Icon of cluster brainstorming for how-to guide

Cluster brainstorming

What is it?

Cluster brainstorming, also known as cluster mapping or mind mapping, is a creative technique used to generate, organize, and visualize ideas, concepts, or information. It's a non-linear brainstorming method that encourages free thinking and exploration of various ideas related to a central topic or problem.

In the early stages of planning a presentation, cluster brainstorming can help generate key messages, themes, and topics. It starts by creating a central node representing the main message or goal of the presentation and then branching out to explore related concepts, supporting points, and examples.

As ideas accumulate, cluster mapping becomes an effective way to organize and structure your presentation's content. You can group related ideas into clusters, providing a clear visualization of the logical flow of your presentation. This visual representation acts as a roadmap for structuring slides and crafting a cohesive storyline.

Cluster brainstorming can also inspire the creation of engaging visuals and graphics for your presentation. Adding mind map-style graphics to your slides can make complex ideas more understandable and memorable. If you're working with a team on presentation development, cluster brainstorming supports collaborative idea generation, with team members adding their insights to the map in real-time.

When to use it

  1. To break down complex ideas into smaller, more manageable components and visualize the relationships between them.
  2. You want to see your ideas in a more visual way, making it easier to understand and organize them.

Remember to

  1. Begin the session with a clear question, problem statement, idea, or concept. This focus will guide your brainstorming and keep clusters relevant to  objectives.
  2. Think freely and without judgment during the initial idea generation phase. Quantity matters more than quality at this stage.



Define the problem or topic

Clearly state the problem you want to brainstorm about or specify the topic you want to explore. Be as specific as possible.


Gather materials

You'll need a large surface to write down ideas where everyone can see them. A whiteboard, flip chart paper, or a large piece of paper on the wall will work well.

Use sticky notes or index cards to write down individual ideas. Having different colored markers available to color code each cluster will be helpful.


Create a central idea or node

Write the central idea or topic in the center of the paper or whiteboard. This will serve as the starting point for your cluster.


Generate initial ideas

Using sticky notes or index cards, spend a few minutes brainstorming and writing down any ideas or thoughts related to the central idea. These can be keywords, phrases, or simple drawings. Don't worry about organizing them yet; the goal is to get as many ideas as possible.


Identify key themes or categories

Look at the initial ideas you've generated and identify common themes, categories, or connections between them. These themes will become the clusters. Reorganize your sticky notes or cards into their clusters, label each cluster with a keyword or phrase that summarizes the theme.


Expand each cluster

Take one cluster at a time and brainstorm further within that cluster. Write down more specific ideas, details, or potential solutions related to that cluster's theme. Use arrows or lines to connect related ideas within the cluster.


Cross-pollinate ideas

As you work through the clusters, look for connections or overlaps between them. Sometimes, ideas from one cluster can spark new ideas in another.


Review and refine

Take a step back and review all the ideas and clusters you've generated. Identify any standout ideas or solutions that are particularly promising or innovative.


Prioritize and select

Evaluate the ideas you've generated and prioritize them based on relevance, feasibility, and potential impact. Choose the ideas that you want to explore further or implement.

Guide coming soon