Add an AI chatbot like Google Bard to your brainstorming process

Leverage prompts in your brainstorming process to benefit from the strengths of exploration engines such as Google Bard.

This illustration shows a three-step brainstorming concept: Think, prompt and share.
Image: Andy Wolber

There are many methods for conjuring up creative concepts, and exploration engines such as Google Bard and ChatGPT add another option to a brainstormer’s toolkit: prompts.

A series of well-phrased prompts to an AI chatbot can rapidly provide you with text generated by the large language models that drive such systems. These exploration engines let you add a prompt phase to your brainstorming process: think, prompt and then share.

SEE: My 4 Google Bard search prompting tips

How to use an AI chatbot in your brainstorming process

Before using an AI chatbot for the prompt step, be sure that your company permits employees to use this technology. As reported in The Wall Street Journal, Apple is one of the companies restricting employees’ use of AI chatbots.

If that hurdle is cleared, define the problem and think about it independently. You should document the problem and an initial set of ideas in whatever tool works well for you, whether it’s a new Google Doc, a blank board in Jamboard, cells in a Google Sheet, or perhaps a sheet of paper and a pencil.

After you’ve exhausted your initial exploration of ideas, try prompting. You might try a three-phase approach of an initial query with a couple of follow-on requests.

For example, suppose you’re brainstorming how to train employees, and you have access to Google Bard. You might try a series of prompts as shown in Figures A, B and C in sequence.

Figure A

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard.
Form your initial prompt. For example: “Can you suggest 20 effective ways to teach a group of 100 people about computer security concepts and practices?” Note that the system won’t necessarily reply with the number of concepts you request.

Figure B

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard.
Next, request additional ideas. For example: “Please suggest 15 more ideas” or “More ideas?” Note that the responses received include several different concepts.

Figure C

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard.
Encourage a bit more creativity in the responses with an additional prompt: “How about 15 unusual ways to teach security?” This returns yet another set of ideas for your consideration.

If you need more ideas, you might try additional rounds of prompting with different wording. Continuing the example above, other prompts could be:

  • “Create a syllabus for a 5-part computer security training course aimed at employees.”
  • “Write a 75-word workshop description for a computer security session for employees.”
  • “What are three of the most unusual things people should know about computer security.”

Review the responses, then edit and move the ideas into your brainstorming Google Docs document or sheet or Jamboard (Figure D), where you can group or arrange concepts for consideration or discussion.

Figure D

This screenshot shows a prompt in Google Bard and a snippet moved to a sticky note.
Move useful ideas into your brainstorming document. The example shows a section of text copied from Bard (right) and pasted into a sticky note in Jamboard (left).

Don’t be too quick to delete ideas unless items are repetitive, misguided or otherwise off-target. Keep the weird, whimsical and wacky ideas at this point. Depending on the number and nature of the ideas, you may want to reorganize the content to place related ideas close to one another.

At this point, you’re ready to share your ideas with your team. First, share your source document, board or sheet with the members of your team. Ideally, give people Commenter access, so they may select and add their thoughts. Make sure every member of your team has time to review and comment on all the content. Next, meet either in person or perhaps via Google Meet to discuss.

Injecting a chatbot into your brainstorming efforts can help you and your team generate more ideas, but you still need to take time to think and evaluate ideas before you act. Message or mention on Mastodon (@awolber) to let me know how AI chat systems change your productivity processes.

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