This is Part 3 of a 4-part Guide called Mastering the Whiteboard With Skills You Learned in the First Grade, written and sketched by founder and head-helper Rex Hammock.

As in the previous parts of this series, “Mastering the Whiteboard,” I’ll remind you that “drawing” on a whiteboard for the purpose of helping improve the flow of a meeting or presentation isn’t the same as the “drawing” one does as a professional illustrator. These posts are entirely focused on creating and using the types of “easy-to-draw” shapes you mastered in the first grade–the only kind you need to help move along a whiteboard session.

(If you haven’t seen them, it might be helpful for you to first look at the earlier “Introduction” “Lettering” and “Drawing Nouns” posts. In those, I’ve included some tips for practicing those skills that apply to this this part, as well.)

This post focuses on drawing shapes that can serve as metaphors for the types of issues and subjects one uses in business planning or presenting. However, you can apply these tips to the types of metaphors used in education or any topic for which you use a whiteboard to plan or present.

As with nouns, you’ll want to start with sketching quick metaphors that are nothing more than simple shapes. Squares, triangles, ovals can easily fit together for a “starter kit” glossary of go-to, easy-to-draw metaphors for business planning and presentation sessions using a whiteboard. Here are some of mine to help you get started building your collection:



A watch face is the obvious (and easiest) symbol to use when you’re referring to a point in time. A river or road can work well for representing the flow or movement of time.



When referring to organizing a team, an org-chart icon conveys the idea. If you’d like to portray a flatter organization, try circle people in a circle.



To get started, some simple shaped metaphors for a goal include a finish line, trophy or bullseye. Others: A square with a ribbon to represent the “prize” or a simple exclamation point.

Challenges (or Obstacles)

obstaclesA mountain? Steps? Wall? See how easy this is.


choice_metaphor-3-2Why mess with the classic fork in the road or doors to choose?



Again, why mess with a universally understood symbol? Instead of the growth line, perhaps replace shapes with items found in your industry?



Speaking of universally understood, this visual metaphor was used so much on whiteboards, it spawned the term “cloud-computing.” Always use a cloud as the metaphor for the internet if someone from IT is in the room.



When it comes to the virtual type of network, keep it simple. If you are suggesting a network of people connected by the internet, here’s the way to go.

Next part: Organizing the whiteboard to get from start to productive finish in the fastest possible time. (Come up with your own metaphor to symbolize that.)

Mastering the Whiteboard, Part 4: Leading a Whiteboard Meeting

How to use simple whiteboard drawings and meeting techniques to make your whiteboard meetings more productive.

How to Turn Your Doodles Into Drawings Using Google’s New AutoDraw Tool

Can’t draw? Google’s AutoDraw thinks it can help.