Use a brainstorm before you open PowerPoint®!

Diandra Macias

Written by

Diandra Macias

We’ve all heard it before…

“the presentation is due tomorrow, and you have to pull together the content, QUICK!”

Deadlines can make you feel like you have to cut corners and eliminate some very important steps in your creative process, but try to start all projects with at least a quick brainstorm.

Pulling four of your smartest co-workers together for 20 minutes will generate ten times more ideas than one person can for one hour! 1+1 equals 11, right, Marty?

Whether it’s an official-’cause-its-on-my-calendar brainstorm…or a “quickstorm” (a spontaneous 20-30 minute all-out cram session with some of the brightest folks you work with) collecting perspectives early on can be an enormous help.

So, if you’re new new to brainstorms,  here you go.

The unofficial rules to create a storm of ideas that you can build on:

  1. Keep it Short. This is key because you are most likely running low on time or you would be doing an actual full-on brainstorm. The formula? 3 parts generation, 1 part elimination…time is really up to you, but you got to make sure to whittle the ideas into something you can immediately use.
  2. Address the Problem. Write down the main problem/question/topic to quickstorm. Seeing it visually keeps everyone on task and helps them to answer the question in their solutions.
  3. Assign a Designated Driver. We all need someone to act as the po-po in case you REALLY start to get off topic. Their job is to bring focus.
  4. Go Big. Use a large writing surface (whiteboard or large sticky notes) so that everyone can use the ideas as visual triggers to build from You can also use the large 5×7 sticky notes on the table so folks can just grab ’em and slap ’em…to the wall, that is.
  5. Bring on the Pens! Never be on short supply…sharpies are best since they make it easier for others to see an idea from across the room. If they can’t see it, that great idea might be gone for good.
  6. Generate. Let it go. Use your past experiences, adventures, childhood, teachings, events…whatever makes you, you. Use that to generate unique ideas that solve the problem. This isn’t the time to play “Devil’s Advocate.” Leave it alone; just get your thoughts and ideas out before you worry about cutting them. Remember, it’s about generating tons of ideas.
  7. Check Your Fear at the Door. Sometimes fear of rejection can stump your creative thoughts. But you are all in it together and your LAME idea (that’s right, I said LAME) could trigger a GREAT idea from someone else–so share. Write. Be confident. There is no room for fear.
  8. Organize the Ideas. You’ll start to see themes arise, and you can group them into various buckets so that you end up with a few main concepts, or more if your storming goes well.
  9. Elimination Round. After you’ve collected everyone’s ideas, eliminate the gimmes, and the it’s been-dones–no one wants to see recycled work or clichés. Find the ideas that solve your problem. You can even put some of the ideas together to create a new twist on a concept. However you do it, you’ll walk away with some very unique ideas that will jump start your presentation in the right way.

So, gather some of your trustworthy, idea-generating colleagues, pop the corn, grab some candy and soda, and you have the ingredients for an all out idea-plosion! (The sugar high is just a bonus!)

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