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14 Best Tools for Brainstorming at School and Work (in 2022)

14 Best Tools for Brainstorming at School and Work (in 2022)

Work

Leah Nguyen 22 Sep 2022 9 min read

We’ve all dreamed of a flawless brainstorming session: A dream team where everyone’s involved in the process. Perfect and organised ideas which run toward the ultimate solution.

But in reality…

Without a proper tool to keep track of all the flying ideas, a brainstorming session can get messy real quick. Some keep throwing their opinions, others stay deathly silent

And the crisis doesn’t stop there.

We’ve seen too many remote meetings going nowhere despite having a lot of opinions. When post-it notes, pen and paper aren’t cutting it, it’s time to bring out online brainstorming tools as a huge help for your virtual brainstorming sessions.

Say goodbye to disordered, unproductive brainstorming hours, because these 14 best tools for brainstorming will maximise your team’s productivity and creativity whenever you’re brainstorming, whether virtually, offline or both.

6 Reasons to Try a Brainstorming Tool

It may feel like a big leap, to switch from traditional brainstorming methods to the modern way. But, trust us; it’s easier when you can see the benefits…

  • They keep things organised. Sorting out whatever it is people throw at you during every brainstorming session is not an easy task. An effective, accessible tool will untangle that mess and leave you with a neat and trackable idea board.
  • They are omnipresent. It doesn’t matter if your team operates in-person, virtually or a mix of both. These online tools will not let a single person miss your productive brain workout.
  • They let everyone’s ideas be heard. No more waiting for your turn to speak; your teammates can collaborate and even vote for the best ideas under the same application.
  • They allow anonymity. Sharing ideas publicly is a nightmare for some of your team. With online brainstorming tools, everyone can submit their opinions incognito, without the fear of judgement and restrictions on creativity.
  • They offer endless visual possibilities. With images, sticky notes, videos, and even documents to add, you can make the whole process much more aesthetically pleasing and vividly clear.
  • They let you record ideas on the go. What will happen if a brilliant idea goes through your head while you’re jogging in the park? You know you can’t take your pen and notes with you every time, so having a brainstorming tool on your phone is a great way to keep up with every thought and idea you might have.

14 Best Tools for Brainstorming 

Brainstorming tools exist to help you to streamline your thoughts, whether in a team or individually. Here are the 14 best bits of brainstorming software to reap all the benefits of a proper brainstorming session.

#1 – AhaSlides

Screenshot of AhaSlides' brainstorming slide - 14 Best tools for brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Full access to features in the free version, voting and accessibility on both PC and mobile phone.

In addition to live polls, word clouds and quizzes, AhaSlides is interactive presentation software that lets you build collaborative brainstorm slides dedicated to group brainstorming.

You can state the issue/question that needs discussion at the top of the slide and invite everyone to submit their ideas through their phones. Once everyone’s typed whatever is on their minds, either anonymously or not, a round of voting will start and the best answer will make itself known.

Unlike other freemium software, AhaSlides enables you to use as many features as you want. It will never ask you for money to maintain the account, which is what many other tools do.

Gather all the brains, fast 🏃‍♀️

Get great ideas whirling with AhaSlides’ free brainstorming tool.

a brainstorming session using AhaSlides' Brainstorm slide to ideate

#2 – IdeaBoardz

A screenshot of the brainstorming session using IdeaBoardz
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Free, ready-to-use templates and voting

Why bother sticking notes on the meeting board (and spending time sorting out all the ideas later) when you can have a much more effective time generating ideas with IdeaBoardz

This web-based tool allows people to set up a virtual board and use sticky notes to add their ideas. Some brainstorming formats, such as Pros and Cons and Retrospective are there to help you get things started.

After all the ideas have been noted, everyone can use the vote function to decide what to prioritise next.

#3 – Conceptboard

A screenshot of Conceptboard's interface. It has various templates for brainstorming purpose
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, virtual whiteboards, various templates and moderation mode.

Conceptboard will satisfy your needs for both functionality and aesthetics, as it lets your ideas take shape with the help of sticky notes, videos, images and diagrams. Even if your team can’t be in the same room at the same time, this tool allows you to collaborate seamlessly and in a structured manner with the moderation feature.

In case you want to give feedback instantly to a member, the video chat function is a great help, but unfortunately it’s not included in the free plan.

#4 – Evernote

A screenshot of Evernote's brainstorming template
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, character recognition and virtual notebook.

A great idea can come out of anywhere, without the need for a group session. So if each member of your team jots down their ideas or sketches a concept into their notebooks, how will you gather them effectively?

This is something that Evernote, a note-taking app that’s available on both PC and mobile phone, tackles really well. You don’t have to worry if your notes are all over the place; the tool’s character recognition will help you transfer the text anywhere to the platform online, from your handwriting to business cards.

#5 – Lucidspark

A screenshot of LucidSpark's whiteboard interface used for brainstorming session with various people
Best Tools for Brainstorming – Image credit: Zoom App Marketplace

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, virtual whiteboard, breakout boards and voting.

Starting from a blank canvas like a whiteboard, Lucidspark lets you choose however you want to brainstorm. This could be using sticky notes or shapes, or even freehand annotations to spark ideas. For even more collaborative brainstorming sessions, you can split the team into smaller groups and set a timer using the ‘breakout boards’ function.

Lucidspark also has a voting feature to make sure every voice is heard. However, it’s only available in the team and enterprise plans.

#6 – Miro

Screenshot of Miro's mindmap
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, virtual whiteboard and various solutions for large businesses.

