Event Management

15 Ways Event Planners Can Brainstorm New Ideas

Skift Take

Constantly coming up with new ideas is key to being innovative and standing out in the event industry. Here are 15 ways to get the creative juices gushing!

Part of planning events can be looking at things from a different perspective and either coming up with ideas or changing the narrative of something traditional into something attendees haven’t seen before. This can be tricky and we’ve all inevitably suffered from a creative block at one time or another. Here are a few ways to help you brainstorm new ideas, get everything you want down on paper and create the best events to make you an unstoppable eventprof.

  1. Free Writing/Doodling

Free writing allows yourself to sit down for a set period of time and write without actually thinking about a set train of thought. For example, you write down literally whatever pops into your head, whether that is words, sounds or feelings and this can help to both free your mind from the clutter of thoughts that may be overshadowing your creativity but can also spark inspiration for your ideas later on, so don’t throw this paper away!

Doodling works in the same way as it is seemingly mindless but can be your subconscious trying to break through which means you might find yourself leaving visual cues to yourself that inspire new ideas.

  1. Mind Maps

Mind maps can be a useful tool for event planners when brainstorming because they can highlight linked processes and help with problem solving and joined up thinking. They can be particularly useful for those who are visual and it helps to share triggers to spark other ideas.

You can also use mind maps to follow a thought process and make it easier to understand the areas that need to be worked on while highlighting how different ideas are related.

  1. Vision Boards

Dealing entirely in images can be particularly beneficial when coming up with event ideas. Get inspired by placing images together. Vision boards can sit in the background while you work on other issues and will catch your eye across the room for momentary idea bursts without having to waste time re-reading what you have previously done and covering old ground.

  1. Speed Writing

Set yourself a time limit and see what you can come up with because for some people they need the pressure and deadline to come up with their best work! For brainstorming in particular, 60 second bursts can be beneficial by setting a focus to your writing, for example; catering ideas for the event. In 60 seconds scribble down everything you have come up with within that time frame. While you will get a lot of obvious answers, you will be surprised where your mind goes and what you manage to come up with when you put yourself momentarily under pressure.

  1. Role Playing

It may sound silly, but act out what you are trying to achieve and put yourself in the position with others. We often find inspiration through interacting with others that prompts a new thought process so it makes sense that being specific and putting yourself directly into that situation would yield some results. Plus, if all else fails you can use the other person or people as a sounding board for the ideas you do come up with.  

  1. Collaborative Boards

Sometimes bounding ideas off each other and building on what someone else says can be all you need to brainstorm your ideas because after all, several heads are better than one. Other people see things from different perspectives so getting someone else’s eye can spark a new thought process you hadn’t even considered. Digital collaborative boards which allow you to share text, images, comments and mixed media formats can be beneficial for larger teams and to avoid wasting time in meetings as everyone can add things in their own time around their workload.  

  1. Follow The Steps

Usually you know the outcome that you want to achieve and where you are now but it is the path that is less clear. Coming up with new ideas can be very much the same so you should try to follow the steps you would naturally take in order to come up with ideas in the right process order. For example, if you have an event theme but need catering ideas look at it in order of courses, food type, event budget and supplier before trying to come up with fancy display or food station ideas.

  1. Voice To Text Software

Some people get physical writer’s block meaning they can discuss their ideas easily but when it comes to getting them on paper they struggle or forget what they are trying to say. The free flow of speech can make thinking easier and therefore a dictation app that allows you to speak your ideas and convert them to note form that you can then share are ideal and also means you can brainstorm on the go!

  1. Make A Change

Whether it is your environment, physical position or perspective, change can foster new ideas and get you out of a rut quickly. Going to the same room, desk or office can hinder creativity and leave you with stale ideas so instead go outside or for a walk while you are trying to brainstorm.

Working at different times or in different positions can also help find your most productive side and help you come up with new ideas. Standing up or walking around can help you do two things at once and take some of the stress away from staring at the blank screen or piece of paper, while mixing up your timings could mean you are less tired and brimming with more ideas. Ultimately you can’t expect to constantly keep coming up with new ideas if you are doing the same old routine day in and out.

  1. Meditation

You may find coming up with new ideas difficult because you have a lot of mental chatter that keeps coming to the forefront when trying to brainstorm. This can be the case with many event professionals as they are often have many jobs to do in a day and in a high powered environment you are used to multi-tasking and doing a lot of things at once. This doesn’t necessarily promote brainstorming and can not only hinder new ideas but also makes you struggle to keep focus.

