9 Tips for Better Event Brainstorm Ideas

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Ahhhhh, the event brainstorm, used by marketers around the world to reset and refresh their live experiences. Fact is, too many event brainstorm sessions don’t result in a storm of anything. The best ideas come out of the best brainstorm sessions. And the best sessions are based on nine things.


1. Have a Moderator. Not having a skilled moderator facilitate an event brainstorm is one of the top reasons event brainstorm sessions fail. Think of the moderator as a party host. A good host welcomes guests, shows them around and keeps the conversation flowing. The same goes for a brainstorm moderator who:


  • Explains the goals

  • Sets the stage and explains that any and all ideas are welcome

  • Encourages everyone to share as many ideas as possible

  • Takes notes

  • Keeps the brainstorming on track and manages time

  • Controls any negative comments or distractions


2. Real Goals. Start your brainstorm with clear directives on what you want to accomplish. Set and communicatespecific goals. For instance: “identify three new event themes” or “determine five ways to integrate event technology.” This enables the moderator and the team to understand whether or not the brainstorm has been successful.


3. A Small Group. It’s tempting to include your whole team to ensure you get as many ideas as possible. But groups of five to eight typically produce the best results. According to HubSpot, this team size, “Usually offers enough people to have different ideas, but is small enough to come to a single conclusion through compromise about an idea.”


4. One Outsider. Consider adding a participant – either from your company or even a customer – who represents an outside perspective. Unexpected viewpoints add diversity to your ideas. For example, if your target audience includes IT professionals, your IT manager’s participation in your brainstorm might be invaluable.


5. A Process. Get the team’s creative juices flowing by distributing a short brainstorm brief to the team in advance of the meeting. Your brief should include brainstorm goals, along with initial ideas, target audience information and/or links to inspiring articles or pictures.And don’t forget to include a warm-up at the brainstorm session itself. Ask participants to share cool or interesting ideas they’ve seen recently. Don’t worry if the ideas aren’t relevant. Sharing breaks the ice and gets everyone comfortable.


6. A Time Limit. While some people like to leave the end time of a brainstorm open to encourage free-flow of ideas, others recommend setting a firm end-time. We prefer setting an end time because this approach communicates to the team that there’s a finite amount of time available to achieve your goals. This encourages your team to stay on task and to come up with as many ideas as possible, as quickly as possible.


Based on your goals, brainstorms typically range from 30 to 90 minutes in length. If you have a long list of objectives, break up the session. It’s hard to keep creativity flowing for long periods of time and your participants will appreciate the chance to recharge.


7. Be Open-Minded. One key moderator task is to encourage all ideas and possibilities. The best way to do this is to let participants know they won’t be judged or rejected – so no need to filter out ideas. Even better, encourage wild and crazy ideas. Even if a suggestion seems ridiculous, it could lead to another idea that becomes the winning concept.


8. Capture Everything. Record every idea shared in your brainstorm using whatever tool will be easiest for sharing and distributing to your team. This could be a whiteboard, an audio or video recording, a flipchart, an online note taking app or even handwritten notes on paper.


It can also be helpful to sort and rank ideas. HubSpot suggests separating ideas into three categories – good, bad and awesome.


9. Take Action. Once the brainstorm is over, the real work begins. It’s time to put your ideas into action. Use your recap notes to assign action items to your team members. This frequently overlooked step ensures you have a defined plan for tackling the original challenge – the one that initiated the brainstorm in the first place.


Preparing and running a brainstorm requires hard work. But the creative ideas they generate make it worth it to do it right.


Posted by Kristy Elisano | Request as a Speaker

Caffeine dependent Jersey girl. Northeast powder hound. Inspired by creative risk takers and underdogs. VP Marketing, Doodle owner and cocreator of my daughter.