Oct 16, 2009

How to get creative ideas?

Recently I read a post 'How to be creative?' by Scott Schwertly. While I was reading it I started thinking about my own creative journey with presentations. Presentations I had made on campus (IIM Ahmedabad) during my MBA days. They were loved by most people because they were 'creative'. Something they had never seen before. Something which was fun.

But how did they become creative? How does one get creative ideas? You don't need to be an artist to get creative ideas. I am not an artist. I believe that everyone is creative. I discovered my creativity through presentations.You might discover it through something else. All that you need is to harness the latent creativity within you.

Today's post will tell you how to do that. I will share with you techniques which have helped me generate creative ideas. I am sure they will also help you do the same. Use these techniques for your presentations and see the results.


1. Creativity cannot be forced but it comes when you
really want it

My experience has taught me that you cannot force creativity. You cannot sit and force yourself to think of creative ideas. Ideas are free flowing. They can come without prior appointment. Yet every time I make a presentation I am able to get creative ideas. Creativity gets better with time and experience. Once you have a few successes behind you, you start trusting your instinct.

If you have an important presentation to make after two days and you need ideas for that then I suggest you keep the door of your mind open all the time. Get immersed in it. I don't mean to say that you forget everything and think only of the presentation. But everytime you are free think about your presentation. While driving to office, while walking back home. That great idea might strike any time.

2. Passion fuels creativity

Though creative ideas can come without appointment, yet everytime you need it you can generate ideas. All you need is passion for what you are doing. You cannot get creative in fields you don't care about. Take my example. I am passionate about presentations, marketing, branding and advertising. So I get creative ideas when it comes to these fields. If you do not like your subject and are doing it as part of a duty, you cannot generate creative ideas and solutions. First get passionate about what you are doing and creativity will come in due time.

3. Trust your idea and take the risk

Creativity is very subjective. What is creative to you is weird to someone else. Everybody in this world has a viewpoint. All the time we are praising or criticizing advertisements and other works of art (creative stuff). Advertisements are made by professionals who believe in their creative idea and take the risk. What is creative is what is liked by most people to whom it matters. If you feel your idea is creative then go ahead and take the risk. Trust your instinct. Don't worry if your colleague does not like the idea. Be ready for your idea to be disliked by some people. Be ready to fail. What appeals to everyone is not creative.

4. Do not sing to everyone

One sign of a great idea is that it does not appeal to everyone at the start. If you want everyone to like your idea then that idea cannot be creative. What is liked by all is never different and radical. Creativity, by definition, produces something different. So how can a 'different' idea be liked by everyone. As long as your idea is liked by those who matter you should be fine. Do not try to appease all.

5. Find a partner in crime

This is one technique that gets the best out of me. Ideas keep coming when I am talking about the subject to someone. There are just the two of us. If your partner (could be your colleague or wife) is working on the same idea then he/she can be an active contributor. You guys can use a whiteboard and start writing down your ideas and how it helps solve your problems.

If you are working solo on your problem, choose a good listener. Your passive partner need not contribute much but should lend you his/her ears and be patient. A few words here and there and some nods should keep you going. Talk about why you are working on the project, what is the problem, what could be the solution.

6. Don't be shy - Let your imagination go wild

Never throw away any idea without going deeper into it. Follow a two stage process. In stage 1, generate ideas without being judgmental. Keep writing down everything that comes to your mind. In stage 2, evaluate each idea and see if it fulfills your needs.

Remember not to generate new ideas when you have entered stage 2. Allocate time for stage 1 and stop working on it as soon as your time elapses. This ensures your work happens on time.

7. Maintain an idea book

Many ideas strike when you are doing something else. Keep a small notebook where you can write any idea which comes to you. Keep collecting these ideas and refer back to them when you are working on something related.


These techniques have helped me become more creative. To discover ideas inside me I thought never existed. If you feel you suck at creativity then start using some or all of the above techniques. You might be looking for creative solutions to a business problem, creative ways to present your data or creative ways to make a presentation. Once you use these techniques and start getting better at creativity, your confidence will build. After initial success and recognition you will start trusting your instincts. You will know what is creative and what is mundane.

Best wishes on your creative journey.

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