Human Resources

How to Run a Brainstorming Meeting: 13 Tips For Creative Teamwork

Published on March 21, 2023 • Updated on March 21, 2023 • About 10 min. read

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How to Run a Brainstorming Meeting 13 Tips For Creative Teamwork

The best meetings happen when everyone feels engaged, excited, and empowered to participate. But maybe you find it challenging to manage your team's personalities and ensure everyone feels heard.

All you need is a little preparation, some creative brainstorming session ideas, and a strong video engagement tool for more collaborative remote meetings

In this article, you’ll find tips and a brainstorming meeting agenda template to turn "brain-draining" meetings into effective brainstorming sessions.

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How to conduct a brainstorming session in 13 ideas

With any brainstorming session, some people are excited to participate, while others are more hesitant. It can be challenging to create a dynamic and supportive environment for productive meetings.

To help you keep up, we've divided these 13 action items into four sections:

  1. How to prepare for a brainstorming session
  2. How to kick off a brainstorming session
  3. Brainstorming techniques to keep the team engaged
  4. How to follow up after an effective brainstorming session

How to prepare for a brainstorming session

Start by preparing an agenda and setting the tone so everyone feels confident to share ideas. Do it in this order:

1- Choose an objective
2- Create an agenda
3- Set up your digital whiteboard
4- Invite the right people

1. Choose an objective

You can choose an objective by identifying a workflow blocker or KPI you want to address. For example, if you want to increase sales, your objective is to generate ideas to improve sales processes or customer engagement. Setting a clear objective will help keep your team focused and ensure the session’s productivity.

2. Create an agenda

Choose a meeting agenda template and customize it with the session's goals, timeline, and expected outcomes. The agenda should also include information about the materials needed, like handout docs, presentations, and ground rules for participation.

Allow enough time for each agenda item, and prioritize the topics based on their importance. For example, if your objective is to generate ideas for a new product, your agenda can include:

  • Icebreaker activities to get the team warmed up [10 mins]
  • Recap of the target user or intended use case [5 mins]
  • Idea generation session [20 mins]
  • Review and selection of the most promising ideas [10 mins]

Pro tip: Consider the logistics when creating the meeting agenda. So if you’re using a browser-based platform like Livestorm, ensure that all participants can access the meeting links beforehand.

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3. Set up your digital whiteboard

A digital whiteboard, like Miro or Mural, is a powerful brainstorming tool that provides a space for team members to share ideas, offer feedback, and see a project’s big picture. You can customize pre-existing whiteboard templates (more on this later!) to fit your objectives by adding visuals like images, charts, and diagrams. For example, you can use color-coded sticky notes to organize ideas by priority.

Pro tip: Choose a whiteboard that integrates with your online meeting platform so you can implement design thinking, mind mapping, and annotate boards together in real-time.

A Miro Whiteboard in a Livestorm brainstorming session

4. Invite the right people

Invite your team members based on the session objective. If you're brainstorming ideas for a product launch, you’ll need key people from the product design and marketing teams.

Next, assign roles like a note-taker and a skilled facilitator who can keep the conversation focused and productive. You could also assign a devil's advocate to challenge assumptions and push the team toward generating ideas.

Finally, use scheduling apps to find a time that works for everyone. Livestorm integrates with Google Calendar, Outlook, or Calendly to sync your calendars, avoid schedule conflicts, and give your team quick access to the relevant virtual brainstorms.

Livestorm events synced directly with Google Calendar integration

How to kick off a brainstorming session

When working with different perspectives, your brainstorming session needs to foster open communication. Here’s how you can start on the right foot:

5- Establish a few ground rules
6- Show participants how to engage
7- Communicate the session goals

5. Establish a few ground rules

You don't want your session to spiral into a debate over personal opinions or biases. Agreeing on some basic virtual meeting etiquette will help set the tone of your meeting. Begin by explaining that there are no bad ideas and that everyone's input is valued.

Your ground rules could include:

  • Everyone has to present at least one idea, no matter how off-the-wall it may seem
  • Respect everyone's ideas, even if you disagree with them.
  • Build on the ideas of others rather than shooting them down.
  • Avoid distractions like emails, Slack, and other notifications during the session.

