9 tips to run an effective brainstorming meeting

5 minute read
9 tips to run an effective brainstorming meeting

It’s likely that we’ve all been part of a brainstorming meeting that’s been unfocused, long and frustrating, with various ideas shared but no path to move forward.

This is not the kind of brainstorming meeting you want to experience with your team.

Brainstorming with others should enhance creative performance by almost 50 percent versus individuals working on their own.

Simply put, brainstorming is a go-to method for generating and developing ideas in a collaborative environment. Without the right preparation, leadership and focus, though, your brainstorming meeting can go off the rails.

The following are nine tips to run an effective brainstorming meeting that boosts team morale and generates creative ideas that serve your business, regardless of the topic.

Give enough time for individual preparation

Brainstorming participants tend to produce better ideas when they can think alone first. So, it’s important to allow for enough preparation time for everyone involved.

Doing so helps avoid groupthink in your brainstorming meeting and gives each person the opportunity to better contribute since they are prepared. Everyone also is able to collaborate more effectively and identify and develop the best ideas and solutions.

Maintain a small group

To avoid having too many cooks in the kitchen, don’t invite too many participants to your brainstorming meeting. 

Ideally, there should be no more than 10 people involved. 

Limiting the participants makes it easier for everyone to be heard and promotes more constructive conversations.

Because you do want to limit the size of your group, be sure to choose your participants wisely. You want to invite a diverse team with different backgrounds and roles to best discover new ideas in your brainstorming meeting. 

Avoid inviting anyone who’s too far removed from the topic that you’d like to discuss. You really want everyone to be an active participant with a buy-in for the process.

Keep your brainstorming meeting short

Shorter meetings will help keep your team focused. A time constraint will motivate your participants to stay on topic and share all possible ideas.

You’ll want to aim for no more than 30 minutes if possible. If you can make it even shorter than that, then all the better. 

Also, pay attention to when you’re scheduling your brainstorming meeting. Late afternoon meetings can feel sluggish, with your participants more mentally fatigued. Consider what the timing sweet spot would be for your team.

Share the goal of the brainstorming meeting

In order to be focused in your brainstorming meeting, everyone needs to be clear on the goal. What problem are you trying to solve? You can ask a prompting question to help set the tone, such as “What types of campaigns do we want to promote for Black Friday?”

You’ll also want to consider setting some boundaries on potential solutions. For example, whether there are any budgetary limits. Just be careful how many boundaries you set. Too many can stifle the sharing of creative ideas, while the right amount can keep your team focused.

Make sure to give your team all this information at least a couple of days before your brainstorming meeting so that they can prepare with as much relevant information as possible.

Set a brainstorming meeting agenda

To stay on track, create an agenda for your brainstorming meeting. It doesn’t have to be extremely detailed. Remember, you do want to keep your time spent as short as possible.

But even the most basic agenda can help maintain the focus of the team and accomplish your goal before everything is over. You’ll want to share this agenda with your team in advance of the meeting as well.

Aim to:

  • Allow time to discuss your topic, and any relevant boundaries, definitions and context.
  • Spend time generating and exploring new ideas.
  • Come together to sort, discuss and get a consensus on the best ideas.
  • Identify next steps that should happen after the meeting is over.

Identify a facilitator

First things first, the facilitator of your brainstorming meeting does not have to be you. But regardless of who it is, a great facilitator can make or break your meeting. His or her job is to guide the discussion and keep the team on track.

Ways that a facilitator can do this include:

  • Setting and enforcing the rules of the brainstorming.
  • Redirecting the conversation if it veers off-course or dies off.
  • Making sure that each person contributes.
  • Explaining the next steps when the meeting ends.

Select your brainstorming technique

Part of your planning process should include the style of brainstorming that you want to use. There are multiple different techniques that can help facilitate more and better ideas out of your brainstorming meeting.

It’s important to consider all approaches and which one best suits your team and your goal.

And depending on what technique speaks to you, you can then understand what tools or materials you’ll need, such as Post-It notes, a time-keeping system, whiteboards, etc.

Check out these nine brainstorming techniques to inspire you.

Just make sure that everyone knows that there are “no bad ideas” to ensure that everyone is comfortable and confident while sharing.

Don’t feel obligated to keep it traditional

Typically, when we think of a brainstorming meeting, we think of a conference room with whiteboards and/or Post-It notes.

But don’t feel trapped by that box. Not only can you hold your meeting in a more non-traditional way, but depending on whether you have remote employees, you might have to.

Remember that with planning, an online version of a brainstorming meeting can be just as if not more successful.

Follow-up on your ‘next steps’

Your brainstorming meeting is only as successful as the actions you take after it’s over. What this looks like definitely depends on what your designated “next steps” are.

For example, in staying true to your overall time limit, your next steps could be as simple as reconvening at a new time in the future.

Regardless, commit to honoring the time invested by your team to potentially solve the problem at hand by following up and staying true to the plan you all set.

While you’re planning your next (more effective) brainstorming meeting, consider your digital marketing process. Is it everything you want it to be? DailyStory features automation, audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

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