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Jan 5, 2023

How to Get The Most of Your Virtual Brainstorming Sessions as a Remote Team

Brainstorming is one of the most important parts of the creative process. Check out these best practices and virtual brainstorming tools to host effective meetings in 2023!

The Hugo Team
The Hugo Team
The team transforming meeting productivity
How to Get The Most of Your Virtual Brainstorming Sessions as a Remote Team

With the increase in remote and hybrid work, more meetings are held virtually, namely brainstorming sessions. There are many strategies to adapt these meetings to a virtual environment successfully. This blog post will break down how to have virtual brainstorming meetings so you and your team can effectively collaborate on ideas and solutions.

What is a brainstorming session? 

Brainstorming is one of the most important parts of the creative process. A brainstorming meeting involves employees coming together to think of creative ways to solve problems. The topics of the meeting vary: the discussion could be centred on the requirements in choosing a digital banking platform, marketing campaign ideas, a design brainstorm on how HR visuals should be displayed, or even strategies to mitigate risk in updating a cloud-based contact centre software.

Sometimes, a few voices can overpower the group, but creating a meeting agenda can help ensure everyone has a chance to list their talking points during the virtual brainstorming meetings.  

Why virtual brainstorming?

In the post-covid era, most companies are still operating in a remote work context to save money, and offer flexibility for their employees. Virtual brainstorming meetings are a consequence of this, and if done correctly, they can be just as effective as in-person sessions. When done correctly, virtual brainstorming meetings can be a more efficient and organized way to come up with your next big idea. 

How are in-person meetings different from virtual meetings?

As everyone who worked through the pandemic knows, virtual meetings have a very different dynamic to in-person sessions. When attending in-person meetings, no one can hide behind the ‘camera off’ function, which in turn makes communication much easier. 

In-person meetings also encourage conversational flow without the cumbersome task of turning your microphone on, which allows for more natural communication. However, communication strategies can be adapted to a virtual context. For example, if your team needs to choose a new trading software, one communication strategy could be to ask everyone to list their pros and cons in the meeting note before voting on the best software.  

Advantages of virtual brainstorming 

One of the main benefits of virtual brainstorming meetings is that everyone can join, regardless of location. Further, virtual meetups allow collaboration with virtual whiteboard tools to facilitate brainstorming, and meeting minutes apps to summarize the conversation. This saves you the cumbersome task of passing around sheets of paper and summarising ten different people’s notes. 

Tips on How to Brainstorm in a Virtual Meeting 

Define the purpose and the goal of the meeting 

In order to have a successful brainstorm, you need to define the purpose of your meeting clearly. Create a specific question to answer. Instead of ‘What e-commerce trends can we leverage? How can we improve our online presence?’, ask, ‘How can we create marketing materials targeted towards our ideal customer profile?’. Then, send the question to attendees so they can come to the meeting with specific ideas. 

Prepare a meeting agenda beforehand 

Running a successful remote team meeting is all about preparation, so creating an agenda is essential. Start off with your goals so that employees know what they are working towards, and make sure information is captured in the meeting minutes.

Next, set ground rules to ensure you meet your goal with respectful collaboration e.g. ‘don’t interrupt’. Afterwards, build on your original goal using questions for your team to work through. Using prompts like a SWOT analysis template will help you create a thorough plan and encourage creativity. Finally, allocate time slots for each issue so that you cover everything. Don’t forget to include voting, questions and action items, so everyone knows their responsibilities. 

Try Fellow.app’s brainstorming meeting agenda template

Set a time limit for the meeting 

If there is no time limit, meetings can go on forever, with ideas being debated and issues passed back and forth. Make sure to not only set a time limit for the meeting in its entirety but for each individual section. 

Establishing time limits will mean you make decisive plans and have clear next steps by the end of the meeting as there will be no time for further debates or discussions. Also, setting time limits shows you are aware and respectful of employees' time and other duties. 

Designate a meeting facilitator 

Before the meeting begins, make sure you assign a chair to ensure everyone respects the meeting rules and follows the agenda. This assigned person will ensure the time limit is respected and talking points are addressed. The meeting facilitator can also act as a moderator that checks that everyone is involved in the discussion and that ideas are not missed. 

Schedule a follow-up meeting if necessary 

If you have assigned tasks and set specific goals, it might be useful to schedule another meeting. This will allow you to check employee progress and hold people accountable for their tasks, referring to the action points at the end of your last agenda. Fellow.app’s carry incomplete talking points forward feature is helpful to use when a follow-up meeting is required. 

Use collaborative tools and technology 

Virtual brainstorming meetings are great because you can collaborate in real-time on documents without having to transfer hard-copy ideas to plans after the meeting. These tools can either be meeting note apps, task management tools, or software designed for brainstorming specifically. even Using collaborative virtual brainstorming tools allows everyone to share their ideas. They are also a great way to ensure you leave the meeting with clear next steps.

Also, using collaborative tools means you have a record of your ideas and their development which you can revisit if needed. You can therefore keep a series of virtual event ideas or promotions in a secure location, waiting until the right time for them to be implemented.

Top Virtual Brainstorming Tools

Fellow.app

Fellow is a meeting note app that builds collaborative meeting agendas to help encourage accountability, productivity and communication in a remote context by taking meeting notes. The software includes meeting templates, action item tracking, 360 feedback and so much more. 

Fellow is free for up to 10 users, and the paid plans start at $5 per person, per month. 

Clickup

Clickup is a project management tool that is considered the one-stop for workplace management. It includes task tracking, document management, a whiteboard feature, team chats, goal tracking, and so much more. 

Clickup business starts at $12 a month. 

Rock.so 

Rock.so integrates chats with project management to keep your team up to date. It allows you to assign tasks instantly following a conversation to ensure your team is aligned. For asynchronous brainstorming sessions, Rock allows ideas to be seamlessly added as tasks. 

Rock.so starts at $29.99 a month. 

nTask

nTask is a project management tool that allows you to break down complex projects into manageable tasks. Once you’ve completed a brainstorming meeting, creating follow-up tasks to ensure next steps are completed is imperative. nTask includes a project planning software, collaborative boards for brainstorming and task management. Its easy-to-use interface makes planning a breeze with drag and drop. 

nTask starts from $8 a month.   

Parting Advice 

As you schedule your next brainstorming meeting, remember to plan with a meeting agenda template and executive with a meeting note-taking app or virtual whiteboard. And, don’t forget that no idea is too wild or impossible to achieve! All crazy ideas should be welcomed as you never know which will be the winning one. 

About the author

Grace Lau is the Director of Growth Content at Dialpad, an AI-powered cloud communication platform for better and easier team collaboration through services such as international calls. She has over 10 years of experience in content writing and strategy. Currently, she is responsible for leading branded and editorial content strategies, partnering with SEO and Ops teams to build and nurture content. You can connect with Grace on LinkedIn.

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