6. Show participants how to engage

You can only host engaging online meetings when your team feels involved and empowered to contribute their ideas using your brainstorming tools. So, if you're using a video engagement platform like Livestorm for virtual meetings, give a brief tour of the platform.

Show your attendees how you want them to use:

  • Live chat and Q&A to share ideas, feedback, or comments (more on this later!)
  • Miro whiteboard to share and organize ideas.
  • Breakout rooms for collaborative work between small groups (more on this later!)
  • Handouts plugin to download resources, documents, or slides
  • Emoji reactions to share your sentiments
Livestorm’s emoji reaction for interactive brainstorming meetings

7. Communicate the session goals

You’ve already established the objectives and meeting agenda. Now you need to let your team members know why they’re there and what they’re expected to contribute.

So, if you’re brainstorming for a new product, you can say: “Our objective is to generate 10 creative ideas that focus on new revenue streams, customer acquisition, and innovative partnerships. We want to develop three concepts that we can pitch to the CEO in the next quarter.”

It’s always a best practice to communicate the overall objective of your brainstorming session. The more specific and actionable your goals are, the easier it’ll be for your team to share ideas.

Brainstorming techniques to keep the team engaged

When you’re working with a distributed team, brainstorming sessions can be tricky. Everyone needs to feel that they have an equal opportunity to contribute. Here's how you can keep them engaged:

8- Encourage everyone to participate
9- Use breakout rooms
10- Use timers
11- Avoid analyzing ideas

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8. Encourage everyone to participate

One of the challenges in virtual brainstorming sessions is ensuring everyone feels comfortable enough to speak up. With Livestorm, you can use live chat to ask questions, share feedback, and acknowledge contributions.

You can also use the question upvote feature to get a sense of which ideas are most popular among your team. This way, you can address the most relevant questions in a structured setting.

9. Use breakout rooms

Your web conferencing software should have a built-in breakout room feature that allows you to set up as many rooms as you need, either manually or automatically. Larger teams can be divided into breakout rooms to collaborate on one or more issues in more manageable groups. This gives everyone the opportunity to participate without feeling drowned out. And after a productive discussion, they can rejoin the main room and nominate a rep to present their ideas.

Livestorm’s breakout rooms for manageable team meetings

10. Use timers

It's easy to get sidetracked when everyone’s bouncing ideas off of each other, but setting a timer can help keep the focus on one problem at a time. For example, when tackling an issue, you can allocate five minutes for team members to write down as many ideas as possible.

After the time’s up, the team can share ideas and move on to the next problem. This encourages quick and creative thinking without worrying about overthinking or getting bogged down in details.

11. Avoid analyzing ideas

A common mistake that can derail the creative process is to analyze ideas too early. Don’t spend the brainstorming session validating suggestions or shutting them down — you’ll make time for this later. Instead, encourage team members to share all ideas that come to mind — even if they seem wild or unconventional. Who knows? Maybe you’ll think of something unexpectedly brilliant.

How to follow up after an effective brainstorming session

You've just had an effective brainstorming session and have many fresh ideas to work with. But now what? You don't want to lose them in the shuffle. So, follow up with your team in two easy steps:

12- Schedule an automatic email
13- Share the session replay
14- Communicate action steps

12. Schedule an automatic email

In your follow-up email, include a summary of the ideas generated, any action steps that need to take place, and a timeline for when they should be completed. With Livestorm, you can customize email templates and automate them to be sent out at appropriate times. This streamlines your team's workflow and frees up your time for other important tasks.

Livestorm’s automated email scheduler for before and after meetings

13. Share the session replay

You want to keep the momentum going so that all the great ideas generated aren’t forgotten. Most virtual conferencing tools can record your meetings, but you must remember to click the record button! With Livestorm, you can set your meetings to record automatically. The instant replay feature lets you immediately share the meeting recording and recap the session.

Livestom’s instant replay feature for effective brainstorming

14. Communicate action steps

Once you’ve shared the session recording, it’s time to start assigning tasks and setting clear deadlines. For example, if your team brainstormed ideas to improve customer service, you can assign different team members to take action steps, like creating a survey or developing a training program for customer service representatives. Check in regularly after the session to feedback on your team’s progress and address workflow blockers.

