Tips to encourage everyone to contribute

Regardless of the type of meeting, it often happens that a few stakeholders have a monopoly on attendees, whether it’s a public meeting or a corporate brainstorm. Introverted people, new recruits, or unenthusiastic collaborators can fade, even if they have good ideas…

By using a few brainstorming strategies, you can gather everyone’s suggestions, increasing your chances of creating solutions, products, or methods that your collaborators will feel more involved in, because they will feel like they have contributed.

Brainstorming meetings that use both traditional methods and technological solutions help teams gather a wide range of information from all participants, regardless of their profile.

Why do some employees not participate in brainstorming meetings?

Before hosting an extensive brainstorming session, you should first understand why some people are reluctant to participate. Among the possible explanations:

  • They are introverted and do not like verbal interaction or being the center of attention;
  • They no longer had faith in this process and seldom saw their contribution realized;
  • They prefer to focus on their tasks and think that meetings are a waste of time;
  • They fear that honest and open participation on their part will lead to them losing their jobs;
  • Some may also feel that these workshops are disorganized and lack guidance.

12 Tips to Boost Your Colleagues’ Engagement Before, During and After a Brainstorming Session

Brainstorming exercises, techniques, and tools used effectively before, during and after the meeting increase engagement by giving your employees the opportunity to contribute according to their preferred style of communication.

For those who prefer not to let their ideas slip away during a meeting, give everyone the freedom to participate using a silent method.

Some are more suitable for use during a meeting, others before or after. Classic methods adapted to face-to-face workshops. Digital brainstorming tools make it possible to organize meetings on site and remotely.

Before the brainstorming session

  1. Create a detailed agenda and share it with attendees a few days before the meeting. This allows everyone to think about their contributions up front without rushing.
  2. With the instant messaging tool, create a custom group to share ideas before your meeting. This chat software allows participants to post links or files in an organized and archived manner prior to your meetings.
  3. Ask the participants to write a short presentation to share with the group to help their colleagues understand their preferred means of communication. This is especially useful for new teams, new employees, or external speakers. This introduction should include the name of the person, position, department or team reporting to it, official contact information, work style, areas of expertise and preferred method of communication. These documents must be accessible in a common space. Facilitators can use this information to adapt the communication techniques used during brainstorming workshops.
  4. Prioritize potential brainstorming topics using the voting tool. This information helps you more easily identify topics of interest to your contributors.

During a brainstorming session

  1. Create a deck of cards with challenges. Select a different topic for each of them and distribute it to the participants. Then ask them to quickly formulate an idea, eg in less than a minute. When the time is up, collect the cards and deal them differently. Plan enough cards so everyone can have one at each meeting, even if you have to include whimsical topics to fill a gap, like “weird holiday ideas” or “what would you do if you won the lottery?” Collect all the cards once all participants have contributed. You can use the ideas collected to develop your brainstorming and strategic planning process.
  2. Use a digital whiteboard tool like Lucidspark to collect notes during the meeting. With this program, participants can provide notes as they would with label paper, but more efficiently. Digital whiteboards allow contributors to send in their notes from their laptop, phone or tablet, eliminating the need to get up and wander around the board or wall. In addition, Lucidspark automatically saves ratings and comments, and offers timer and voting features.
  3. During the meeting, start with an icebreaker activity and get the participants interested before the actual brainstorming begins. This workshop does not need to be related to your brainstorming topic, its goal is to relax in the atmosphere. For example, you can choose an activity of the type “What are you doing with this object?” » In this game, choose an ordinary object (ladder, chair, etc.) and ask the participants to find as many creative uses of it as possible in a given time, for example two minutes. The answers can be goofy or silly; It is just about creativity.
  4. Consider a visual brainstorming exercise. It allows all of your employees to participate and seek a different part of their mind. For example, start with some topics that you want to develop. Record these traits on several large sheets of paper or on the whiteboard. Pass out the sheets and ask each participant to hand in an illustration of their idea. Continue until everyone has had a chance to contribute to the different topics. Show the papers to the group and review them one by one. Do not forget to record the results of the exercise.

After the brainstorming session

  1. Give attendees time to add contributions, comments, or questions via email or chat — your colleagues may have a lot of new ideas they’d like to share next. This extra time will be given according to your project deadlines, it can be the end of the day, the weekend, or more than a week.
  2. Collect all the information processed and collected during the brainstorming meeting. Share the results using the mind map tool to visually represent the conclusions of your discussion in an easy and understandable way. You may choose to share this data with strategic external contributors that you think may be useful to the project.
  3. Do not hesitate to start over if you do not get satisfactory results. It is possible that the meeting does not produce the expected effects. If so, you may need to rethink the topics to be covered and solicit contributions again using a new strategy. It is also possible to save good ideas for later or for another project.
  4. Prioritize results taking into account constraints such as time, budget and scope. Many users use the classic Effort/Effect Matrix to sort through their thoughts. You can do this exercise on your own, with a small number of stakeholders or with your whole group.

Comprehensive brainstorming techniques are very useful for your projects, as they allow you to gather ideas from all participants and not just from extroverts. Plans that take into account everyone’s contribution are more easily supported by the whole group. By combining classic brainstorming methods with digital tools, you can easily gather and prioritize your strategic information into an effective project plan.

Juliette Gautier, Marketing Specialist at Lucidspark

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