There are days when I’m elbow deep in strategic planning, from research, audits and policies to communications strategy for my clients. However, at any time I could be called to put on my creative hat and brainstorm some fun / unique program ideas. Sound familiar? It’s a big shift from left to right brain, turning on your innovative, artsy and “think beyond the normal” mode.
If this scenario hasn’t occurred yet, oh it will, especially if you’re planning to stay in PR and communications. Today, creativity is a must … it’s a part of your daily practice. You’ve heard the saying, “communication is as much of an art as it is a science,” well that is more so now than ever.
At my former agency, we used brainstorming techniques to get us into a better and brighter idea mode with our teams. Here are five tips to help you expand your creativity in the brainstorm setting. Remember, creativity increases with more people, so you will want to grab your teammates, colleagues, peers, family, friends, etc., to get the creativity flowing to generate your next big idea:
1. Creativity should not be limited to the “creative” team. Who’s to say the HR director, receptionist or accounting person doesn’t have the same creativity or an interesting perspective that might play out well for your company or client. If these people have some type of interaction with the company, product, or service, then they too might have a great creative angle to share.
2. Avoid information overload at all costs with respect to the subject of the brainstorm. As much as the team needs to be briefed on the topic, you don’t need them to get “into the weeds” with too many of the details. This just might stifle the creative mindset. Actually knowing less allows you to create freely and to generate ideas that might not have surfaced with many of the informational restrictions.
3. Play the “build on ideas” game. Let the group start the process of sharing a thought and let other people finish it. You’re there to help facilitate the discussion as it progresses. Even if you think you’re the head creative guru, sit back and let others walk through the creative idea building process. While they do, you can map it out on the whiteboard. When everyone is done building the creative idea tree, you can then jump in, tie the pieces together and help to figure out the finishing touches on a crowdsourced idea.
4. Take your brainstorm sessions to a different setting. Let’s hope you don’t always have your creative sessions in an office, boardroom or small closed off conference room. Take your creativity into the middle of the department and sit on the floor, if you have to accommodate seating for large numbers. Use a portable whiteboard that travels where you take the group. And, if it’s a sunny day and there’s an elevator, then you can wheel your whiteboard outside!
5. Get out the fun toys! We used to have fun toys to play with at the office. These were especially helpful before a brainstorming session, from Nerf footballs and hula-hoops to squishy stress balls and Rubik’s Cubes. The goal was to play and relieve stress before a creative session. Then, you’ll find the ideas will come fast and furious, and much less uninhibited.
There are many ways to find your creative energy, with no shortage of people who want to get creative with you. What are your best tips to get yourself and your peers generating your next big idea?