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9 best online brainstorming tools for collaborative teams
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9 best online brainstorming tools for collaborative teams

Discover the best online brainstorming tools for your needs and get ideas and projects flowing.

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When your team gets together to brainstorm, the collective, creative energy should feel invigorating. But, if you’re not careful, it can feel chaotic. Ideas get lost in the noise, sessions drag on without much progress, and everyone ends up feeling drained and uninspired. 

Collaborative brainstorming should fit with how your team works best. You should be able to mix real-time brainstorming with time to think and contribute individually. Whether you’re working alone or on a team, you need to look for the right online brainstorming tools that let you generate ideas effectively—during the session or on your own time–so you can keep them moving forward without missing a beat.

That’s why this article breaks down everything you need to know about online brainstorming tools so you can choose the right one for your team to suit your needs and brainstorming style. 

Get a brainstorming tool that adapts to you, not the other way around. 
Switchboard saves your work so you can brainstorm whenever it suits you—with or without a meeting. 
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What to look for in a brainstorming tool

The right online brainstorming tools turn an overwhelmed team into one where the ideas just don’t stop flowing. They bring your ideas and people together so everyone’s on the same page. These tools help you share, organize, and work on ideas in one visual space. 

No more people left out of decision-making processes, no more whiteboard mind maps getting wiped after in-person meetings, no more valuable ideas lost. 

But what do you look for in a brainstorming tool? Well, your tool of choice should allow you to note down, visualize, share, and comment on ideas in whatever way best suits your team. 

Here are the key features that allow you to meld minds and work together in a dynamic, interactive way:

  • Expansive canvas. Your team needs a giant digital wall to visualize all your ideas, questions, documents, media, etc. Ideation works best when creativity flows without butting up against the edge of your screen.
  • AI-powered assistance. AI makes it quicker and easier to generate, organize, and harmonize ideas. AI-powered brainstorming apps also act like real-time assistants. They can pull up relevant info, summarize ideas, automate repetitive tasks, and suggest new solutions. It’s an extra pair of hands and an extra brain in your sessions.
  • Real-time collaboration. Fluid teams work together at the same time, on the same thing, in dynamic ways. Brainstorming tools should help you pass the digital baton back and forth, but faster. This way, your team works in sync like a hive mind.
  • Asynchronous participation. It’s not always possible for everyone to join your brainstorming sessions at the same time. Your tool should let you record sessions, leave messages, and catch up when the time’s right for you. This keeps projects moving forward smoothly, even when the team isn’t online at the same time. 
  • Content organization. Tidy digital desk, tidy mind. Pick a tool that lets you create sections for different topics or projects. This way, it's simpler to find and work in context because everything's where it's supposed to be.
  • Interactive collaboration tools. Choose a tool that helps visual thinkers simplify complex ideas. How'll your team draw, doodle, and note down thoughts? Think digital sticky notes, real-time commenting, and online whiteboards. 

7 best brainstorming tools for creative teamwork  

Whether you’re working with in-office, hybrid, or remote teams, visual collaboration helps you manage the flow of ideas. Here are ‌some of the top tools to help you brainstorm freely. 

Multimedia and real time collaboration

Want to collaborate on complex ideas in a non-linear format? You need tools that let you incorporate various multimedia elements in real time.

Try these.

1. Switchboard

Switchboard room filled with files and brainstorming essentials
Switchboard offers an infinite canvas to collaborate on multimedia and ideas.

Switchboard is an online collaboration platform that helps you move–and brainstorm–faster with fewer meetings. You can share ideas, give feedback, and make decisions in interactive project or meeting rooms. The expansive canvas gives you space to visually organize, share, and work side by side on apps, files, and documents. You can work in the room by yourself or teams can flip on video to meet in a central space where all their work is ready to go.

For example, you could make a Switchboard room specifically for brainstorming. Drag, drop, and organize all the tools you’re already using on the room’s canvas. Websites, applications, images, videos, PDFs, sticky notes – they all can be used side by side in a Switchboard room. Then, share the room with team members you want contributions from. They’ll have access to everything in one place: apps, docs, files, and the latest comments. Because everything for your brainstorming session is a shared space, you can move work forward between meetings. No more lost ideas, no more overwhelm, just impactful group brainstorming.

Key features

  • Expansive brainstorming canvas
  • Dedicated brainstorming rooms 
  • Multiplayer browsers to open any website or web-based app
  • Switchboard AI to help you brainstorm and stay organized 
  • Sticky notes, shapes, notepad, and whiteboard functionalities
  • Built-in brainstorming apps, like voting, polls, and open questions
  • Audio/video conferencing
  • In-app chat
  • Comment threads on any browser, image, video, or sticky note
  • Google Calendar integration to share your brainstorming agenda


  • Free: Includes limited features, rooms, and members (ideal for small teams or individuals).
  • Pro: $15 member/month for up to 200 rooms and 500 members; plus Switchboard AI and additional storage.
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing.

