Make Whiteboard Videos that Rock

game_plan_whiteboard_1600_clr_36162014 is shaping up to be the year of the whiteboard video.

High end animation (think Disney) has always been appealing, but it is also labor intensive, time-consuming and generally expensive; that level of animation was out of reach for the average small business.

A few years ago, simple animated storytelling became possible at a more affordable price. Online programs like Videoscribe, Go Animate and Powtoon started the trend with lower cost tools that anyone could use to produce doodle-style animations and cartoons without any graphic art training or video production experience.

This year has seen the release of even more animation and sketch video programs with more features.  The list of tools includes VideoMaker FX, Easy Sketch Pro and the newest one. Explaindio.

graph_explanation_visualsFor decades, coaches, business people and professors have made presentations on physical whiteboards. By combining images with the words they were saying, the presenters could illustrate and reinforce their ideas, making it easier for people to understand concepts. There is more than one learning style and involving multiple senses aids the learning process, helping students absorb and retain information better.


For most online video today, the goal is “info-tainment” and animation and sketch videos can deliver that, making even a dry subject more interesting to watch. But while these new tools make the work of creating a whiteboard video easier, they won’t help you develop the content for your videos. It’s still up to you to to craft a story and skillfully choose and weave words and images into an effective video.

This is where creative professionals have the edge because their business is storytelling. They know what it takes to tell a good story visually, how to condense and simplify complex topics, how to deliver a persuasive marketing message and the elements that motivate people watching a video to take action.

The most popular use of the whiteboard is for an “explainer” video, but there are certainly other storytelling possibilities. Adding fun images and a bit of humor can make almost any message stand out.

For example, using animation can make a sensitive subject easier to tackle visually than live action video.  I remember a public service announcement on TV about depression a few years ago.  It featured rounded stick figure characters to explain this complex topic and presented important mental health information in an engaging way. I don’t know if I would have remembered the message so clearly, if the video had used actors, just like every other PSA.


  • Advertising – Whiteboard presentations can make great commercials online and on TV. Remember the old UPS whiteboard commercials from a few years ago?
  • Marketing – Use whiteboard video stories on your website, on sales pages, landing pages, on your YouTube channel, on social media, etc.
  • Learning –  this video style lends itself to delivering education and training.  Animation can add visual punch and sizzle to all kinds of instruction.  Your video can even have the same look and feel as a classroom presentation, but you don’t have to stand in front of a camera!
  • Entertainment – tell a funny story, produce an online cartoon series, create an animated skit with a unique character or take viewers on a fantastic adventure featuring your own Super Heroes. Animation and sketch videos can free your stories (and your imagination) from the limitations of the real world.


  1. Keep it short. In general, 1 – 3 minute online videos work best.
  2. Don’t just jump into the software. Plan out your project step-by-step with a script and/or a storyboard. Work out the entire story – beginning, middle and end – on the computer or on paper before you begin. Planning saves time and produces better results.
  3. Avoid too much information.  Resist the urge to stuff everything into one video.  You will confuse the viewer or worse yet, BORE your audience. Less is more. Include only enough information and images to deliver the message concisely and succinctly.
  4. If you are dealing with data, don’t make it all about the numbers, facts and figures. Include some attention-grabbing images and  “wow” information or you will put the audience to sleep.
  5. You do not have to try to match a picture to every word you say. In TV, we’re taught a storytelling approach called “touch and go.” You reference something both in your words and pictures and then can talk about something unrelated to the image.  Make another word/image “touch” anchor and go on again, and again, as the story unfolds.
  6. Study other whiteboard presentations.  A quick online search or visit to YouTube will uncover dozens of examples. Look for videos in your niche. Take note of what you like and don’t like and keep those things in mind as you create your own videos.


I don’t recommend whiteboard video as the only type of video you use. Mix it up. A steady diet of one thing, no matter how clever, is bound to lose its effectiveness over time.

Plus trends and fads come and go. Right now whiteboard videos are all the rage online and you see them everywhere on the Internet but you rarely see that style used on TV anymore, even though that UPS whiteboard commercial was hot about 7 years ago.

Still these new animation programs are relatively easy to use.  If you want to take a stab at making your own simple videos, they are worth a try.

Are you using whiteboard animation or sketch video or thinking about doing it?  What are your challenges?  Please leave a comment.

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Janet Vasil

On-Camera, Speaker & Media Coach/Trainer at Vasil Media Group | Your Media Moment & Beyond
Communication Coach, Media Trainer & Founder Janet Vasil is a former award-winning, EMMY®-nominated TV Journalist who helps rising and future business leaders communicate with courage and charisma on-camera, and off. Contact at

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