it could definitely be worth your while. The best approach in communication for our organizations will always be a holistic one, so keep that in mind regardless of what methods you opt to employ. Any tool can be useful but they’re certainly not all interchangeable. The greatest effectiveness comes from having a few good, diverse tools, and then understanding when to leverage them to the greatest effectiveness. Don’t use something just for the sake of being different – instead, use that differentiation to propel you into a deeper level of engagement. Be innovative as you learn the ins and outs of what you have at your disposal and you’ll be organically compelled to keep innovating.

There will always be some neat new piece of software coming down the pike. But if you can strike a healthy balance between properly equipping yourself and simply having something because it’s so cool to have, you’ll be well positioned to use your tools wisely and to create an amazing finished product.


If you'd like developing a video that speaks to your clients or employees, the team at ValorExcel can help! To book a Power Hour to discuss your video needs, visit or call us at 240-329-9387 today! Then, make sure you check our recent videos on YouTube by clicking HERE. Each episode is designed to inspire, empower, and transform you and/or your organization.

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