by Rashelle Colsinger

If you’ve ever participated in brainstorming sessions, you know that is as much of an art as it is a science. And brainstorm for poll question ideas, the sessions take on a whole new dimension.

Learning to brainstorm itself is easy to do. It may burden your cognitive abilities to the maximum, but usually the sessions are short, sweet, and targeted.

The two main necessities in brainstorming are concentration and intensity. Don’t reject any ideas initially. Instead you’ll need to record them all so they can be used later. Use a whiteboard or a chalkboard if necessary.

To emphasize the point, don’t reject idea (initially) because you think it’s an irrelevant idea. That will come later when you see what you’ve actually written down. Increase the positive flow of information as much as possible.

Sessions last from five minutes to a full day (Twitter was formed out of a day long brainstorming session). The sessions are intense and focused. But those five or ten minutes are extremely productive.

To get the most out of a brainstorming session, it helps to create an open environment, one that is free of clutter and chaos. Groups of three to seven brainstormers are ideal. Keeping the group small helps to keep the focus clearer.

Next we want to brainstorm ideas for possible poll questions. Three to seven people may be a luxury for your group. You may be it! That’s okay.

Keep the sessions short and focused. Five to ten minutes at a time will generate a lot of ideas. Choose a general category: religion, politics, sports, current news, that sort of thing. You may want to focus even more: for religion, choose one. For sports, choose a particular sport, for current news or politics, choose a current problem.

Now you’re ready to sit down to think and record. Here’s how a typical session could go: Sports leads to baseball, which leads to a team, which leads to the Yankees, which leads to Derek Jeter. From there you see if there’s anything in the news about the Yankees or Jeter. Then you tailor a question (especially if you are in the New York market) that talks about the Yankees or Mr. Jeter.

As you do this, it becomes easier. Don’t take shortcuts with this process. You may uncover several questions that you can use.

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