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How to Hold a Bomb Brainstorm With Your Chapter

Time to break out the Post-It notes.

There are an unlimited number of ideas in the world but for some reason, we can only ever think of approximately three when it comes time to actually brainstorm. And there's nothing more frustrating than having an entire team of people in a room and not being able to come up with something new! And fresh! And fun! But it's not your fault.

While some ideas may appear out of thin air, others need a little help. So the next time you want to brainstorm at a chapter meeting, or even with a small group of people, try this structure on for size and watch yourselves turn into geniuses.

1. Step Away From Technology

Photo by Rachel Williamson

For the purpose of this brainstorm, we want to close the laptops and break out the old-fashioned writing utensils. The only person who needs their laptop during the brainstorm is the person actually leading the brainstorm. Otherwise, find the nearest white board, grab a handful of pens, gather up the Post-It notes, and strap yourselves in. (See above for an actual photo of the Post-It notes following an HQ brainstorm.)

2. Fuel Up

cutie, tangerine, clif bar, studying, snacks, study snack, textbook, notes
Jocelyn Hsu

No one can think on an empty stomach. Ask your campus cafe to donate snacks to your meeting or pool your money together for a snack haul. Popcorn, nuts, clementines and granola bars are great snacks to munch on to get the creative juices flowing.

#SpoonTip: If you're struggling to build up your Spoon budget, try fundraising. In the words of our magical Community Marketing Manager, Maddy, "A fundraiser can be as simple as a bake sale or a big as a food truck festival."

3. Get Organized

Hiu Mei Ting

When leading the brainstorm, you'll want to have questions on deck that correspond with numbers to then be written on the Post-It notes. This is as easy as: "Question #1: If you were stranded on a desert island and could only have three foods with you, what would they be?" Give everyone 30-45 seconds to answer each question and remind them to make sure their Post-It note is numbered before moving on to the next question. Then, if you collect the Post-It notes at the end, you won't have to worry about keeping them in order. 

4. Have Fun With It

coffee, chocolate, tea, espresso
Alex Frank

This brainstorm isn't about coming up with The Best Idea Ever so let yourself and your team relax. Have some fun with it and write questions you know your members will have fun with as well. (See: Question #1 above.)

Some food-related questions you can ask are: What's your favorite dish to cook for yourself? What's one dish you're afraid to make but have always wanted to try? What's one dish you wish you had time to make? What's your favorite childhood memory around food? What's your favorite city for food in the U.S.? What about outside the U.S.? What's your favorite meal you've eaten in/outside of the U.S.? If you're in a relationship, what's your favorite meal you've made together? What's your favorite date spot? Your least favorite? If you're single, what's your favorite first date spot? Your least favorite? What's your go-to recipe when you're on your own for dinner?

And come up with some entirely on your own! And just like that, you have tons and tons of idea coming to life. If you want to give your members room to share, set a timer for another 30-45 seconds and ask if anyone wants to say what they wrote.

Now, your team can tackle everything from the best first date restaurants in [your area] to a round-up of recipes to make with your significant other to a feature on a life-changing dish in Tuscany. The possibilities are endless. 

5. Know Your Next Steps

chocolate, coffee
Sarah Hale

Before you wrap up your meeting, you want to have an idea of what your next steps are going to be. Do you want to save 10 minutes at the end of the meeting for everyone to create a certain number of pitches based on their Post-It notes? Do you want to collect the Post-It notes and put your own pitches into a spreadsheet for everyone to later claim? No matter which direction you choose to go in, be sure to communicate your next steps to your team so they know what to expect.

It's also good practice to communicate deadlines for when to complete next steps (ie: "Pitch your idea by the end of the day and have it written and submitted by this time next week."). You can even assign deadlines in a spreadsheet. While deadlines can feel intimidating, it provides your members with structure and accountability, which is often appreciated.

Now you and your team are ready to dive in headfirst to the Land of Ideas. Who knew all you needed was some popcorn and Post-It notes? While brainstorming can sometimes be scary, you and your members will (hopefully) now see that it can also be a lot of fun.