(Photo by MJ Kim/Getty Images for MTV)

There are two main groups that brainstorm — Businesses and families. Are you surprised to see families included?

When we talk about brainstorming it’s usually in a business context. Finding the answer to a problem or ideas for new products or procedures.

With families it might be husband and wife meeting about finances, child rearing, or the next family vacation.

Try These Brainstorming Tips

While one person can brainstorm on their own you’ll have better results with two or more participants. The more brains involved the more productive the process becomes.

Tip One: Start being silly

We’re talking about a mindset here. We need to lighten up and loosen up. Start with an exercise where one person starts a story in a few words and the next person adds to it and so on.

Where the story goes can be entertaining and helps everyone get comfortable expressing themselves.

Then you can move to tip two.

Tip Two: No ideas are off limits.

Every idea should be listed. Ducks towing a blimp should be considered if someone offers it.

The main reason for this is to keep ideas flowing.

If people start second-guessing what is, or is not a good idea defeats the purpose of brainstorming.

The worst thing that can happen in a brainstorming session is for someone to think his or her idea might be laughed at or rejected out of hand.

Everyone should feel free to go anywhere their mind takes them.

Tip Three: Build on Words

Suppose you were brainstorming for Wheat Montana Bakeries. You could start with the word bread.

What other words would go with bread? You might think toast, sandwich, butter, jelly, etc.

Sometimes the right word becomes a TV commercial. Fly The Friendly Skies, Oh What A Feeling, When You Care Enough To Send The Very Best.

Tip Four: Review the ideas and start the connection process.

Ducks towing a blimp might be the perfect idea for the upcoming Fourth of July parade float.

Or, instead of ducks, it might be a loan officer towing a mountain of paperwork. Substitution happens quite often in brainstorming.

Sometimes the ducks and blimps become a metaphor for something more realistic to someone else.

Some Final Thoughts

Our brains are amazing entities. We’re way more creative than we give ourselves credit for.

Great ideas come from the smallest crumb of inspiration. One thought leads to another and a great idea or concept is born.

What’s your biggest brainstorming idea?

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