We all know what it’s like to struggle through an uninspired brainstorm. Everybody sits in a poorly-lit conference room, somebody brings a box of carbs (BAGELS! DONUTS! BREAKFAST PIZZA!), the coffee cups runneth over, and your team sits around spinning your wheels on creative client campaigns.

We’ve all been there. And we know that sometimes that environment isn’t that conducive to thinking about clients in a creative new way. So we’re here to offer a few tips for crushing your next brainstorm, and making clients and coworkers happy along the way.

  • Establish a no-judgment zone. Brainstorms can generate some great ideas—sometimes you just have to trudge through some weird ones to get there. Make it clear from the beginning of the session that all ideas have value because they can lead to even greater ideas, and no one will be judged for saying weird stuff.
  • Bring the snacks. Make sure there’s coffee, deh. But skip the sugary jolt-then-crash of doughnuts. If you’re gonna go for heavy carbs, at least make it a bagel with lox — which has omega-3s that help with brain function. AKA your coworkers’ brains will be truly fed and ready to think up some truly creative shit.
  • Be clear about what you’re trying to accomplish. It isn’t realistic or fair to expect that you’ll come out of the brainstorm with a fully fleshed out campaign. Instead, establish a simple goal: “think of 3 genuinely interesting, creative campaigns that the client could realistically execute”. Then the client team can take those ideas and run with them.
  • Help people come prepared. If they aren’t part of the account team, make sure they receive background info in advance of the brainstorm so they can come ready to roll.
  • Guide the conversation. We’ve all been part of brainstorms where the topic wandered far, far away from why we were gathered there. Those kinds of brainstorms can become a waste of time if there is no one to wrangle the group back to the main point. Make sure you or another team member is in charge of guiding the conversation and keeping it aimed at solving the main goal you came to solve.

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What other tips do you have for successful brainstorms?

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