Does virtual brainstorming work?

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Virtual brainstorming is a great way to collaborate with remote team members.

The corporate sector is increasingly going global, so don't be surprised if you find yourself collaborating with a team member on the other side of the world.

To facilitate this, online meeting tools have become a must-have.

However, in many ways, virtual meetings are still an unexplored frontier and remote workers are learning how to manage various types of interactions with their colleagues. One such example is that of brainstorming.

At some point, irrespective of geographical location, you may need to gather all your team members for a brainstorming session. The trouble is that this type of catch-up must adhere to the rules of conducting a virtual meeting as well as the conventional techniques used in a face-to-face discussion.

Virtual brainstorming is productiveVirtual brainstorming can be quite productive.

However, if you run it correctly, the results can be quite pleasing. In fact, a 2007 research paper published in the science journal Computers in Human Behaviour found that participants in virtual brainstorming sessions tend to be more creative.

Why does virtual brainstorming work? 

Corporate guru and Harvard Business Review blogger Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic attributes the success of virtual brainstorming to three aspects: anonymity, a lack of production blocking and diversity of ideas. 

People also find it easy to share their thoughts in a web conference because of the anonymity it offers.

Production blocking happens when the group size in a face-to-face brainstorming session is increased to more than six. According to the author, this is when loud and dominant participants take over the discussion and prevent any fruitful progress from taking place.

People also find it easy to share their thoughts in a web conference because of the anonymity it offers.

In a virtual brainstorming session, which research suggests remains productive irrespective of group size, this issue does not arise.

Finally, if managed properly, these conferences can lead to a vast range of ideas. This is based on the fact that people tend to brainstorm better individually than in a group. A conference call offers the best of both worlds by offering seclusion as well as the opportunity to discuss and build on others' suggestions.

Here are three ways you can run a successful brainstorming session:

1. A white board

Web conferencing lends itself quite well to sharing documents, conducting polls and surveys in real time, and making presentations. 

Since one of the rules of brainstorming is to jot every idea down, you could apply the same concept to your virtual session and share it with the participants.

2. Prepare the attendees

Nancy Settle-Murphy, seasoned facilitator and founder of training company Guided Insights, says sending materials in advance can help. It is also a good idea to run the group through a short presentation to get those creative juices flowing.

3. Record the call 

When everyone is engaged and engrossed in a conversation about ideas, it is best not to interrupt to clarify something you may have missed. Call recording is an excellent option to ensure everything discussed is noted without impeding the creative process. 

Topics: Web Conferencing, Teleconferencing

Last updated on June 26, 2015 09:11

Eureka Editor

Written by Eureka Editor