As I say in each post in this series, they’re not about the kind of drawing that is art. They are about the artistry of using a whiteboard to help move a meeting from confusion to conclusion. Quick, easy drawings in the service of that goal is what this series is all about.

This and the next part of the series cover the two types of drawings that will help you in that goal: “Nouns” and “Metaphors.”¬†While the terms “nouns” and “metaphors” evoke parts of speech, don’t get hung up on my visual grammar: Yes, I know that a metaphor can be a noun, and a noun can be a metaphor. But stick with this broad interpretation of the two terms: Nouns are actual things while metaphors serve as visual proxies for ideas, concepts, actions, etc. In part 4, I’ll show how the two work together to encourage and record the flow of a meeting.

Let’s get started:

Practice drawing simple shapes that you knew how to draw when you were 6 years old.


Just think of all the shapes that you can draw without any hesitation or concern that you aren’t an artist.

Combining simple shapes together is all it takes to “draw” first-grade whiteboard shapes.


When you start mashing-up shapes to create nous, you’ll start seeing the shapes in everyday things from the real world. When you do that, start sketching a collection of “simple shape objects.”

Start and keep a list of the “nouns” in your industry (or topic area).


You may want to have two lists: (1) Easy shapes (2) Challenging shapes

You’re not “cheating” if you review how others have created drawings of nouns using simple shapes.


Use Google image search with the following term “hand drawn icons.”

Practice the easy-shape nouns with a Moleskine sketch book.


Doodling in a Moleskine adds a bit of permanency and importance that doodling on the back of an envelope lacks.

The good news: You will discover there are 20 or so nouns in your subject area that are easy-to-draw mash-ups of simple shapes.


Tip 1: As soon as the shape you draw can be recognized by others, stop sketching.

Your only goal is to convey what the object is. There are no style points. And remember, if you draw something even you can’t recognize, label it.

Tip 2: Create a Pinterest board of simple line drawing resources.

Here’s ours:

Next up: You’ll find drawing metaphors as easy as drawing nouns. And they’re more fun.

Related Articles

Mastering the Whiteboard, Part 3: How to Draw Business Metaphors

Part 3 of’s Mastering the Whiteboard shows how to draw business metaphors with skills you learned in the first grade.

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.