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How to Have Better Team Brainstorming Sessions
By Hudson Liao on

Brainstorming sessions can help you to come up with solutions you may have never thought of on your own, and see the situation in a new light. Some may find brainstorming sessions to be impossible. We at MeetingPulse will show you how to structure your brainstorm session to generate great ideas.

If you’re interested in having productive brainstorming sessions, keep reading to find out some key strategies and ways to avoid common pain points. 

What Is a Brainstorming Session?

A brainstorming session occurs when you generate new ideas for a project or business venture. You can brainstorm a solution to help with an issue in your professional or personal life. Overall, brainstorming is when you set aside time to focus and try to think of an idea or solution to make your life, situation, or job easier. Group brainstorming sessions work the same way, but with more brainpower and opportunities for collaboration.

How Does Brainstorming Help Generate Ideas?

Group brainstorming sessions can help by putting a few minds together and developing ideas with collaboration. When you have more than one outlook for a situation in a brainstorming session, it can help to generate ideas that the entire team supports, not to mention ideas that a single person might not be able to think of on their own.

If you’re brainstorming by yourself, you may jot down any ideas or situations that come to mind while thinking about the situation at hand. This is often more frustrating, and executing big projects or making significant changes alone send the message to your team that you don’t want to hear their input.

The Importance Of Framing the Problem

Alt Text: Blank picture frame on the wall, symbolizing the act of framing the problem in a brainstorming session

 

When you sit down to brainstorm examples with a group, you will most likely be trying to find a solution to an issue using creativity and logic. One of the most important aspects of brainstorming is framing the topic correctly so you can find the best solution.

Framing your brainstorming process is important because it allows you to state the problem or situation you would like to brainstorm on, and then set a goal on what you’d like to achieve in the process. 

If you’re having trouble, framing the topic can help greatly. If you find that you keep hitting a wall, go ahead and rephrase the problem a few different ways and see what solutions you come up with after rephrasing the initial issue. 

What Should a Brainstorming Session Entail?

Overall, a brainstorming session should entail a few things to make it effective. Below, you will find our brainstorming examples on what a session should have.

Clearly Identifying the Problem

The key to a coherent brainstorming session is letting attendees know the problem or question at hand. It’s true that brainstorming sessions should be a chance to generate creative ideas, and some of those ideas might stem from tangential thoughts. But problems that aren’t clearly defined won’t aid creativity – they’ll hinder it. Instead, clearly articulating one or two specific issues will give your attendees heightened focus. From there, they’ll get a chance to explore their ideas and show off their creativity for the whole team to benefit.

Selecting the Right People

When you are doing a brainstorming session with a team, make sure you choose the right people to help you brainstorm and bounce ideas off of. Ideally, those you choose should also be working to solve the same problem and want the same outcome of the issue. A large team can be great for coming up with new ideas from scratch, but if you’re dealing with a more specific problem, it might be better to host a smaller group brainstorming session.

You should select people based on expertise – just because people want to solve a problem doesn’t mean they can. Consider the amount of time they’ve spent with the company, previous good ideas they’ve had, successes on important projects, and any relevant certifications or attended training sessions.

Setting Goals

After identifying the problem you’d like to brainstorm on and asking your initial question a few different ways, it’s time to set goals for your session. Make sure you set goals on what you’d like to achieve during your brainstorming time.

Good goals to set are things such as: finding a creative way to solve the problem, use no plastics in our solution, come up with 3 ideas to solve the issue, and so on. By setting realistic goals, you can have expectations for your group and set up a great session before it begins. Make sure these goals are easily available for every attendee.

Asking Questions

As stated above, you should ask questions to begin your brainstorming process. You should first state what the initial question is. From here, rephrase the question a few different ways so it can be looked at from different angles and entice different solutions. 

Sharing Ideas

One of the best parts about brainstorming with a group is sharing ideas. When you brainstorm with at least one other person, you are bringing a different viewpoint into your group. This means they may have different ideas and views that you might not come up with on your own.

When an idea comes to mind, you should share it with the group. They can give you feedback and hopefully you will plant some seeds for further ideas to come about. 

