The beauty of brainstorming is that you can feed off each other’s energy and ideas to spark creativity. But now that many of us are working from home, brainstorming is moving to the virtual realms. And while that may not seem as exciting, there are tips and tools you can use to make virtual brainstorming even better than the real thing.
Use an online whiteboard: If you’re used to using a whiteboard, there’s no reason to give that up cold turkey. Instead, you can use an online whiteboard. It gives you the benefits of visual thinking and collaboration without having to be in the same room as your teammates.
Have a video call: Working remotely doesn’t mean you can’t talk to the folks you work with. Hop on a video call, whether it’s one-on-one or with a larger group, and have the same conversation you’d have in person—just be sure someone’s taking notes. Or, if you really can’t get away from that whiteboard siren song, many videoconferencing apps have built-in whiteboard features. Some, like Zoom’s, is pretty rudimentary, but they get the job done.
Brainstorm alone: There’s a decent amount of evidence to suggest brainstorming is better alone. (Though groups can help edit on ideas, that has to be structured.) Sarah Park, president at MeetEdgar, says that her team tends to brainstorm alone, or in smaller groups, and only then share with a larger group. Of course, brainstorming alone doesn’t have to mean sitting in front of an empty Google Doc. In fact, walking makes you more creative, so take a walk to do your thinking. Just be sure you have your phone on you so you can take notes as things pop into your brain.
Start a slack channel—and use threads: If you want to brainstorm together, but asynchronously, Slack is a great place for it. Start a channel-specific to the brainstorm, and then folks can drop ideas in there. For every discrete idea, start a thread riffing on it. This is great for folks and teams who brainstorm better alone but still want a sounding board. You get to brainstorm in the comfort of your own head—without an entire room of people watching you think—but then it’s out there to get refined or to spark new ideas.