When you imagine brainstorming, a small group of people gathered in person is usually what comes to mind. As our typical place of work has shifted into remote and hybrid settings, adapting traditional brainstorming into a virtual setting is a new challenge to consider. Think of a brainstorming session as a great way to assemble a team, create and explore new ideas organically, without judgment. 

A study from APA PsycNet comparing virtual and in-person brainstorming groups found that in-person groups enjoyed the process of brainstorming more and had more fun doing it. But, the study also found that virtual groups ultimately generated more ideas. The same research finds that virtual environments provide a better experience for group members as a whole, balancing the preferences of introverts and extroverts, optimists and pessimists, and employees ranging from entry-level to executives. A virtual setting levels the playing field for all participants. 

There are a few key differences between a traditional brainstorming session, and one held virtually. In this blog post, we’ll go through five tips to make sure your brainstorming session is successful virtually.

5 Tips To Host a Successful Virtual Brainstorm Session

1. Utilize Technology 

In 2022, rightfully so, we’re all digital meeting experts so it remains imperative to make sure your brainstorming session setup has clear and crisp video and audio, the chat function is enabled, online note-taking is available, and the agenda is easily accessible. That way, the meeting attendees can participate and follow along effortlessly. In addition, taking advantage of features like whiteboards and breakout rooms, allow everyone to collaborate in real-time. These features and other file-sharing and communication tools will give everyone on the call the ability to seamlessly share links, notes, and details. 

2. Create an Agenda and Send it Early 

Poorly planned meetings can be extremely frustrating, and will often feel like a waste of time. Trying to construct an agenda on the spot is stressful, and it takes up a lot of meeting time, so don’t be one of those meeting hosts. Creating and distributing an agenda to review and follow along with beforehand can keep meeting attendees focused and on track during your virtual brainstorming session. When you make your team aware of the topic before the brainstorming session, participants can properly prepare. Recommend they take a few moments to jot down any ideas or questions they might have prior to the meeting to be shared once the meeting begins. 

3. Set a Time Limit 

Brainstorming can be a nonlinear process, so setting a time limit is important to utilizing time wisely. Brainstorming methods should be structured, but never rigid. Leave room for tangents and different ideas, and let the session proceed organically. However, don’t be afraid to shift directions if you don’t think your team is getting distracted or the conversation has become stagnant. 

4. Appoint a Facilitator

It can be hard to stay on track for long periods in any setting, especially in a remote setting. Assign a facilitator who can speak up, and guide the conversation back to the agenda when participants veer off topic. In a large setting, appointing a timekeeper and a scribe could be beneficial as well.

5. Schedule a Follow-Up 

Once the brainstorming session has concluded, it’s time to turn those ideas into action. Send out a follow-up message with meeting notes, a checklist of any tasks that need to be accomplished (with deadlines), and a calendar invite to the next session. This way, you’ll keep the session at the top of everyone’s mind. Top of feed = top of mind! 

Like most endeavors, the best way to figure out what works best for you and your team is through experimentation. Use the tips above to help guide you and your team to find your perfect virtual brainstorming sweet spot. 

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