Your organization’s members should be helping to keep ideas fresh at meetings! They come from a wide range of backgrounds and bring a wealth of experience with them, including different perspectives and knowledge of activity ideas you may not have thought of before. Diversity is a powerful tool in groups and you should be putting it to work for you. One of the ways to do this is with brainstorming sessions, which should be set up occasionally within your organization to discuss activities and modes of operation.
- Good brainstorming sessions start with an explanation of the purpose of the meeting and a clear description of the desired outcome, whether it be more activities, a fresh approach to advertising, or another goal.
- Set the rules of the session before you begin. Allow a few minutes for quiet thought, ask that no one give immediate feedback (positive or negative!) on any suggestions, and make it clear that no idea, no matter how wild or apparently off-topic, will be discouraged. Shoot for a large quantity of suggestions.
- Once ideas start rolling, examine your own reactions to them as well as the group’s. Often our impulse is to dismiss an idea immediately if it approaches a problem in a way that is outside our comfort zone, or seems tangential. Remember there was a reason the idea was suggested which may not be immediately apparent to you, and could pose a new opportunity to your group.
- After a while, suggestions will slow to a halt. Thank the group as a whole for their work and give a few more minutes for silent contemplation. Encourage your members to combine unfamiliar ideas together to stimulate creative solutions, and then begin a discussion to build ideas into workable plans. Remind your group not to dismiss or be critical of any of the ideas! There’s no faster way to kill a good session than to make people nervous about having their ideas or opinions crushed.