9 Elements of Effective Creative Brainstorming Meetings

We’re honored to have Ben Stapley guest posting for us today. He is the executive pastor at The Life Christian Church — and he’s a fantastic, multi-talented leader! Ben provides oversight and leadership for a wide variety of areas at his church.

The creative process can feel like capturing lightning in a bottle. Below are some ideas that will help you release the creative talent on your team and leverage your brainstorming meetings to the max.

  • Communicate the Scope Beforehand // A lot of creatives are quick on their feet and love to spitball ideas. But not every creative person is wired this way. Not everyone develops their best ideas in the midst of a brainstorming meeting. Some people thrive with time and thought. Communicate the scope of the discussion beforehand to aid folks who like to mull over ideas.
  • Think Aspirationally Before Practically // Start the meeting by asking your team what they want to do — not what they can do. This helps them aim for the moon before your budget pulls them back to earth. When you do come up with that cosmic idea, it will have so much energy and enthusiasm around it that your team will find a way to pull it off.
  • Remove the Pressure // Pressure is the greatest roadblock to releasing creativity. Identify and remove every avenue of pressure.
  • Acknowledge the 9:1 Ratio // If 10 ideas are suggested, 9 will suck and 1 will be good. Acknowledging this ratio upfront empowers people to voice their many bad ideas to help them find their limited good ideas. I’ll often start this process with a couple of terrible ideas to model a safe environment for all ideas.
  • Write Down Ideas // This simple suggestion has a few benefits. It ensures no idea is missed during the meeting. It allows visual learners to keep track of what’s been said. It enables you to cluster concepts and start developing themes. It honors participation and shows people that you value their ideas when they see you write them down.
  • Get a Transcriber // Ideas in a brainstorming meeting are similar to popcorn in the microwave. At first, they pop up slowly, but as the creative temperature rises, the ideas start to explode at a quicker pace. A transcriber can record this frenzy of ideas. This releases you from taking notes and allows you to keep the creative conversation at a heated level.
  • Generate Ideas Through Rewards // Capitalize on the desire to be rewarded in your brainstorming meetings. When you reward an idea, it generates new ones. Reward every idea by vocalizing praise and tossing out fun-sized candy bars. Reward great ideas with a high five. It may feel juvenile running around a conference table high-fiving folks, but people crave this validation. At every meeting, I reward the most outlandish idea with a $5 gift card to Starbucks.
  • Meet Earlier Than Needed // You don’t want folks thinking about what’s after the meeting during the meeting. If your team is thinking about executing ideas, they won’t be suggesting ideas. Schedule your brainstorming with extra time to deliver the concepts that get generated. If you think meeting in October is fine, then meet in September.  
  • Crockpot Not Microwave // The creative process is similar to serving up a delicious dish. Slow cooking your ideas brings out the fullest flavors. Yes, you could microwave your concepts, but that just gets them warm and rubbery. Instead, crockpot them by giving your meeting enough time to circle back and unpack concepts.

Don’t turn off the idea tap once the meeting ends. You may feel as if you’ve squeezed the lemon dry by the end of your meeting. You haven’t. The potential for ideas is limitless, so encourage folks to send in post-meeting concepts.

ben_stapleyAbout Ben // Over the past 15 years, I have created and captured memorable moments and media for individuals, non-profits and corporations around the globe. Some of the fields that I have worked in include teaching, videography, photography, stage design, radio, reporting and producing. I received a B.A. in Video Communication from MBI in Chicago. After graduating, I worked in Toronto as a television reporter and producer for Context, a national news program. In 2011, I received my M.Div. from Biblical Theological Seminary. Currently I work for The Life Christian Church as the Executive Pastor. I live in New Jersey with my wonderful wife, Rose, and our lovely daughters, Violet and Scarlet.


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  1. Thanks for this article Rich… Ben, I appreciate your insights, and I will be applying these things to a meeting that I’m having in 2 hours from now… So I appreciate the timeliness of this article. I needed to be reminded to think aspirationally, not practically… Especially in this season of church planting. It can so easily start off aspirationally, and then shrink back to practical thinking. Thanks guys!

    1. Peter – I had a friend in ministry that used to say “tell me the budget at the end”. He always wanted to dream first before awaken to reality. Reminds me of the Solo line “never tell me the odds”

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Rich Birch
Rich Birch is one of the early multi-site church pioneers in North America. He led the charge in helping The Meeting House in Toronto to become the leading multi-site church in Canada with over 5,000+ people in 18 locations. In addition, he served on the leadership team of Connexus Church in Ontario, a North Point Community Church Strategic Partner. He has also been a part of the lead team at Liquid Church - a 5 location multisite church serving the Manhattan facing suburbs of New Jersey. Liquid is known for it’s innovative approach to outreach and community impact. Rich is passionate about helping churches reach more people, more quickly through excellent execution.His latest book Church Growth Flywheel: 5 Practical Systems to Drive Growth at Your Church is an Amazon bestseller and is design to help your church reach more people in your community.