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Lisa Dyson, Vice President and Senior Strategist
October 21 2020

Four Tips for Effective Virtual Brainstorms

Collaboration is critical to the creative process. And where collaboration often begins is with brainstorming…that moment when a project team puts their heads together to come up with a solution for the problem at hand. It takes planning to conduct a good brainstorming session. Without proper planning, it can be a colossal waste of time.

Now, imagine the kind of chaos that can come from brainstorming with people in various locations. Due to ongoing precautions related to COVID-19, many, including the O’Keeffe team, continue to operate remotely. We’ve had to adjust the ways we collaborate to ensure we can still meet the demands of the job.

So, how do you replicate the effectiveness of collaborating in person?

1. Distribute the Topic and Goal in Advance

Reviewing the topic and goal at the beginning of the meeting can cost valuable time and just sucks more air out of the room. By distributing the topic and goal in advance, your team will have an opportunity to prepare. Ask each individual to come to the session with a few ideas so you can jump right into the discussion.

2. Set a Time Limit

Be respectful of the team members’ time. With many working from home, it’s easy to unknowingly encroach on personal time or obligations that come from working remotely. Also, keep in mind that teams aren’t always in the same time zone. So, while running a little long might not be a problem for you, it can interrupt someone else’s dinner.

3. Stay Focused

Appoint a facilitator who can establish and maintain focus on the topic at hand. It can be difficult for teams to stay on track for an extended period of time. One topic can lead to another, and the next thing you know your hour is up and you have accomplished very little.

4. Follow Up

It’s important that you don’t let your brainstorm session become a waste of time and energy. It’s essential that you turn those ideas from the brainstorm into actions. The facilitator should follow up with participants to remind them of ideas generated and any “to do” lists for the team to turn those ideas into reality. The O’Keeffe team creates a Google Doc to house all of the information from our meetings so participants can add to the conversation.

Effective virtual brainstorms can be conducted; they just take a little extra time and preparation. Hopefully, these tips can help you get started and stay on track. How is your team navigating brainstorms in the age of Zoom meetings? Let us know!

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