Regular meditation can help you to not only calm your mind but can also be a tool for organising thoughts and becoming more creative. The mind is a muscle and meditation is a particularly useful way of exercising it so that it is conducive to calm and focus which are necessary for coming up with original, thought provoking ideas.

  1. SWOT Analysis

This technique that stands for; strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats is often used in business practice and strategies to understand your current situation. This can also be effective when brainstorming as it can show you what ideas need to be focused on, for example knowing the threats and opportunities of the current market can help an event planner create an event accordingly which allows you to frame new ideas and know exactly what you are looking for.

  1. Round Robins

In a group, create a game whereby everyone is only allowed to come up or contribute one element before passing on the idea to the next person. By the time it comes back to being your turn the idea or inspirations have changed and you are looking at it entirely differently, which can promote new thinking.

Round robins also not only add a restriction that reduces the amount of bad ideas but also prompts people to put their best ideas forward and can also be a way to build on other’s perspectives in the same way collaborative boards do.

  1. Idea Categories

It can be helpful to form themes or connections between thoughts and ideas because it becomes easier to build on them as you go, which tends to lead to a flow. If you are struggling with linking ideas together or trying to come up with something new, create categories for your projects and then get specific about them to bring more depth and tie things together more closely. For example, when brainstorming event catering, you would start with the category “catering” and when you have run out of ideas for that, narrow it down to “finger food ideas” or “food stations” and then you can continue with niche brainstorming without getting lost in all the possibilities and adding context to your ideas.

  1. Word Association

Quick fire improv games such as word association can train your brain long-term to brainstorm and come up with new ideas quickly. For many eventprofs, it isn’t the creativity that is the issue, it is the time restrictions and deadlines for coming up with new and original ideas. Word association is best played with others and can help your event team when joint brainstorming as you don’t know what others are going to say and that surprise-triggers your own response. However, if this isn’t possible, you could create standardized cue cards that help to spark your creativity, face them down and mix them up and draw from them in the same way.

Alternatively, you can play word association variations such as coming up with as many words as you can associated to a category and this helps get all of your ideas (good and bad) out and then you select the ones that are most suitable and build on them. Training your brain using improvisation games helps speed up its processes and makes you more reactive in the future too, so it helps now and later.

  1. Multitasking

Have you ever thought really hard about an idea, come up with nothing and then out of nowhere when you are doing something else, inspiration strikes? While you shouldn’t always multitask, moving onto something else while still thinking about your brainstorming can be an interesting way of being productive and coming up with new ideas. Specifically, choosing monotonous or repetitive tasks alongside brainstorming can help create a meditative effect for some and the act of doing something physically can trigger creativity responses and allow you to brainstorm better subconsciously so that when you come back to it, your ideas just flow.

One thing to remember with multitasking is to not try to overload the brain with too many difficult tasks at once because this can have the opposite effect and actually reduce overall productivity so select tasks that are on the opposite ends of the spectrum of difficulty.  

Brainstorming Tips

Remove Censorship – Don’t discount any of your ideas at first by limiting and deciding that they are bad. You may find that you have had an idea that you can build on later so just focus on getting ideas out and then judge them later.

Ask Questions – Free thinking doesn’t always come naturally and if it’s a broad subject you can struggle with where to start or to move on from. Asking questions can help frame your thinking and lead you to explore specific avenues with a little more guidance.

Take Breaks – Even the best of us can’t keep churning new and original ideas out day and night so remember it is okay to take a break and come back to it later. Sometimes it can be more helpful to take a step back and give your brain a rest from focusing on one area that it can be the breakthrough that you need.

Carry A Notebook – You never know where inspiration may strike so carry a notebook with you or a notetaking app on your phone so that you don’t lose any ideas and you can refer to them later on. Evernote for example allows you to sign in from anywhere and access your notes, whether it is on your phone or a desktop, so something like this could be a good idea as your phone is probably always by your side.

Avoid NegativityNegativity can be a creativity killer and if you are constantly getting yourself down then you won’t consider all the possibilities and ideas that could be your next big thing! Not every idea is going to be a winner but put it to one side, move on and try not to be hard on yourself, positivity tends to help you be more productive in the end.

In Conclusion

Brainstorming can be hard but to remain current and competitive in the fast-paced event industry it is necessary to keep coming up with new and innovative ideas. We have given you some tips and tactics for brainstorming that should hopefully prevent a block and keep your creativity juices flowing!

Further Reading