Last updated Jun 2020
The guide to mastering online brainstorming
Iris Latour,
Customer Insights Manager at Miro
Hailing from the design world, Iris has written articles and facilitated workshops at conferences on design thinking, business design, culture design, and the creative ideation process.

3 Brainstorming Examples to Inspire Creativity

Need some inspiration to help you set up a brainstorm? You’ve come to the right place! In this chapter of our brainstorming guide, we’ll walk through three real-life examples that will stir your creativity and leave you feeling ready to hit the ground running. Whether you’re leading a remote brainstorm, an in-person meeting, or a hybrid, this is a great place to start.

Example 1: Remote brainstorming

The Set-Up: You're a marketing team lead for a meditation app. The whole company is remote. There are a good number of customers who use the free version of our app, but people are unwilling to pay for the paid version. You’re looking for ways to change that. It's time for an online brainstorm.

The Problem: What marketing strategies can we use to get people to sign up for the paid version of our app?

The Brainstorm:

You’re the facilitator. You've chosen your online brainstorming tool to set the virtual stage. Before the meeting, you email everyone to let them know:

  1. The problem you wish to solve

  2. When the brainstorm will be held

  3. If there's any pre-work they need to complete (like reviewing data or reading an article)

  4. That they should set aside 10 minutes to think about the problem before the session

You want to keep the first meeting small: just six people, including yourself. You invite a content producer, a product marketing manager, a UX designer, and a demand generation manager, and a product manager. It’s a good cross-functional mix.

  • On the day of the brainstorm, you start by laying the ground rules. You’re using a virtual whiteboard to record notes and give everyone a chance to participate in the way they prefer: chatbox, comments, sticky notes, sketches, or just by talking.

  • You present the problem: What marketing strategies can we use to get people to sign up for the paid version of our app?

  • For the first five minutes, you allow people some space to write down their thoughts. This warms them up.

  • Then you use the next 10 minutes to play a word association game to get the ideas flowing. Some people write down the words that come to mind for them, while others speak them aloud.

  • As the ideas start to flow, you stop the word association game and have people vote on their favorite words from the session.

  • For the next 20 minutes, everyone uses the words from the game to start throwing out ideas. No one is allowed to criticize anyone else. Some people are sketching at home, and they use the whiteboard to show everyone their sketches.

  • You use a mind map or sticky notes to write down the ideas that are generated.

  • At the end of the session, you wrap up by setting the stage for the next meeting, in which you’ll vote on the most actionable ideas.

Try this brainstorming starter kit template to kick off a session like this with your remote team:

Example 2: In-person brainstorming

The Set-Up: We’re a design team at a SaaS company. No one works remotely; everyone is in the office. Since we launched our new website, we’ve gotten fewer content downloads. We’re trying to figure out how to change that.

The Problem: How can we get more people to download the content on our site?

The Brainstorm:

You’re the facilitator. Before the meeting, you email everyone to let them know:

  1. The problem you wish to solve

  2. When and where the brainstorm will be held

  3. That they should set aside 10 minutes to think about the problem before the session.

The design team isn’t very large: just you and one other person. You decide it would be good to hear from some cross-functional partners too. So you invite the head of content, a copywriter, and a product designer.

The brainstorm is held in a quiet environment, away from the rest of the office. You make sure there are some snacks and drinks on hand. When everyone arrives, you start by laying the ground rules. You also explain the brainstorming technique you'll be using to sketch out ideas, like Crazy Eights.

  • You present the problem: How can we get more people to download the content on our site?

  • Some participants are visual thinkers, while others are not. To give everyone a chance to participate in the way that makes them uncomfortable, you break them into pairs. To warm up, the pairs each come up with a sketch. They have 10 minutes to do so.

  • They then pass the sketch to the next pair, who come up with an idea based on the sketch. You repeat the exercise until everyone has seen the other participants’ sketches.

  • You then bring the group together to build on these ideas. When the conversation stalls, you get the ideas flowing again with a word association game.

  • At the end of the session, you wrap up by setting the stage for the next meeting. Everyone will come together to group ideas based on their differences and similarities.

Example 3: Hybrid brainstorming

The Set-Up: We’re a development team at a brand new startup. Some of us work remotely, while others are in the office. We have a few ideas for how to break into a new market, but we’re not sure which ones are best.

The Problem: How should we break into a new market?

The Brainstorm:

You’re the facilitator. Your office is small, so you know everyone and see them every day – but still, you email them to give them the basics before your brainstorm. Your email includes:

  1. The problem you wish to solve

  2. When and where the brainstorm will be held

  3. Instructions to set aside 10 minutes to think about the problem before the session.

The whole company is just five people, plus four consultants. Still, you think that inviting the CEO and CTO might intimidate people and make them unwilling to share their thoughts as freely as they should.

You hold the brainstorm off-site, so people can relax and concentrate. You have your computer on hand so two of your contractors can dial in.

  • When everyone arrives, you start by laying the ground rules. You’re using Miro to record notes and give everyone a chance to participate in the way they prefer: chatbox, sticky notes, sketches, or just by talking.

  • You present the problem: How should we break into a new market?

  • You use digital sticky notes to try some rapid ideation, giving everyone 10 minutes to come up with as many ideas as possible.

  • The participants start to get tired about eight minutes in. You have them switch to the six thinking hats method. This method encourages you to wear different “hats” and think about a problem from various angles: thinking about the available data, using your intuition, looking at potentially negative outcomes, thinking about positive outcomes, looking at a problem creatively, and thinking about how to control a process.

  • At the end of the session, you wrap up by setting the stage for the next meeting. You’ll bring the whole company together to vote on ideas.

Wondering how others brainstorm ideas? Check out Miroverse to see brainstorming templates created by teams who use Miro!

Ready to try brainstorming remotely? Learn about Miro’s free online brainstorming tool.

Looking to read more about remote collaboration? Start at Chapter 1 of our guide!

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