Pro tip: Use Livestorm’s Transcript app to convert meeting discussion points into written notes and meeting summaries. This makes it really easy to keep track of what was agreed upon during the session.

Brainstorming meeting agenda template

To help you plan your next session, we’ve created a brainstorming meeting agenda template based on Edward de Bono’s Six Thinking Hats framework.

Six Thinking Hats encourages you to embody different perspectives during idea generation. Each perspective is represented by a colored hat:

  1. Facts (white)
  2. Emotions (red)
  3. Risks (black)
  4. Positive outcomes (yellow)
  5. Creativity (green)
  6. Organization (blue)

You can assign each “hat” to a different team member, but it’s better to give everyone the opportunity to contribute using every perspective.

Six Thinking Hats agenda template

Feel free to customize this template and re-order the “hat” sequence to suit your needs.

Attendees: [Employee names], [Line manager name]

Date: [Time and date]

Duration: 1.25 hours

Checking in [5 mins]

How creative are you feeling today?

[Quick poll]

Blue hat [5 mins]

Establish the session objective.

White hat [5 mins]

Explain the facts and figures.

Green hat [15 mins]

Generate new ideas without judgment.

[Digital whiteboard]

Red hat [5 mins]

Which ideas are your favorite? No justification is required.

Yellow hat [10 mins]

How valuable are these ideas? What opportunities have revealed themselves?

Black hat [10 mins]

What risks or blockers have you encountered?

Green hat [10 mins]

Build on the ideas.

How can we increase their value or minimize risks?

Blue hat [10 mins]

Establish the next steps.

How will we execute these ideas? By when?

Brainstorming templates for a digital whiteboard

A meeting agenda is a good place to start, but it’s not everything. You also need a well-designed whiteboard that encourages creativity, organization, and collaboration.

We love Miro because it comes with plenty of digital whiteboard templates to spark creative thinking during your brainstorming sessions. On Miro, you’ll find templates like Six Thinking Hats, an idea funnel, a lotus diagram, and a mood board.

Here’s how to use them:

A Miro Whiteboard in a Livestorm brainstorming session
EbookInternal communication

Engage employees in a hybrid environment

Livestorm helps teams collaborate and deliver memorable live or on-demand video experiences.

Ready, set, brainstorm!

The success of your brainstorming session is defined by your team’s engagement. To create an environment that promotes free-flowing ideas, start with:

  • Preparation. Choose a session objective, set a clear agenda, and invite the right people.
  • Kicking it off. Set a few ground rules and communicate the session goals.
  • Keep them engaged. Use breakout rooms and timers and encourage participation.
  • Follow up. Schedule automated emails, send session replays, and confirm action steps.

And if you’re using Livestorm, you can host virtual brainstorming sessions with browser-based access. Plus, you get integrations with 1,000+ popular tools like Miro, Google Calendar, and Slack to make your brainstorming sessions more productive, engaging, and fun. Happy brainstorming!

Frequently asked questions about how to run a brainstorm meeting

What is an example of brainstorming?

An example of brainstorming is when a group of people come together to generate ideas for something like “webinar topics” or “virtual marketing events”. Brainstorming can be done in person or virtually, and it can be used to solve problems, create strategies, or develop new product ideas and services.

What should be avoided in brainstorming?

When brainstorming, you should avoid criticizing or judging ideas. This can break creativity and discourage people from making suggestions. You should avoid trying to analyze ideas during the brainstorming session. It’s best to focus on generating ideas - you can set aside time for analyzing them after.

What are the 7 rules of brainstorming?

The seven rules of brainstorming are outlined in Applied Imagination by Alex Osborn:

  • Focus on quantity, not quality — generate as many ideas as possible
  • Withhold judgment and criticism of ideas
  • Welcome wild and unusual ideas
  • Build on the ideas of others
  • Combine and improve upon existing ideas
  • Be visual — create images to accompany ideas
  • Go for "unexpected" solutions and solutions that go against the grain.
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