Here we take our brainstorming seriously! But we also know that a good idea can come from anyone, anywhere and at any time of the day. So, when you are planning your next brainstorm, idea hurricane, brain dump, content create-a-thon — it never hurts to have a few tricks and tips up your sleeve. (Hint: Don’t take them too seriously!) Ready?
Take It Seriously
We couldn’t resist. But seriously, real work is happening, so, you know, be on time, have a plan, take some notes, and all that good stuff.
As a warm-up exercise, everyone shares something they saw in the last week that they thought was cool and noteworthy (not necessarily relevant to the brainstorm topic).
Whatever will distract you, leave at your desk (i.e. your phone which will probably lead you to scrolling down your Instagram/Facebook feed).
If possible, it’s nice to have a separate area for creative brainstorming, but at the very least, do it away from places where the team takes care of things like accounting and status updates. If it’s nice outside, take a field trip and let some vitamin C help you brainstorm!
Helps with overthinking and over-filtering of ideas.
Everyone takes turns presenting—one idea apiece. No comments are allowed until the entire circle has taken their turn.
Challenge the group to come up with as many questions about the topic as they can. Start with who, what, when, where, and why.
The topic or idea is shared with the whole group first, then everyone leaves the room except for two people. Those two people discuss their ideas. Then, one person is added, and shares his/her ideas before the first two people repeat their thoughts. Repeat until everyone has rejoined the group.
Markers, Crayons, and Whiteboards, Oh My!
Put away the laptops and forget about organized outlines. It’s fun, I promise.
Instead of introducing an idea to a group, try emailing people individually to ask for their thoughts and feedback.
Never underestimate the power of things like room temperature, snacks, comfy chairs, and a ‘casual Friday’ wardrobe.
Bad Ideas 1st
Before attempting to be brilliant, try being terrible. Generate a bunch of bad ideas for 10 minutes at the beginning and see where they go.
Random Theme Generators
Good for design concepts. Write down 20 or 30 adjectives, colors, verbs, and attributes that might apply to your project. Shuffle (leave in separate stacks), pick one from each category, and try to design something meeting those criteria.
What’s the Opposite?
Have the team go into detail about what you absolutely want to avoid. What’s the worst possible outcome of a PR campaign? What does a horrible social media campaign look like? What is an example of awful crisis communication and brand reputation incidents? Now do the opposite of that.
Come up with a random hurdle for the project, or a roadblock that forces people to get creative with the asphalt. The goal isn’t to create an unsolvable problem, just to encourage your people to think about it differently. Or, even better, use the obstacles you already know.
Thanks to the following publishers for allowing us to curate portions of their amazing content and ideas for this list of 15 tips:
- Seven Steps to Running the Most Effective Meeting Possible, by Neal Hartman, Forbes.com
- How to Run a Staff Meeting, by Damon Schechter, Shipwire, BusinessInsider
- How 12 Companies Make Meetings Memorable, Effective, and Short, by Stephanie Vozza, FastCompany
- 4 Ways to Run Status Meetings With Your Remote Team that Actually Work, by Elise Keith, LUCID
- How to Run a Brainstorming Meeting, by Scott Berkun,
- 4 Steps to Successful Brainstorming, by Susan Adams, Forbes.com