Virtual brainstorm Tips and best practises

Tips on How to Run a Virtual Brainstorm

We all have been there. And we all have felt this. The struggle of coming up with new ideas during your working hours. It isn't always easy to come up with new ideas and especially when your job requires pouring them out on a daily basis. That is when brainstorming sessions comes in hand. However, some brainstorming session are better than others. Have you ever felt like you or one of your team members struggled to name any idea? If yes, you might know how draining it is. It can feel like a waste of everyones time. On the other hand, having effective/successful brainstorming session can be surprisingly invigorating!

"Creativity is not the domain of one single person. Through free-association of thoughts and brainstorming, an accidental suggestion can be the best solution." - Joshua Fernandez

So here are 5 ways how to Benefit Your Virtual Brainstorm sessions during the time of pandemic:

1. Embrace virtual breakout rooms

During a large in-person brainstorm, often you might be asked to break into smaller groups. For that you have to go to another room, and come back with a few ideas to offer from your group. Fortunately, many video platforms (such as Zoom, Adobe Connect, and Samba Live) include a “breakout” option where the leader can assign smaller group discussions within a larger group. The leader can also set a time limit for the breakout sessions.

This breakout strategy allows all attendees to be engaged and involved in developing ideas.

2. Stepladder Brainstorming Technique

A method of collaboration; is great for giving everyone their say. How to implement it? First, you create a virtual meeting room with only two of your team members. During this meeting ask them to discuss a topic for a given time. Then, add one more participant to the meeting. Get their perspective on the same topic and finally get the whole group to discuss things further. Repeat the process until your full team get’s involved.

3. Remember, you don't always need to schedule a video call

You might think all remote brainstorms must happen on video calls, however this isn’t always true. If you’re asking teammates to come to a brainstorm prepared with something quick — like a blog post pitch or a one-off email idea, you might be able to cut a time-consuming video call out of your brainstorming process entirely. and evoke some ideas someone randomly have in their heads (inspire to reveal them, give a time to reveal it etc.).

4. Create a mood board.

The combination of imagery, color, and visual-spatial arrangements can help surface emotions and feelings that will spark fresh, new ideas! It has been proven to significantly improve information recall in comparison to more traditional methods of learning.

While there are many different ways to use visual stimuli in brainstorming; creating mood boards is one of the most common, especially when coming up with new branding and design concepts.

A mood board is a random collection of images, words, and textures focused on a certain topic, theme, or idea. Same like with mind mapping, the visual components of the mood board can be anything branching off that central topic. Here are some tools for creating a mood board: Milanote, Evernote, Pinterest, Canva.

5. Change your physical environment.

Did you know that Hemingway wrote standing up, facing a chest-high bookshelf with a typewriter on top, and on top of that a wooden reading board? First drafts were composed in pencil on onionskin typewriter paper laid slantwise across the board, after the work was going well, Hemingway would remove the board and shift to the typewriter – this way he slightly changed his surrounding and working location.

Nowadays we spend the majority of our time working digital. We hardly notice our physical environments, but this is a mistake. Our habitual, unconscious mind is still aware of our surroundings, using cues like time, location, and our senses to trigger automatic thoughts and behaviors! Some of it can work in our favour – to make us more productive. Others, not so much.

Therefore, switching up your physical environment isn’t just a fun change of pace; it can actually affect the way your brain works. It is proven by neurobiological testing.

(Neurobiologists) that enriched environments could speed up the rate at which human brain creates new neurons and neural connections. Which means – where you perform your brainstorming sessions could have an effect on the ideas you or your team comes up with.

If you can’t change the room itself, try changing something about the room to stimulate the brain, such as rearranging the chairs or putting pictures on the walls. Another idea is to stand up and walk around for some time while brainstorming to encourage the fluid creativity. Or we can always suggest to work in coworking space with cool environments such as twostay.work.

Besides all this, the founder of brainstorming – Alex Osborn set four ground rules for brainstorming sessions:

1. No negative feedback is permitted 

2. Out of quantity will come quality

3. Use others’ ideas as inspiration

4. Encourage and support big thinking

Many of the tips above relate to boosting one critical aspect of brainstorms – participation. As you plan your next content brainstorm, ask yourself: “how you can make the brainstorm engaging for everyone?”. By making it easier for your team to engage with others, give their thoughts, or suggest ideas in a brainstorm, you’ll get more participation and overall more winning ideas from teammates that might not present them otherwise.

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