We all tap into our subconscious and creative minds differently – that’s where the most interesting and innovative ideas often come from!
The most effective brainstorming sessions incorporate methods that ignite all five senses: sight, smell, touch, hearing and taste. Research shows that sense of smell is most effective as a reminder of our past experiences, much more so than cues from our other four senses.
One reason might be the way our brains process odours and memories.
Using sense of smell as a brainstorming technique
Scents are routed through our olfactory bulb; the smell-analyzing region in our brain. It’s closely connected to our amygdala and hippocampus — two regions of the brain that handle memory and emotion.
The close connection explains why a scent can be tied to vivid memories when we’re exposed to a particular odour trigger. It’s also why you may have heard the expression “smells ring bells”.
Our scent-based memories tend to come from earlier in life when we were free to be creative as kids. These sensory igniters play an important role in brainstorming for that very reason — they quickly transport us back to a different time and place in our youth.
It may sound crazy, but every time I see an adult’s face light up when they smell shoestring licorice, marshmallows, or finger paint, it’s like watching them climb into a time machine and travel back to when they were 10 years old … a place that’s rich in creativity and new ideas!
How to incorporate scents in your brainstorming session
The next time you are hosting a brainstorming session, try to incorporate this quick list of fun smell triggers and see what creative ideas emerge:
- Scented markers
- Freshly-cut oranges
- Beach balls still in the plastic packaging
- Licorice in the packaging
- Finger paint
- Individually-packaged puddings
- Glue sticks
- Gelatin dessert
Still looking for new ways to unlock powerful ideas? Get in touch to see how we can help your team uncover big ideas.