What is the best way to run a brainstorming session?

You want people to feel comfortable to share any idea. They might be OK ideas, great ideas, or bad ideas. You can decide that later.

To get ideas (big or small) started, you have to begin somewhere, and brainstorming with your team is one of the best ways. Here are six tips for making your session a success.

  1. Start vague. You might have a goal in mind, but there has to be a starting point when brainstorming. Whether it’s making long lists or endless word association, think of anything and everything that relates to what you’re trying to accomplish. You don’t catch a lot of fish if you’re only using one pole.
  2. Listen to everyone in the room. Go around the room and ask what each person thinks. You have people on your team that depend on you. Value what each and every one of them brings to the session.
  3. Make eye contact. Seems basic, but it’s quite important in order to listening and understanding. Making that kind of contact shows respect.
  4. Suggest anything. You want people to feel comfortable to share any idea. They might be OK ideas, great ideas, or bad ideas. You can decide that later. When you’re brainstorming, almost anything goes. Just don’t fault people for suggesting something that’s not exactly right. Insults or minimizing don’t help when you try to get the creative juices flowing.
  5. Think thoroughly. You can be inspired by taking time and really thinking about what all you want to say. If you’re not getting what’s in your head onto a page, ask and take advice.
  6. Nothing is off limits. When you cast a wide net and no one beyond you and your team sees what you’re working on, you can go down any road you choose. Think of it as planning your own route instead of what’s on a map.