How To Make Group Brainstorming a Habit

After a few successful sessions of brainstorming, your team should have come up with great ideas. If brainstorming has helped you to find new ways to approach a problem and solve it, you may want to make it a habit for yourself or your team. Meeting Pulse can help you make brainstorming a habit. With our Live Q&A Sessions and brainstorming tool, you can ask questions to your team and invite them to share ideas. Reddit style upvoting makes it feel like a collaborative forum, and the document feature allows people to access important documents with goals and agendas clearly articulated.

To make brainstorming a habit, try to do it at least once with every major project or issue that comes to light. You can also have your team meet once a week or once a month to build the habit. Overall, habits are built by repetitiveness. 

Related: Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos’ Tips for Running a Great Meeting

Strategies to Increase Brainstorm Session Engagement

Alt Text: Team of women having a brainstorming session using a flowchart to illustrate their ideas

Some brainstorming sessions may not be as easy and fruitful as other ones. To help you get past a wall, we have come up with a few strategies to help get those creative juices flowing.

The first thing you should do when a mental block happens is to get creative. Come up with some outlandish ideas to loosen up the team. Also, try to break down and analyze existing ideas to spark some inspiration.

Also, remember that no idea is a bad idea. If it’s not the best you’ve ever heard, you can probably build off of it or take something away. The key to moving past a block is to be open to all ideas. 

Open Space Brainstorming

One of the most efficient ways to brainstorm is to do it in an open space. This space could be a whole room dedicated to your session and have tools such as whiteboards and cork boards available for pinning down ideas. Here are a few tools to help with your open space brainstorming sessions:

Diagrams and Word Clouds

Use a whiteboard or a tablet to write down any diagrams that come to mind. These diagrams can be designs or even charts.

Another strategy you can do is a word cloud. Start out with a single word and branch off to similar words that relate to the starting word and the issue at hand. You can also do a virtual word cloud and collect audience feedback through a polling feature. And that brings us to another great strategy…

Live Polling

If you come to a fork in the road with two ideas or can’t choose, try live polling your group. By having a live poll, people will get to state what idea they favor, and you can talk through why each person agrees and disagrees to hopefully spark some new inspiration. 

Verbal Presentations

If someone comes up with an idea, instead of shouting it out to the group, they can verbally present their idea. If they walk you through their idea, then it may spark new solutions. 

Overcoming Common Brainstorm Challenges

Alt Text: Man from sales department brainstorming with woman from marketing department to come up with a solution 

Whenever you work in a group, there are bound to be some issues that may not make your brainstorming as effective as you would like. Below, we have outlined some common group issues and how to work through them:

Brainstorming with Different Personalities

When different personalities are put in a room, there’s bound to be some clashes. To get through this problem, make sure to state that no idea is a dumb idea and also have a designated mediator for when things get out of hand. 

Brainstorming Across Departments

If you are brainstorming with multiple departments, there may be some miscommunication. Make sure to tell everyone in the room that if someone doesn’t understand something, try to explain it to them. Having the heads of more than one department can be effective if everyone can understand they are on common ground. 

Using Empathy and Engagement to Brainstorm

Sometimes, brainstorming sessions may seem as if they are going nowhere. If this is the case, make it less formal and include some feelings as to why you are passionate about the problem and why your feelings led you to have your ideas. This will promote engagement and hopefully get those creative juices flowing again. 

Related: Tips to Improve Communication in the Workplace

Conclusion

We have covered what brainstorming is and how it can help benefit any issue or problem that arises in your personal life or professional career. By using our tips, you are sure to have one of the best brainstorming sessions in your life. MeetingPulse can help you hold better brainstorming sessions with tools to increase engagement. Our brainstorming function lets you ask session attendees questions through a simple link and/or with Powerpoint integration. 

They can submit their thoughts, and you’ll be able to share their input with the team, live. With MeetingPulse, you won’t have to slow down to write things out on a whiteboard or write word clouds down on paper. Attendees can type out what they have to say as quickly as they come up with new ideas, and your brainstorm sessions will be more efficient than ever. 

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