We all wish to be a creativity magnet – a well full of fresh ideas summoned at the snap of our fingers. Everyone feels creativity is a skill they could do with more but we can’t all be Warhol’s and Stephin King’s, right? That’s where brainstorming techniques come in.
For the 99% of us that aren’t generational sparks of inspiration, there’s hope. Instead of relying on natural ability, we use techniques to produce creative concepts.
The style of the technique employed for creating new ideas is brainstorming.
Brainstorming is a powerful weapon when wielded correctly, especially if you follow these foolproof brainstorming techniques.
Now that I’ve got your attention, here’s a breakdown of what brainstorming is.
What Is Brainstorming?
Brainstorming is a process designed for problem solving and inspiration. Brainstorming is a practical resource because it uses specific techniques to generate ideas.
When brainstorming, work in a group or go solo, it’s up to you. Depending on the project, it may be better to form a team. Group storming sessions are popular in many fields these days. Not only does it create new and exciting ideas, but it’s also a team bonding experience.
Collaboration goes a long way in nurturing a positive work atmosphere.
Whether choosing to work in a group or by yourself, it comes down to the techniques employed. The field of brainstorming techniques is expanding, and here are 10 techniques to try out instead of searching for your thinking cap.
9 Easy Brainstorming Techniques
- Create a Checklist
- Mind Mapping
- Build a Swipe File
- The 6 Thinking Hats
- Lateral Thinking
- Social Media
- Research Other Industries
- Google Trends
- Get Some Fresh Air
1. Create a Checklist
A simple yet effective technique is creating a checklist.
We are naturally curious when young, but as we grow older, we tend to become rigid in our thinking process. We look at a subject in its entirety and forget that tiny functions make the whole.
Using a checklist breaks down a topic into its core values. From these core values, an abundance of ideas come to life.
Start by taking your topic and ask the following questions –
Proceed to write down everything that comes to mind with each question; leave no stone unturned.
The result is a wealth of mini-topics to base your content form. A great tip is to find a way to link all the questions and build a series from it!
2. Mind Mapping
Any good brainstorming session will include a form of mind mapping. Also known as a spider diagram, mind mapping is a diagram based brainstorming technique.
The beauty of mind mapping is it’s simple and effective in both group and solo brainstorming.
First, place the topic in the middle of a piece of paper or a whiteboard. Next, write down 4-8 general ideas about the subject and put them around the original word. From these generalisations, start branching out the details that fill into the sub-category.
An easy example is “fruit.” After the word fruit, move to different types of fruits. Keep branching off as far as possible, including taste, colours, plant type, what season it grows in, and so on. Mind mapping programs such as LucidChart, Stormboard and MindMeister brings group collaboration and accessibility to the brainstorming process.
3. Build a Swipe File
I like to call this one going “down the rabbit hole.” A swipe file is a folder on your computer where you collect ideas for future content.
It doesn’t need to make sense at the time, but later on, the contents will spring inspiration.
To build a swipe file, visit all websites that interest you and may have useful information. Save articles, pictures, quotes and anything else of value. I like to throw in random items as well because you never know what will trigger an explosive surge of creativity.
The most important part of a swipe-file is organization. If everything is all over the place, it will look like junk. Use folders to organize; however you desire.
Folders for photos, subjects, dates and websites is a great start. From there, develop the swipe file as needed.
A couple of hours every few weeks is more than enough for a wealth of fresh content.
4. The 6 Thinking Hats
The 6 thinking hats is an upgraded version of the checklist. Invented by Edward De Bono, the 6 thinking hats are a staple among brainstorming techniques.
The technique involves breaking down a subject into 6 “hats,” and viewing the topic in different fashions and thus finding new angles.
The 6 thinking hats are as follows and best done in order.
- White Hat -Facts: Use all available information and data. Analyze what you already know and view past trends. Find out what you know and don’t know, and what information it would take to bridge the gap.
- Red Hat – Feelings: Use your emotional feelings toward the subject. Look at how others would feel about it and why it deserves the emotional reaction.
- Black Hat – Negativity: What are the negatives and drawbacks? Why does the product or topic cause problems, or what issues affect it?
Find loopholes and flaws that may damage credibility. The black hat helps shore up problems as people tend to look at the positive when creating content.
