Ahh a good old brainstorm, where creative juices are flowing, ideas are flying and solutions to problems are being offered up left right and centre i.e. the ultimate exercise in collaboration. This is when things go right, brainstorms can also be plagued with uncomfortable silences or an hour wasted discussing something irrelevant. So, when it comes to virtual brainstorming, it’s important to bare these challenges in mind, not to mention some that are specific to an online environment.
Not to worry though, we’re here to offer 5 tips for a successful online brainstorming session, so that the many of us working from home can still collaborate effectively.
Right, this seems contradictory to the whole free flowing nature of a brainstorm, but it’s important to stay on topic. Otherwise, your session has the potential to spiral and suddenly you’re all debating the greatest films of the 80s rather than how your next campaign can successfully raise brand awareness.
We’d recommend opening with the problem, this will help everyone get in the right mindset and keep the brainstorm focused on finding an appropriate solution.
When you’re asking from input and ideas from several people, particularly if the people you’re asking can be described as vocal then things can get quite noisy and there is a tendency for people to talk over one another. Unfortunately, this is amplified online as there are less non-verbal clues to pick up on, which act as an indicator of when someone is about to speak.
Fortunately, there’s a simple solution. To keep your online brainstorming session productive, have one person speaking at a time. When other people aren’t speaking or contributing, politely ask them to mute themselves. This will help bring about some order, where everyone can contribute, not solely the people with the loudest voice.
For online collaboration to work, it’s crucial that you’re able to see the person you’re speaking to. Choose a video call platform with stellar video and audio quality (ahem, us, ahem). A video call tool will also include other features that make it easier to run a successful virtual brainstorming session.
You can use a virtual whiteboard, where you can all scribble down thoughts and ideas (be sensible, nothing naughty), making it perfect for a brainstorm. Screen share allows you to share your screen, giving the group something central to focus on and discuss. Last but certainly not least, with present document you can upload a specific document, and all annotate said document.
By setting a time limit for your online brainstorming session, you’re setting a precedent that unnecessary waffle is banned. You’ve got an objective for your session and this doesn’t include wasting two hours of everyone’s time. Sticking to a time limit will keep the session relatively disciplined and focused, increasing the chances of it being productive.
However, don’t put pressure on the session or feel disheartened that in the one hour you didn’t come up with the solution you wanted. Putting pressure on the session is more likely to stifle creativity rather than encourage it. Instead, put together some follow up actions that will ensure the next session is more successful.
The last point leads nicely onto this one. Whether your online brainstorming session was a roaring success or the opposite, don’t forget to follow up. It’s important that everyone who attended the session has a clear understanding of what is expected of them.
Send out a message thanking everyone for their participation, a list of what was discussed and any follow up actions that need to be taken. This will reiterate the importance of the session and prevent people from forgetting about why it was important in the first place.
So, there you have it, our tips for a successful virtual brainstorming session. Looking for more productivity tips? Check out how to prepare for a video call.