6 tips for more efficient strategy sessions
Brainstorming is often a meandering exercise that ends up wasting time and
accomplishing very little.
That’s not to say group strategy sessions aren’t crucial. They give junior
employees the chance to shine, senior employees the opportunity to flex
their creative muscles and teams the chance to create cohesive, inspired
plans for clients. However, fruitful, productive gatherings require
structure, preparation and planning.
Here are six ways to keep your team on track and conduct better, more
effective brainstorming sessions:
1. Set expectations ahead of time.
Some people shine during brainstorming; others need more pushing. Either
way, it’s not the brainstorm moderator’s responsibility to make sure
everyone feels involved—it’s up to employees to jump into the conversation.
The best way to push employees to get involved is to set guidelines and
expectations ahead of time, expressing how vital it is they come prepared
to speak up.
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2. Provide pre-meeting materials.
To ensure that everyone’s prepared, share briefs, outlines or bullet points
ahead of the gathering. This gives employees a head start, and it gives
them the opportunity to do their own “brainstorm before the brainstorm.”
Introverts, especially, will appreciate the opportunity to thoroughly
review the agenda to prepare thoughts ahead of time.
3. Keep the groups small.
Large groups rarely accomplish (or agree on) much.
The more people you stuff into a room, the easier it is for employees to
“hide,” disappear or tune out. Assembling a big crowd also makes it tough
for some employees to get a word in edgewise, and you run the risk of
creating a disruptive environment filled with chatter, side conversations
and irrelevant tangents.
Brainstorm planners should be judicious with the invite list. Eight to 10
people is about right.
4. Provide snacks.
Who doesn’t like free snacks? To avoid a mutiny, keep your gathering well
fed and well hydrated. Also, take time for regular breaks to let everyone
stand up and recharge.
If you’ve scheduled an all-day brainstorm session, offer breakfast, catered
lunches in the afternoon and, if it’s a long day, an evening happy hour to
ensure everyone feels rewarded.
5. Keep it brief.
If you spend hours brainstorming for just one client, you’ll quickly run
out of creative steam. Instead, prioritize what’s most important, then work
your way down from the top objective.
Limit your specific campaign brainstorming sessions to one or two hours.
You can give people the option to send additional ideas via email after the
meeting, but sitting and requesting ideas for one specific campaign for
multiple hours is typically a waste of time.
6. Share results with your team.
Whenever your team puts time, effort and resources into brainstorming, make
sure they hear the results.
Whether it’s sharing how a client loved a specific teammate’s idea or
expressing how excited the marketing team was with a tagline, the more
feedback you provide, the more confident your employees become. The more
confident and empowered your employees feel, the better brainstorms you’ll
have moving forward.
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