- Yellow Hat – Benefits: Now that the negatives are out of the way, what are the positives of the topic? Who does it help, and why do you want to create content?
- Green Hat – Creativity – Using any other brainstorming ideas or what you’ve gained from the thinking hats, start writing ideas down. Anything is welcome at this point.
- Blue Hat – Process: Leaders of brainstorming sessions wear the blue hat. They weigh in on the ideas created and offer positive reinforcement or criticism on the results.
As you see, the 6 thinking hats is a thorough brainstorming technique. The system is a versatile one, use it in other faces of life.
5. Lateral Thinking
The art of lateral thinking is brought to you by no other than Edward De Bono. De Bono is a pioneer in modern-day brainstorming, inventing many of the techniques used today.
Lateral thinking is a simple process that generates a big picture. I like to think of it as deconstructing an issue.
An example is dishwashers. My goal is to sell dishwashers, boring, right? Everybody already knows what they do, how do I write content to sell them?
Starting at dishwashers, next, I choose a subject that represents them. I decide to write household appliances. Going from there, I use the family tree of devices, asking how they’re made. Next, I choose to dig into the pieces that go into this specific dishwasher. What’s their quality? Are they stainless steel or cheap plastic?
Eureka! It turns out, the dishwasher in question is the only in the world to use a new insulation system. Thus reducing the energy required to wash dishes.
Through lateral thinking, we discover new angles and topics to base our content.
6. Social Media
You’d be hard-pressed to go a single day on social media without finding a slew of events taking place. Social media is a bottomless pit for content ideas, but there’s more to it than scrolling through your feed.
Hashtags are vital to the function of most social media platforms. Hashtags provide an opportunity for content creators to connect to their fan base, all while promoting posts and cross-referencing other topics.
Luckily for us, this means trends are easy to follow by the number of times a word gets hashtagged.
Speaking of trends, it seems like every single day, there’s a new “awareness” theme. These are perfect opportunities to cater to content around subjects that will be trending heavily for a couple of days to weeks at a time.
Find “awareness days” and build a calendar for them. Once the day is coming up, launch the content and let the good times roll.
Another tip for brainstorming content ideas on social media is to look through comments. Find relevant posts and pages to your genre and sift through comments. People are quick to relay what they want to see or read, so give them what they want!
7. Research Other Industries
It’s easy to get stuck looking at the competition for inspiration. It’s a viable method for new content. But, let’s think outside the box a little here. Instead of recomposing the content your sector’s created, look outside to other industries.
Search the web for content and articles that are flourishing and dissect them. What did they write that was so appealing? Is it the style, information or the photos?
Create a file on Google documents and compile all the best pages and ideas and work them for yourself.
8. Google Trends
The Google search engine is a monster. Every second it records 40,000 searches, equalling to 1.2 trillion a year! That’s a staggering number, one that’s quickly capitalised on.
Google Trends provides insights on a variety of different trends around the world. Filters break down the results by day, location and most importantly, recently trending.
Like social media, Google provides ample topics in which people are searching for as you read this article.
But remember, stay on your toes, what was trending today may be all but forgotten tomorrow. Don’t get caught creating irrelevant content.
9. Get Some Fresh Air
Nothing clears the mind like going or walk. Our thoughts easily become cluttered, and when they are, it’s challenging to generate new ideas.
Taking a step back and getting fresh air is often when inspiration comes to us. You don’t need to go for a long walk in the park, but stop performing what you’re doing and step away from it. Grab a book, get some exercise or play your guitar, whatever it is, put space between yourself and the topic.
It’s amazing what comes to mind when we’re not feverishly worried.
Key Takeaways On Brainstorming Techniques
Implementing brainstorming techniques focuses on nurturing creative habits. Ideas don’t always form unless we logically work through the motions.
Brainstorming saves you much time and unnecessary headaches. Here’s what we’ve learned today.
- It’s all in the technique. Get the process down, and the content creates itself.
- Use mind mapping, checklists, lateral thinking and the 6 thinking hats.
- Daily trends and social media provide a wealth of inspiration.
- Look at other industries and see what works for them.
- Take a step back when nothing comes to mind and work on another task.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning about brainstorming techniques for better content ideas.
Follow us on Instagram @advesadigital for new tips daily on how to build your business and brand presence.