7 engaging team exercises for content idea generation

February 2022 7 min read Written by Papirfly

In this article, you’ll learn…

  • Several fun and effective techniques to overcome creative blocks
  • How each team exercise can be applied to content generation
  • What differences you can realistically make to your brainstorming sessions

We’ve all been there before. Stood in front of a blank whiteboard or sheet of paper. Awkward pauses that seem to last an eternity. Meeting rooms populated with blank or strained expressions.

Creating fresh content ideas can be a frustrating experience for all involved. Even highly experienced creatives can’t turn this on and off like a tap – sometimes inspiration just doesn’t arrive naturally, resulting in periods of stony silence during brainstorming sessions.

When this happens, simply sitting around and praying for an idea to pop in someone’s head won’t cut it. Instead, teams should look to resuscitate these sessions with engaging, collaborative exercises that have been proven to combat fatigue and spur creativity.

Here, we’ll share seven of our favourite team exercises to trial for yourself, and how they all can be applied to content idea generation.

1. Empathy mapping

An empathy map is a collaborative tool that teams can use to develop a deeper understanding of their audience – their wants, their pain points, their preferences, etc. This dives into the thoughts and feelings of customers in order to determine what they would like to see, and what would hold no relevance to them whatsoever.

On your empathy map, you might include several sections to answer important questions about who your audience is, such as:

  • What do they think and feel about your product/service/brand?
  • What are their aspirations? What are their concerns?
  • What do they hear and see about your organisation on a daily basis?
  • How do they talk about your brand? Does this change whether they’re in public or in private?
  • What environments would/do they typically use your product/service in?
  • What barriers do they have to using your products/services?
  • How much have customers enjoyed using your products/services in the past?

How to apply this to content generation

Empathy mapping can be applied to all areas of marketing, especially content generation. By placing this map at the centre of your discussions, either by sticking it to a wall or on your whiteboard, you can use your audience’s needs, wants and issues to steer what content you create to address these head-on.

So, rather than use guesswork or pluck ideas from thin air, you work directly from what you know about your audience to guide the content you produce.


2. Role-storming

A similar technique is role-storming. This takes empathy mapping to a more theatrical level, where you have those involved in the brainstorming session take on the role of your audience personas.

This is designed to remove any personal inhibitions or judgements, and decisively step into your customer’s shoes. Rather than bring any preconceived notions about what content is based on from your perspective, you are forced to consider what your audience wants and needs, and respond accordingly.

How to apply this to content generation

This technique can be combined with empathy mapping to help influence your content ideas. Perhaps you could interview members of your sales or customer service teams – the people who interact with your audience everyday – to adopt these roles as they can best embody your audience’s desires and pain points.

Then, either act out a scene or conduct an interview with this “audience persona” to figure out what content would capture their imagination.

3. Starbursting

Instead of immediately focusing on answers and solutions, starbursting encourages creatives to prioritise the questions in brainstorming sessions. By devoting time to generating relevant, useful questions relating to the topic at hand, your team is in a position to answer these with greater clarity.

You should build your starburst map on the 5Ws and 1H:

  • What
  • When
  • Where
  • Why
  • Who
  • How

How to apply this to content generation

Say you are marketing for a real estate company and want to create content around property viewings. On each point of your starburst map, you may have questions like:

  • What will potential buyers expect to see during a property viewing?
  • When is the best day of the week to arrange a property viewing?
  • Where do potential buyers look first during property viewings?
  • Why are property viewings important?
  • Who can help someone prepare for a property viewing?
  • How can you ensure viewers have the best experience possible?

The questions built up during this session can inspire a wave of articles, videos, infographics, social posts and other assets designed to answer each one proposed.


4. Brainwriting

Also known as slip writing, brainwriting encourages a natural flow of consciousness involving every participant in a brainstorming session. First, without any prior communication, each person anonymously writes down their ideas and thoughts on a piece of paper, index card or post-it notes. These are then collected and positioned in clear view of everyone. 

The ideas themselves can be completely unconventional or bizarre, but the aim is to use these as jumping-off points for constructive conversation. Rather than wait for people to speak up, their anonymity gives them greater freedom to write whatever’s on their minds without fear of judgement, and ideas can then be discussed and adapted where necessary.

