Three secrets to brainstorming effectively

With the start of a new year comes a great opportunity to try out new ideas. Right now, people all over the world are huddling into conference rooms for brainstorming meetings. When run efficiently, brainstorming sessions are a great way to generate lots of ideas and plans. But if you’re not careful, your brainstorm can turn into awkward silence or a gripe session, both of which stifle creativity.

Here are three secrets to keep your brainstorming meetings effective:

Brainstorming Secret #1: Have a concise summary of the problem/need.

Everyone needs to know right away what you’re trying to solve. Include any supporting details, such as when the project needs to go live and what the goals are. You should also only include people who have the insights to help your need or else you’ll waste time giving people a crash course on how something works rather than how to solve it. If necessary, send out the background information to people a few days ahead of time so they have time to prepare.

Brainstorming Secret #2: Leave criticism at the door.

It’s really easy to start evaluating an idea once you hear it. But when you focus on how an idea can’t work, you won’t focus on any new ideas. Not only that, criticism can keep people from speaking up because they’re afraid of being judged. If an idea gets too far into crazy town, take a piece of it in a different direction. Keep it positive, creative and productive. Remember — there are no bad ideas.

Brainstorming Secret #3: Capture ideas visually.

With so many ideas running around, it’s important to have a place to jot down ideas where everyone can see them. Whether it’s a white board or a bunch of post-it notes on a wall, this technique allows you to see where the train of thought is going. It can also help you create action items and a very rough outline at the end of the meeting. Note: If you’re running the meeting, it may be smart to ask someone else to be the writer so you can focus on moderating the discussion.

What do you use to keep brainstorm sessions going? Let us know in the comment section below or on Twitter @ShareFile.


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