We’ve all attended brainstorming sessions, some that generated useful ideas and some that flopped. The point behind a group session is to gather input from multiple people who can play off one another’s suggestions to come up with new concepts. But how can you make sure your session is successful and a good use of everyone’s time?
Here are five strategies to ensure you get the most out of a brainstorming session:
Choose a Moderator
Pick a team member who’s knowledgeable about the topic and has a good rapport with the group. Their job is to let everyone know ahead of time when and where the session will be, and to have all the necessary supplies and resources on hand. It’s important to have a large whiteboard available so the group can generate ideas simultaneously, which eliminates the awkward silences and the pressure to speak.
Set the Guidelines
Once the session starts, team members need the assurance that their ideas matter and won’t be received with harsh criticism. Assure everyone that all ideas are welcome and will be evaluated fairly. Discuss the importance of listening and engaging with one another in a positive manner. Now would also be the time to introduce an icebreaker if there are people new to the group.
Define the Topic
The moderator has likely given the team a heads-up in regard to the topic, but it’s important to be specific to ensure everyone is on the same page. The ideas will be harder to evaluate if the topic is too broad or unclear, but if the topic is too narrow, you’ll gather less input. Balance and forethought matter.
Set a Time Limit
Bring everyone to the whiteboard and let them know how much time they have. People tend to work better with well-defined but flexible boundaries. Make sure there isn’t a lot of lag time. It’s important to keep the session focused so team members know their time is valued as much as their ideas.
Review Ideas as a Group
Once the time is up and everyone steps back, it’s time for the moderator to step up. It’s the moderator’s job to go through the suggestions and allow the group to discuss each one. Setting the right tone is important. Think of it as elevating the best ideas rather than criticizing the worst. If team members feel their input is respected, they will be more likely to fully participate in future sessions.
Remember to make the session lively and keep everyone engaged! Nothing sparks creativity like having a little fun. Add in music and snacks, and your session is sure to be a hit. Planning ahead will help you and your team generate the sharpest and most useful ideas, and make your session one to remember.