How to apply this to content generation

Brainwriting can be very powerful for content generation, as it encourages people to share ideas without risk of ridicule. It can also highlight the concepts of people who may not be as confident speaking in a group setting, so everyone is able to contribute.

During a session, you might pass ideas around from person to person for a few rounds to refine and add to the initial concepts. This can mean they are in a more complete state when the group reconvenes to discuss the ideas, so the chosen ones are in a better position to be taken forward.


5. S.C.A.M.P.E.R.

The S.C.A.M.P.E.R. technique inspires people to look at a problem or topic from a variety of different angles, allowing them to consider those areas in a very specific, focused way. The acronym is broken down into:

  • Substitute
  • Combine
  • Adapt
  • Modify
  • Put to another use
  • Eliminate
  • Reverse

By looking at ideas through these distinct lenses, it can offer fresh perspectives on how to approach a topic.

How to apply this to content generation

During a content idea brainstorm, S.C.A.M.P.E.R. can encourage attendees to imagine different ways to look at a topic, as well as build on an initial concept with one of these seven distinct approaches.

You might substitute the audience your topic is aimed towards, or combine one topic with another one brought forward to create a different concept altogether. Even if some of the ideas developed through this technique are non-starters, it is valuable in guiding people down different paths regarding a topic.

6. Six thinking hats

The Six Thinking Hats philosophy was developed by Edward De Bono in 1985, and is built around six unique thinking styles:


To apply this to a brainstorming session, you could either have different participants within a meeting metaphorically wear these different hats, or have everyone wear one hat at a time to cover each area step by step.

How to apply this to content generation

During a content generation session, you might apply the Six Thinking Hats technique in the following way:

  • The chair of the meeting wears the blue hat, coordinating all other participants and reinforcing the goals and outcomes of the meeting
  • White hats bring forward any data or information they have available about the topic being discussed
  • Green hats encourage new and innovative ideas, and are there to think outside the box
  • Yellow hats bring forward the benefits and advantages of ideas generated during the session
  • Red hats focus on the emotions and gut feelings felt by their audience towards the topic
  • Black hats looks at the logical risks and concerns surrounding ideas brought to the table

By giving everyone a specific role in this process, it can make creative meetings more streamlined and enables people to play to their strengths, rather than conduct the brainstorming as a free-for-all.

7. Stepladder

The final technique we will highlight is the stepladder. As it sounds, it takes a step-by-step approach to idea generation, and is particularly powerful in an environment where a few individuals are drowning out others during sessions.

Once the meeting begins, everyone vacates the room outside of two people, who discuss their ideas together. After a couple of minutes, another person enters, who then shares their ideas uninterrupted. Then, all three discuss their ideas together.

One by one more people enter the room until every participant is back together. This ensures that everyone has a chance to share their concepts without interruption, and helps highlight common themes and thoughts that can be pursued following this session.

How to apply this to content generation

During a content brainstorming session, the stepladder technique can help bring the most popular ideas for a topic to the forefront, while also uncovering more out-of-the-box approaches that may prove just as valuable. 

Rather than a couple of powerful voices reaching a consensus, all ideas are given an audience. All perspectives are given a fair shake, which could unlock unique, compelling approaches for upcoming campaigns.

Showcase your ideas with BAM

If you have often found brainstorming sessions grinding to a halt due to a lack of ideas, organisation or enthusiasm, we hope this inspires you to trial new techniques that will get your team’s creativity flowing.

Find the methods that engage your participants the most and encourage the most abundant range of ideas, and your sessions will soon become a hotbed of unique, vibrant concepts.

But, once you have exciting ideas for your content, it’s time to share them with the world. BAM by Papirfly™ gives you the power to produce professional print, digital and video assets, online, in an instant, and control your content like never before.

  • Easy-to-use design software enables you to create an infinite amount of marketing assets in-house
  • Intelligent templates ensure BAM can be used by anyone to produce high-quality, perfectly branded assets – no design expertise necessary
  • Create brochures, videos, emails, social media assets and more completely independently
  • Adapt campaign materials, text and imagery for use in your markets across the globe

Take the speed, quality and cost-effectiveness of your content marketing to the next level. Discover the full capabilities of BAM by arranging your free demo, or get in touch with our team if you’d like to learn more.

by Papirfly

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