Free Resources:\u00a0Quizzes\u00a0|\u00a0PDF Transcript Transcript Hello and welcome back to the Skills 360 podcast. I\u2019m your host, Tim Simmons, and today I want to look at how to run an effective brainstorming session. Every company uses brainstorming sessions to generate ideas and solve problems. But do all brainstorming sessions generate good ideas? Does everyone leave a brainstorming session feeling like they accomplished something? Well, that often depends on the facilitator. And if you are the one to run the show, there are several things you need to think about. First comes good preparation. People need to head into a brainstorming session with a good idea about what they\u2019re supposed to be talking about. So if you\u2019re going to be running the session, don\u2019t keep the topic a mystery. Email everyone well in advance. Make sure people come with a head full of ideas. If they don\u2019t know what they\u2019ll be doing until they arrive, they may not be as prepared. Now, what happens when you start that meeting, when everyone\u2019s assembled and your job is to get things going? Well, you need to set the stage for a productive session, and one great way to do that is to set some ground rules. You might want to create a list of your own that includes things like \u201cturn off cell phones\u201d and \u201cno judgment.\u201d Or you might want to let the group brainstorm their own list. Let them determine what guidelines will ensure they feel safe and free to share ideas. Either way, you should write these guidelines down and display them for everyone to see. But remember, good brainstorming happens when people feel creative, free, and happy, so don\u2019t get too hard-nosed or serious by making a bunch of \u201crules.\u201d Once you\u2019ve got some guidelines, now you can pose the question or topic for the group. Right at the beginning, make sure you\u2019re encouraging and setting a positive tone. When someone produces an idea, respond with \u201cFantastic, thanks Ron, let\u2019s put that up here\u2026\u201d That helps create the right mood, and hopefully soon ideas will start flowing more freely. Once they do, don\u2019t interfere. Your job is to record, and to maintain the energy. Keep praising people with comments like \u201cGreat stuff Nora\u201d and \u201cRight on Wayne.\u201d Okay, but sometimes people don\u2019t express things perfectly clearly. And when this happens, you need to get some clarification. You can do this in a couple of ways. You can straight-up ask for explanation, like this, \u201cAll right Todd, thanks. Can you explain what you mean a bit more?\u201d Notice that we are still thanking and praising. You can also try restating what the person said to test an interpretation. For example, you could say something like, \u201cOkay Todd, thanks. So you\u2019re saying that we need to hire more staff? Is that right?\u201d Either way, don\u2019t get too bogged down in explanation. You just want things to be clear enough that everyone knows basically what\u2019s being suggested. Now, one of the most important principles of brainstorming is that we should separate idea generation from idea evaluation. So producing ideas and judging them are done separately. Brainstorming is all about the former, not the latter. So when someone says something like \u201cI don\u2019t know Todd, that probably wouldn\u2019t help at this point,\u201d you need to step in. But you should do it diplomatically, like this, \u201cOkay Todd, let\u2019s just focus on getting the ideas out for now and later we can take a closer look, sound good?\u201d What happens when people start evaluating ideas? They stop flowing. And that\u2019s not what we want. It doesn\u2019t matter how bad, silly, or crazy the ideas are. Keep the energy going, keep praising the participants, and keep writing things down. Those bad, silly, or crazy ideas can spark better, saner, more realistic ideas. And at the end of the day, the more ideas there are, the better. And you can move on to evaluating, paring down, and choosing later. So remember, stay positive, keep the energy flowing, praise the participants, and don\u2019t let people get too critical. If you can achieve all this, you\u2019ll have a great brainstorming session. Of course, getting people to talk is not always easy. Tune in next time and you\u2019ll hear some tips for getting things going and some help with the evaluation stage. That\u2019s all for today. So long. And see you again soon.