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How to Brainstorm Brilliantly

This lesson is a part of an audio course Sizzling Sound Bites by Marcia Yudkin

When you're trying to generate sound bites, slogans, or titles, it's essential to list loads and loads of possibilities. You also need to approach the task with wide-angle thinking rather than a narrow-point purpose. A phrase or image that feels very farfetched early on may later be tweakable so that it combines beautifully with another element on your list.

Be patient with the process! Allow yourself enough time for your unconscious mind to kick more ideas up to you when you are doing something else, like listening to music or taking a shower.

Familiarize yourself with these time-tested guidelines for productive brainstorming:

  1. Go for quantity. Your best material rarely comes first, second, or even tenth. It's more likely to come twenty-second or seventy-eighth. Fill up your notebook! And if you do, grab some extra paper!

  2. Don't censor or judge. Write everything down. If something pops into your head, write it down. If it's stupid, silly, irrelevant, crude, clich├ęd, or worthless, write it down anyway.

  3. Keep all the ideas. Save this notebook, even if you finish the process and choose a great tagline or title. Suppose you later learn it's legally protected, or it doesn't fit on the cover? Or suppose you need a second, related sound bite? This way, you won't have to start from the beginning again.

  4. Put yourself in a playful mood. Remember when you were a kid and just had fun without trying to get fast results? That's the spirit in which you should brainstorm. Have fresh popcorn available. Laugh.

  5. Use prompts. This course contains questions that will trigger plenty of ideas, but you can also look through catalogs, magazines, the Yellow Pages, or the Internet for inspiration. Even random input can remind you of a different train of thinking.

  6. Piggyback on what you previously thought up. Any time you run out of steam, take a one-minute break to stretch, then in a relaxed frame of mind, look at the ideas you've already brainstormed. Allow them to suggest additional options.

  7. When you get stuck, stop. Don't try to grind out additional ideas when you feel frustrated, block, or used up. Close your notebook and restart the brainstorming another day.

  8. Optional. Get help from a small group. Brainstorming works well with two or three other people as well as alone. Designate one person to record all the ideas, either in the notebook or on the wallboard.

I ran a naming company for more than 10 years, using expert names who brainstormed independently of one another and then sent me what they felt were their 10 best ideas. Again and again, I noticed that different people had different approaches to generating ideas. Rarely did the same idea appear on more than one person's top 10 list. I also noticed that when I brainstormed on my own over the course of several days, ideas would often come to me on days 2 and 3 that used completely different angles from what came to me on day 1. Keep that in mind when you are brainstorming for sound bites. If you can't corral multiple people to brainstorm for you, set up multiple sessions for yourself.

In the next lesson, I'll give you 16 prompts for generating sound bite options.

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Marcia Yudkin