Productivity Updated on: 5 April 2019

How to Run Productive Brainstorming Sessions in Virtual Teams

Productive Brainstorming Sessions in Virtual Remote Distributed Teams


Since the 1950’s, brainstorming has been an important part of a team’s creative process. Advertising executive, Alex Osborn, first introduced brainstorming in his book entitled Your Creative Power. He thought group brainstorming should be more effective at producing ideas, as everyone has a chance to share their ideas together.

Why Is Brainstorming Important to Your Team?

  • Helps to come up with a large quantity of ideas
  • Allows for variety of ideas to be created
  • Helps to organize thoughts
  • Helps with motivation of team members to productively accomplish the end result

Today, unfortunately, groups tend to shy away from this particular step of innovation. Studies have shown that group brainstorming can often be less effective  than individual brainstorms. Not only is it a challenge to do it in a team, but what about when you’re working in a virtual or distributed team and can’t get everyone in the same room to jot down their ideas?

Dangers of Inefficient Brainstorming Session

Many cringe when the word ‘brainstorm’ comes up within teamwork. Some problems which can occur during a negative brainstorming session:

  • The possibility of all members talking at once is high, which ultimately ends in someone not being heard.
  • Too many ideas thrown in at once which leads to disorganization and potentially great ideas being missed.
  • Some members may not work up to their potential as they rely on the team to complete ideas for them.
  • People can have great ideas during a session but are too nervous to project their opinion in front of others for fear of being judged or criticized.
  • One dominant idea, good or bad, can be replicated by other members of the team, which will lead for  the session to be counterproductive. This creates false anchoring which means that team members will only look at that one dominant idea and not generate other more creative ideas.

Don’t despair, there are effective ways to have more productive brainstorming sessions, especially when working with a virtual team! Here are some tips on how to run brainstorming sessions in Conceptboard.

meeting notes template

Brainstorming Sessions Done Right For Virtual Teams

While working in Conceptboard, your team can have real-time collaboration to keep the communication flowing and organization throughout your boards. Follow these different ways to alleviate tension throughout the process of brainstorming:

Creating sections for each teammember in Conceptboard

Set Up a Board Ahead of Time

Create sections for each member of your team, so everyone has their own space to include their thoughts and ideas.

Creating these assigned sections will give your more introverted teammates a chance to have their thoughts and ideas heard. It will also ensure that time will not be wasted at the start of a session as everyone knows exactly where to include their ideas and it will make for easy export when it is finished.

No matter how many ideas are created, your boards will stay organized. You can easily invite everyone to the board that is relevant to the project at hand.

brainstorming techniques time

Set a Timer

Set an initial amount of time for your team to jot down ideas. You choose how long you would like your team  to spend generating ideas. A good rule of thumb is to start with 10 minutes to give everyone time to write.

The shorter the sessions are, the better your team can generate original ideas and not have one dominant idea replicated. The chances of false anchoring will be limited and it will also help with the communication flow to not have everyone talk over each other. Everyone has time to jot their own ideas down without interruption.

You can repeat idea generated sessions as many times as you need.

Giving feedback on brainstorming sessions in Conceptboard

Give Feedback on Ideas

After the set time is up, all members can go around the board and read all other ideas. Ask questions by using either the comment box or placing sticky notes next to each section.  This will ensure that all jotted down ideas will be read and discussed. no missed ideas or thoughts.

Depending on the needs of your team, you can have a voting session where everyone can mark the sticky notes and sections they thought were best. Hint: Make markings using an ellipse shape, highlighting tool, or freehand tool.

Hint: You can copy the sections with the most votes and paste it in a different location of the same board. That way, you save the original brainstorming session and can see the process as it is being developed. Nothing gets deleted, just more organized. 

Final Brainstorming Session in Conceptboard

Finalize the Session

You can repeat the previous processes as many times  as you need to generate the best ideas. Make sure to create a final section in the board to centralize all ideas worth keeping for the project.

Virtual brainstorming

Don’t End the Session Without Action!

Don’t give up at the finish line, your team has worked too hard for that! Have an in-depth conversation with your team to discuss what the next steps are. Make sure to @mention and assign tasks  to the relevant team members, so they know what their next steps are for the project.

Watch and see how small jotted down ideas can turn into powerful statements. Bringing organized coherent thoughts to the table will help with achieving the final goal of your project as quickly as possible.

Now it’s your turn, follow these quick tips for a positive Brainstorming session and see what your team can come up with! The possibilities are endless!


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