Brainstorming is applied to a group of people who are looking for solutions to a specific problem. Most people seem to think that brainstorming sessions can really help increase your creativity. You may be surprised to know that this is not always true.
While being part of a group can help you come up with new ideas, there is also a ton of pressure associated with it. If you don't contribute enough your self confidence levels drop. Everyone is eager to be the person that comes up with the perfect solution. So there is a lot of stress and expectations attached to brainstorming.
So is there a better solution? Brainstorming can still be super effective, it is often the way you approach the meeting that needs to be changed.
One alternative to this is to actually spend some time alone before going to the brainstorming session. Allow yourself plenty of time to sit and think up your own ideas and solutions. You can then weed through them and present your best ones to the group. This is an excellent option if your self confidence is a little low.
As you come up with ideas also come up with a way of carrying it out. Your goal is to present the problem and present a solution at the same time. Right there this puts you in a favorable position and shows that you have put time and effort into your ideas.
If you act as a moderator of a brainstorming session, you need to put thought into your replies. While you want everyone to come up with suggestions, you don't want to hurt anyone's feelings if an idea is just not suitable.
Whenever possible you want to thank the person for their idea and then offer a workaround. This can be as simple as countering with a more plausible idea. Or, if their suggestion is good, take only a portion of it and then look for other ideas to make it work flawlessly.
The next time you are asked to be part of a brainstorming session put more thought and effort into preparing for it. Give yourself time to let your creative juices work and come up with several ideas plus solutions ahead of time. Then really go through each one and present the best one as your main contribution to the group. This can be a much better method than attempting to come up with fantastic solutions on the spot.