From HubSpot, we love brainstorms
Getting your team together in a single room to come up with ideas not only allows you to identify creative articles or strategies that you might not need thought of, but it also can enhance feelings of psychological security as people who might not be high-level managers are invited plus encouraged to offer their input.
Brainstorming is one of the most effective team-building activities we make use of at HubSpot. But , recently, when we had to leave our physical offices and embrace remote work, many managers wondered how they’d reconstruct the same in-person communication, productivity, and sense of psychological safety virtually.
Luckily, a number of our managers were able to adapt rapidly, leading a number of successful digital brainstorms in 2020.
To assist managers build solid idea-generation techniques — even from your home — here are a few steps HubSpot employees on the blog, order team, and DI& N team take when choosing remote brainstorms.
How to Run a Virtual Brainstorm
1 . Give your team a headstart.
If your teammates already know the goal of the brainstorm, the encourages they’ll be given, and their own idea generation instructions, the can come ready and desperate to immediately make suggestions.
Before the brainstorm, consider sending a detailed email or a creative brief about what you’d like to achieve throughout the session.
“I’ve found that will giving members of your brainstorm a chance to prepare in advance leads to higher quality ideas presented in the brainstorm, ” says Emmy Jonassen, Sr. Director of Marketing at HubSpot. “A creative brief will also help you create the best use of your time, so you’ll focus on the function of brainstorming rather than talking about the assignment. ”
second . Designate a facilitator prior to the brainstorm.
When you’re attending a brainstorm in person, it’s simpler to determine who’s talking, who’s being asked questions, plus who’s running the conference simply by body language and other interpersonal cues.
When you’re on a movie call, some cues could be harder to notice. You might not know who should be answering a question, who you should ask questions in order to, and who is trying to keep your meeting on schedule. For this reason it’s helpful to clearly designate a host or facilitator.
“The trick to having a great write down ideas is getting everyone involved, inch Jonassen explains. “A facilitator can help create an environment where everyone feels comfortable chiming within. They can also help keep the conversation going through awkward silences, keep the group on track, and bring people into the conversation who tend to be more reserved. inch
Once you’ve planned your brainstorm and designated yourself or somebody else as a facilitator, be sure to note this information in the brainstorm’s innovative brief, calendar invite, or even at the beginning of the session. If you use breakout rooms — which we’ll discuss in step four — consider developing a facilitator for each of them.
3 or more. Take virtual notes.
During in-person brainstorms, it’s easy to appear down and type on your computer while still talking plus engaging with others. But , on a video call, you might like to stare less at your records and more at your camera therefore it doesn’t look like you’re losing interest. And, if you should take notes, you might worry about missing something as you toggle between screens. Because of these issues, notes can get pretty muffled.
That’s why Alexandra Garnier, a French automation marketing supervisor, says brainstorm coordinators should, “Either use a virtual whiteboard, a shared online notes document, or (if needed) a designated note-taker. ”
By creating joint information or designating a note-taker, everyone can have a shared way to obtain information to look back upon and can focus on the discussions at hand, When selecting a note-taker, it’s best to pick a fast typer or an attendee which isn’t tasked with creating ideas, such as a co-coordinator. This can allow them to focus on the information without heavily missing out on a great team activity.
4. Accept virual breakout rooms.
During a large in-person brainstorm, you might be asked to break into small groups, go to another area, and come back with a couple of ideas to offer from your team. Luckily, many video contact tools have been able to imitate this experience with breakout space features.
“It’s harder to get everyone to participate if you have more than five or six people involved, ” Jonassen says. “If I have a large group, I’ll typically utilize this feature to break people into smaller groups and write down ideas for a set period of time. After that the ended, I’ll have everyone rejoin the larger group to talk about their ideas. ”
Garnier similarly added, “If you have to do a brainstorm with a bigger group, it’s better to after that do breakout rooms. Many people tend to shy away when there are several participants. ” This can be especially true in a virtual setting, exactly where people might feel unpleasant speaking up.
If you’re making use of Zoom for your meetings plus interested in breakout rooms, here’s a great tutorial for the way to activate them on your following call.
5. Use digital noises and other signals to transition between activities.
Several brainstorms might involve a combination of individual and group activities. However , when the ideas are flowing in one task, it could be naturally hard to stop plus jump into a new part of the session. According to Margot Lieblich, a Sr. UX Researcher who coordinates month-to-month brainstorms and ideation classes, it’s even harder to control time in a virtual meeting.
“Oftentimes in brainstorms, you happen to be on a tight schedule and need to make quick transitions to the next activity. This can be especially hard in a remote establishing, when you can’t always aesthetically signal to get everyone’s attention at once, ” Lieblich says.
“Use an audible timer to clearly mark the finish of an activity. You can even obtain creative with the sound, ” Lieblich advises. “I’ve used Oscars’ theme music, and one of my coworkers utilizes the sound of a duck quacking. ”
“After hearing the particular timer once, the group will begin to learn to wrap up and start transitioning to the next activity when they listen to the sound again, ” Lieblich explains.
6. Include both group and individual brainstorm activities.
Some people work better by themselves while others work much better in groups. In a virtual brainstorm, this can become more apparent when those who don’t respond to group activities zone out, and those who don’t like to give individual pitches will wait till the end hoping they run out of time. By doing two activities, you ensure that everyone can ideate in their own confort zone.
“I like to start out with an individual activity therefore people have a few minutes to explore their own approaches to the problem space without having influencing each other, ” Lieblich says. “After running an individual activity, I incorporate a team activity so people may inspire each other and come up with even richer, more interesting ideas. ”
7. Remember, you don’t always need to routine a video call.
While you might believe all remote brainstorms should happen on video calls, this isn’t always true. Indeed, many of them certainly will. But , if you’re asking teammates to come to some brainstorm prepared with some thing quick — like a post pitch or a one-off e-mail idea, you might be able to cut a time-consuming video call out of your brainstorming process completely.
Recently, when the blog team was drawing out the quarterly content strategy, we wanted to ask our authors to come up with ideas for blog posts. But , because each author has an incredibly busy plan, asking them to come to an extremely long brainstorm meeting where each person would offer five to 10 post suggestions didn’t make logistical feeling.
So instead, I matched a virtual brainstorm that took place completely over Google Sheets. To kick off the particular brainstorm, I sent my team an email and an Idea Generation Spreadsheet with guidelines on what content needs we would have for the next quarter, how many post ideas to put on the spreadsheet, and a deadline for submitting post recommendations.
From there, writers had fourteen days to offer ideas for at least five blog posts. Here’s a quick look at the spreadsheet with an instance post I gave authors to guide them through the aspects of giving a post recommendation:
After the deadline, our editors proceeded to go in and used the spreadsheet’s comment features to give feedback that writers could keep in your mind for the next virtual write down ideas. Since this brainstorm, most of the blog posts suggested were put into our content calendar.
Preparing Your Virtual Brainstorm
Most of the tips above relate to enhancing one critical aspect of brainstorms: participation.
As you plan the next content or campaign brainstorm, ask yourself how you can make the brainstorm engaging for everyone.
By making it easier for your team to engage with others, give their particular thoughts, or suggest ideas in a brainstorm, you’ll get a lot more participation and — ultimately — more winning concepts from teammates that might not offer them otherwise.
To learn about more brainstorming strategies, read this blog post. In case you are interested in how you can encourage psychological safety in other areas of your business, check out these expert ideas.