Two heads are better than one. Three or more heads though, and you’re really onto something. Unless, of course, those heads are faced with a lack of organization and forethought leading to groupthink.
Groupthink Definition: The practice of thinking or making decisions as a group, especially with a lot of like individuals, in a way that discourages creativity or individual responsibility.
Because of the level of creativity expected (and hopefully harnessed) from a solid brainstorm session, it’s easy for people to assume structure is unnecessary. For example, the whole “think outside the box” idea that generally never works when it comes to actionable insights.
You can’t fence in ideas that don’t want to be tamed!
However, toss rigidity aside and a bit of structured guidance can actually benefit the creative eye, especially when it comes to your team’s content creation.
Whether you’re looking to generate blog topics or ideas around your next video series, the best is yet to come from a team that’s in sync and encouraging. Check out these 8 tips for leading a better brainstorm.
Set and Share an Agenda Beforehand
You wouldn’t stand up in front of a client or present to a crowd without a bit of preparation beforehand, would you? Most likely, the answer is ‘no’.
To get the most productivity out of your editorial team and efficiency out of your brainstorm, be sure to outline an agenda for the meeting when sending out the invite. Give attendees an idea of what to expect and what will be expected of them. In addition, encourage them to come prepared with thoughts to toss around, so you can kick things off with energy and momentum.
Include the Right Brains
As companies grow larger in size, a trend tends to develop wherein the number of people cc’d on emails and invited to meetings grows as well. While this may make sense logically as departments add assets to their team, adding “too many cooks to the kitchen” can end up being a waste of a great brainstorming session. Remain mindful of everyone’s time and ensure those invited to a brainstorm are necessary for the overall process. If you want to bring in an outside party for variety and a fresh set of eyes, simply give them enough notice ahead of time to so they can properly prepare and conduct the necessary research.
Keep an Eye on the Time
When done well, brainstorming can both enrich and energize a team’s excitement around content creation. When done for well over an hour with zero breaks, not so much. Be conscious of time and keep your meetings as focused and concise as possible. The longer they linger, the more likely it is that attention will start to wander and ideas begin to fizzle.
Open the Meeting With Context
Before getting into the meat of the meeting, elaborate on any previously provided context with data, audience insights and clear objectives. Doing a simple keyword-based search utilizing content intelligence tools can allow you to find trending articles across social media from influencers or competitors—giving you strategic insight around a topic before beginning the session. You don’t want to limit creative possibility, but you do want to encourage attendees to approach the problem with a strategic eye. After all, if you end the meeting without any reasonable, actionable takeaways, then what was the point of having it in the first place?
Hear From Everyone
You’ve invited a multitude of people to brainstorm for a reason. If the same individuals continuously dominate the conversation, set up a round-robin rotation that ensures everyone in attendance has the ability to contribute. Be encouraging of every idea by writing down everything that’s suggested. Even if the intention is not to put into motion every idea suggested, making note of them makes the environment feel more inclusive.
Multitasking in meetings breeds unproductiveness, but that doesn’t stop 92 percent of people from doing it. If technology is the biggest culprit behind participants’ distractions, include a no technology rule. Sometimes it’s good to put pen to paper! There can always be exceptions made to the rule, but try to keep everyone engaged in the conversation and not on their screens.
Focus on Quantity, Not Quality
When it comes to content creation, it’s true that quality trumps all. During a brainstorm, however, the goal is to throw out everything and anything that comes to mind (within reason). Not every idea is going to be perfect and that’s okay. The beauty of being open to all suggestions is that in doing so, you also leave the door open to possibility. Someone’s ‘bad’ idea can always become the stepping stone to spark someone else’s really great one.
Have an Action Plan Behind Next Steps
At the end of every brainstorm, make sure to run down a preliminary checklist of next steps. This gives everyone reassurance the time spent wasn’t for nothing and keeps forward momentum established around the agreed upon suggestions. These next steps could be as small as scheduling the next regroup around a narrowed list of ideas or assigning topics to research further and report back on. Don’t just host a brainstorm for the sake of doing so if you’re not prepared to find actionable ways to implement the new ideas.
In need of some outside opinions when it comes to your team’s content creation? A fresh set of PowerPost eyes might just do the trick. Contact us today for a free consultation!