With a library of ready-to-use templates, Miro can help you facilitate a brainstorming session much faster. Its collaborative function helps to get everybody to see the big picture and develop their ideas creatively anywhere at anytime. However, some features required a licensed user to sign in, which may cause some confusion for your guest editors.

#7 – MindMup

Screenshot of Mindmup's mindmap
Best Tools for Brainstorming – Image credit: Mindmup

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, diagrams and integration with Google Drive.

MindMup offers basic mind mapping functions that are completely free. You can create unlimited maps and share them online to collaborate with your team. There are even keyboard shortcuts that help you capture ideas in a matter of seconds.

It’s integrated with Google Drive, so you can create and edit it in your Drive folder without having to go elsewhere.

Overall, this is a feasible option if you want a straightforward, simplistic style brainstorming tool.

#8 – Mindly

A screenshot of Mindly's app interface used for brainstorming projects
Best Tools for Brainstorming – Image credit: KEEPCatalog

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, fluid animation and offline access.

In Mindly, you can organise your universe of thoughts, which can be crazy, chaotic, and non-linear, in a hierarchical structure. Just like the planets revolving around the sun, each concept revolves around the central idea that can branch out into more subcategories.

If you’re looking for an app that does not require lots of adjusting and reading guides, then Mindly’s minimalistic style is the one for you.

#9 – MindMeister

Best Tools for Brainstorming – Image credit: MindMeister

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, huge customisation options and cross-app integration.

Online meetings are much more effective with this all-in-one mind mapping tool. From brainstorming sessions to note-taking, MindMeister provides all the necessary components to foster creativity and innovation among the team.

However, be aware that MindMeister will limit how many maps you can make in the free version and charge monthly to maintain all the projects. If you are not a frequent mind-map user, maybe it’s best to keep an eye out for other options.

#10 – Coggle

Screenshot of Coggle's mind map
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, flowcharts and no set-up collaboration.

Coggle is an effective tool when it comes to brainstorming by mindmaps and flowcharts. The controlled line paths gain you more freedom to customise and prevent things from overlapping and you can allow any number of people to edit, set up, and comment on the diagram with no login required.

All the ideas are visualised in a hierarchy like a branching tree.

#11 – Bubbl.us

Screenshot of Bubbl.us mind mapping tool to brainstorm site map
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Freemium and has accessibility on both PC and mobile phone.

Bubbl.us is a brainstorm web tool that lets you brainstorm new ideas in one easily understandable thought map, for free. The downsides are that the design is not sleek enough for creative minds and that Bubbl.us only allows users to create up to 3 mind maps in the free option.

#12 – LucidChart

Screenshort of Lucidchart's diagram
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Freemium, multiple diagrams and cross-app integration.

As the more complex brother of Lucidspark, LucidChart is the go-to brainstorming app if you want to integrate your brainstorm with your virtual workspaces such as G Suite and Jira.

The tool provides various interesting shapes, images, and charts that cater to different purposes, and you can get started with all of them from the enormous template library.

Once you’ve got a grip on using LucidChart, you can start creating out-of-the-box ideas like this one inspired by Van Gogh’s Starry Night. Still, bear in mind that the app will limit how complex you can make your map in the free version.

#13 – MindNode

Screenshot of Mindnode's brainstorming tool
Best Tools for Brainstorming – Image credit: Capterra

Key functions 🔑 Freemium and exclusivity for Apple devices.

For individual brainstorming, MindNode perfectly captures thought processes and helps to create a new mind map within just a few taps of the iPhone widget. It is optimised for iOS devices, so Apple users will find themselves at ease when using MindNote’s features to ideate, brainstorm, create flowcharts, or convert each thought to a task reminder.

A major setback is that MindNode is only available in the Apple ecosystem.

#14 – WiseMapping

Screenshot of WiseMapping's brainstorming tool
Best Tools for Brainstorming

Key functions 🔑 Free, open-source and with team-collaboration.

WiseMapping is another individual and collaborative free brainstorming tool for you to try. With a minimalistic drag-and-drop function, WiseMapping allows you to streamline your thoughts effortlessly and share them internally in your company or school. If you’re a beginner at learning how to brainstorm, then you can’t sleep on this tool!

The Awards 🏆

Of all the brainstorming tools we’ve introduced, which ones will win the hearts of users and earn their prize at the Best Tools for Brainstorming Awards? Check out the O.G list we’ve chosen based on each specific category: Easiest to use, Most budget-friendly, Most suitable for schools, and Most suitable for businesses.

Drum roll, please… 🥁

🏆 Easiest to use

Mindly: You basically don’t need to read any guide in advance to use Mindly. Its concept of making ideas floating around the main idea like the planet system is easy to understand. The software focuses on making each feature as simple as possible, so it’s very intuitive to use and explore.

🏆 Most budget-friendly

WiseMapping: Totally free and open-source, WiseMapping allows you to integrate the tool to your sites, or deploy it in enterprises and schools. For a complimentary tool, this satisfies all your basic needs to craft a comprehensible mind map.

🏆 Most suitable for schools

AhaSlides: AhaSlides’ brainstorm tool allows students to alleviate that social pressure by letting them submit their ideas anonymously. Its voting and reaction features make it perfect for school, as does everything else AhaSlides offers, like interactive games, quizzes, polls, word clouds and more.

🏆 Most suitable for businesses

Lucidspark: This tool has what every team needs; the ability to collaborate, share, timebox and sort out ideas with others. However, what wins us over is Lucidspark’s design interface, which is very stylish and helps teams spark creativity.

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