When you plan a brainstorming session for your team, you’re accomplishing a couple of goals in one: First, you’re creating the opportunity to problem-solve and come up with great new ideas. Second, you’re giving your employees or team members the chance to speak up and be heard.
The problem is, not all brainstorming sessions are as inclusive as they should be. For a variety of reasons, your team members might not feel empowered to speak up. Or maybe they don’t have the tools for doing so.
But today I’m here to help with our top tips for making your next brainstorming session more inclusive than ever before.
After all, the more interactive the session, the more opportunities you have to hear that next brilliant idea!
How to Make Your Next Brainstorming Session More Inclusive
Start off on the right foot
As the moderator of a brainstorming session, you’ve got a lot of important jobs!
You’re responsible for maintaining some structure and flow to the session. You’re also responsible for clearly outlining the brainstorming session problem or topics that will be covered.
But it’s also your job to start the session off on the right foot.
As the moderator, you can announce your intention to give everyone a chance to speak up. Remind session attendees that every opinion counts. At the same time, give them a heads up that you’ll be attempting to give everyone equal time to be heard.
Provide equal opportunity to be heard
During any meeting, there’s always going to be some people who speak up more than others. The problem is, sometimes these people end up overpowering the others. Then, those attendees are left feeling frustrated and unheard.
To give EVERYONE a chance to submit their questions, thoughts, or ideas, give them the opportunity to do so ahead of time by submitting their questions electronically. As the brainstorming session moderator, you can collect those responses and utilize them throughout the brainstorming session.
By the way, an important part of creating an environment where your team is comfortable speaking up includes creating a great team culture. Here are five ways to do just that.
Another way to give everyone a chance to speak up is by empowering those who might not feel comfortable doing so. A great way to do this is be enabling anonymity features for online question and answer or live polling software.
When attendees can submit their questions or comments anonymously, they’re more likely to speak out. At the same time, it gives them the confidence to ask questions or voice concerns they’d be hesitant about sharing publicly.
Consider those who can’t attend
Right now, it can be more challenging than ever to get your entire group into the same space–whether virtual or in-person. Battling different time zones and schedules, not all of your team members might be able to attend at the same time.
But here’s what you can do: allow those who can’t attend to submit their questions/comments ahead of time. Then, address their submissions during your virtual brainstorming session. Make sure to record your session so when they watch it back they’ll see their voice and opinion was taken into account.
Set an agenda
A brainstorming session can quickly go off the rails if it doesn’t follow a schedule of some sort.
While you don’t necessarily need to plan it down to the minute, a general outline of the session is recommended.
Perhaps the first half of the session will be devoted to brainstorming. The second half is reserved for discussion. Whether you display a timer as you go or periodically inform members how much time is left, these time limits help keep everyone on track.
We’d love to hear from you: how do you empower attendees to speak up during brainstorming sessions?
What are the biggest challenges you face in doing so? Comment down below!