Brainstorming meeting template walk-through:
1. Objectives (5 min)
Before you schedule the brainstorming session, make sure you know what you want to get out of it. Have a clear and simple goal. Before the meeting, share a clear and concise statement of the problem you’re hoping to address with all attendees. This will give everyone that chance to start thinking about some ideas, especially those who like to have a little extra time to process and think. Start the meeting off by reiterating the problem you’re all trying to solve.
2. Ground rules & housekeeping (5 min)
When it comes to brainstorming sessions, it’s easy for louder voices to take control of the meeting. It’s also tempting for people to shut ideas down immediately. Neither of these things will encourage participation, which could hurt your team’s chances of coming up with the best solutions possible to your problem.
Over time, you’ll find that your rules will develop as you finesse what works best for your team. However, to start off, here are some ground rules to consider for your next brainstorming session:
When you’re suggesting ideas, make it known that you’ll all go through and vote for the best ideas after. If you’re interrupting the flow of ideas with criticism, not only will people feel less encouraged to contribute, but it could also act as a creative blocker to all those in the room.
No idea is too out of the box
A good brainstorming session shouldn’t focus on recycling past ideas, but rather innovating from them (or going a completely different direction altogether). Ask the team, “If we had unlimited budget, resources and time, what is the best solution or idea?”
3. Activity (20 min)
There are many different brainstorming activities that you can use during a brainstorming session. Generally, these activities encourage the team to get into the right headspace, collaborate with one another, and come up with ideas. Here are some brainstorming activities that you can use during this time:
The [Times] Magazine Exercise
If you have a big group, say 15-20+ people, this is a great exercise to try out. Give every team a large piece of paper (or digital whiteboard) and tell them that your company is being put on the cover of Times Magazine (or any other magazine that’s big for your business) as company of the year 5, 3 or 1 year from today. What would it say? As a collective group, go around and explain why that’s the cover and what needs to be done for your team to get there.
Give each individual several sheets of paper and a pen. Once the time starts, have them write down as many ideas that come to mind on the papers in front of them (within a time limit).
Timed idea lists
In small groups (2-5 people), have teams write down every idea that pops into their heads. The goal is to have as many ideas as possible written down within the set time frame (10-15 minutes). Once you’ve finished, give the teams a set amount of time (5 minutes) to pick out the best ideas from their list that they would like to share with the group.
4. Round-robin (15 min)
After you’ve completed the activity, use this time for each group to share their ideas. If you are facilitating the meeting, your job should be to listen, and dig deeper into the ideas presented. This is not a time to “pick the winner”. Make sure that you take detailed notes during this time so that you’re able to revisit all ideas in the future.
5. Idea voting (10 min)
If you’ve been itching to share an opinion about a certain idea, this is the time to do so. Go around the room and vote on what the best idea is. However, it’s important to note that some teams would prefer to digest all of the ideas and vote on them after the meeting has ended. This can be done with an idea management tool, which can also allow for anonymous voting.
6. Next steps (5 min)
Are there any next steps or action items that were agreed on during the brainstorming session? Document them in the agenda to keep everyone accountable. Make sure that your next steps have clear deadlines, expectations, and are assigned to someone.