How to Hold a Successful Brainstorming Meeting With Your Team

September
14th, 2017
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder
September
14th, 2017
Keyhole - Content Marketing - Joe Dudeck
Joe Dudeck
President + Founder

Brainstorming continues to be a powerful tool for coming up with new ideas and should be used within your team. A compelling brainstorm can result in team bonding and your next big idea. However, a brainstorm gone wrong can be an energy-draining waste of time.

Here are some of our top tips for holding a successful brainstorming meeting:

Before the Meeting

Invite the right group of people.

Don’t blast your entire marketing team with a brainstorm invite. Instead, think strategically about who actually needs to be there, and personally invite those people. Pro Tip: Use the “pizza rule” – invite the amount of people who you could feed with a large pizza (generally 3-6).

Choose the right location.

Make sure there is enough space for everyone to fit comfortably, and that the space is good for recording ideas. Either a whiteboard or table big enough for large sheets of paper will work nicely.

Set an agenda and expectations for the meeting:

  1. How long will it last? We recommend the shorter the better. Thirty minutes is a great amount of time.
  2. Set a goal and aim for a specific quantity of ideas. Let people know that goal ahead of time, and challenge your team to hit that number.
  3. Consider circulating the question or topic before the meeting. Some people on your team may not be great on coming up with ideas on the spot, but could bring awesome ideas to the table with a little bit of time to prepare.

During the Meeting

Only allow one idea at a time.

This gives everyone in the room a chance to speak. You could also consider going around in a circle and letting each person have a turn or passing if they want to.

Stay on topic.

Remember that agenda and list of questions you sent out before the meeting? Stick to it! Keep your meeting on time and stay on topic to generate the greatest amount of ideas.

Number the list of ideas as they are generated.

Use a whiteboard or big pieces of paper on the table and number ideas as they come up. This adds a feeling of accomplishment, and serves as a mental pat-on-the-back for the group.

Use the response, “yes, and…”

Don’t waste time criticizing silly ideas. This adds a level of negativity to the room and isn’t productive. Instead, encourage wild ideas and improve some by adding something else to it. You could also look at this as building on the ideas of others. Throughout your session, reinforce this philosophy and strive to not filter, judge or critique.

Write down every single idea that’s mentioned.

And take a respectful stance toward each idea. You want everyone in the room to feel heard, to have permission to speak, and to defer judgment during the brainstorm. Consciously or subconsciously, others will follow your lead. Pro Tip: Don’t attach people’s names to their ideas.

After the Meeting

Ask yourself these follow-up questions:

  1. Is the information saved somewhere?
  2. Did you take a picture of the whiteboard or have someone type up the information?
  3. What are you going to do with that information?
  4. Were your expectations met for the meeting?
  5. Are you going to send it out to the group or run it by a client?
  6. How are you going to implement the ideas on the list?
  7. Are you going to use all the ideas or weed through the list and pick the best ideas?
  8. How are the ideas going to be sorted?

Thank the team and share an unfiltered list of ideas.

Make sure to thank your team for participating in the brainstorm session. Then send out the full list of ideas in a Google Doc or email after the meeting is over. You never know when inspiration may strike after reading through the list.

Follow-up again.

Did you use one of the ideas from your brainstorming session in a business decision? Let your team know! These follow-up steps are important because they show value in your brainstorming meeting and also empower your team to participate in the future.

Is your team burnt out on the traditional brainstorming meeting? Try one of these more creative approaches instead:

The Five-Day Passive Brainstorm:

Tape a large piece of paper to a wall in a common area of the office (kitchen, bathroom, etc). with your prompt at the top and a pen attached. Leave it up for five days and see what responses you get.

Five-Minute Passive Brainstorm:

Invite your team to a five minute “break” in the middle of the day, by sending an email with the subject line: “five-minute inspiration break (insert question here)” and ask your team to discuss via email. Pro tip: include a few of your own ideas in the initial email!

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