When you sign up for free, you get access to all Pro features during your trial. After that, you can choose to keep your Pro plan or move to the free plan. 

Best for

Switchboard is ideal for individuals and teams who want to brainstorm efficiently with or without meetings. Being able to share ideas and materials and give feedback outside of a meeting means idea generation can move faster. It’s perfect for teams that need both asynchronous and synchronous communication to foster creativity in a way that works for them. 

Brainstorming with AI

AI-powered tools elevate your brainstorming sessions with data-driven insights and creative suggestions. As well as speeding up collaboration, they can help you generate new ideas and organize information quickly. 

2. Switchboard AI

Switchboard AI list of commands
Switchboard AI makes it easy to spark new ideas and get clarity on past brainstorming sessions.

Switchboard’s AI assistant is ready to answer questions, summarize discussions, and spark new ideas. It’s built into your Switchboard room, so it’s always available for idea generation and to summarize activity in the room. It’s like having ChatGPT in the room with you. 

Key features

  • Real-time answers to room-related queries
  • Idea summary generation
  • AI-powered brainstorming
  • Source citation


Switchboard AI is included in the Pro plan (see pricing above). It’s an affordable, ‌integrated way to harness AI for brainstorming and collaboration. 

Best for 

Switchboard AI lets you work smarter, not harder, and get to the best solution quickly and efficiently. It makes it faster to brainstorm, summarize, and present collaborative ideas so everyone’s on the same page.

3. ChatGPT

Screenshot of ChatGPT listing answers to a query
ChatGPT uses AI to help you brainstorm ideas that meet your team’s style.
Source: Zapier

While not specifically designed for ideation, ChatGPT makes a versatile AI brainstorming companion. With well-crafted prompts, it can help you generate, explore, refine, and share your ideas. 

Key features

  • Freeform text generation
  • Versatile response styles
  • Question-answering
  • Idea summarization 
  • Translation
  • Idea formatting


  • Free: ChatGPT-3.5 is free to use, but it’s a less comprehensive and capable model than GPT-4
  • Plus: ChatGPT-4 for $20 a month per user, plus DALL·E, browsing, advanced data analysis and more
  • Team: $25 per user per month with higher messaging caps and the ability to create customized GPTs

Best for

ChatGPT works best for teams that need a helping hand to explore. With the right creativity, you can build prompts that upgrade and streamline your team’s brainstorming. Note: ChatPGT-4 is built into each Switchboard room and is included with paid plans.

Brainstorming with flowcharts

Flowcharts help teams map out complex concepts in an easy-to-understand format. It’s easier to build connections, flag idea gaps, and develop structured solutions when you can visualize them in this way.

4. Lucidchart

Using flowcharts to brainstorm in Lucidchart
Lucidchart uses flowchart-style brainstorming to map ideas.
Source: Lucidchart

Does it feel like your team’s ideas just swirl around in a disorganized mess? If so, you might benefit from organizing ideas into flowcharts. Lucidchart helps you turn unconnected ideas into a clear, visual roadmap. This lets you brainstorm in a more structured way and start to get ideas down into an actionable workflow. 

Key features

  • Drag-and-drop flowchart builder
  • Real-time collaboration and updates
  • Extensive flowchart template library
  • Mind-mapping mode
  • Swimlanes to organize by team or department
  • Annotations and comments


  • Free: The free plan includes limited documents, shapes, and templates
  • Individual: From $8 a month per user for unlimited docs, extra storage, and premium brainstorming templates
  • Team: From $9 a month per user for additional visuals revision history, and security features
  • Enterprise: Custom pricing

Best for 

If your team is seeking a structured way to collaborate and organize ideas visually, Lucidchart helps capture and refine your ideas into an actionable flowchart.

Brainstorming using mind mapping software 

Mind-mapping tools help teams visually organize thoughts and ideas. This lets you facilitate a brainstorming session that gives you an overview of the big picture and lets you visualize non-linear thinking by building relationships between ideas. 

5. Coggle

Color-coded mind mapping in Coggle
Coggle mind maps allow users to color-code thoughts for easier idea visualization.
Source: Coggle

Create colorful, easily digestible mind maps with Coggle. Whether you're working solo or collaborating in a team, Coggle offers an intuitive interface so it’s easy for mind-mapping novices to explore ideas on a virtual canvas.

Key features

  • Drag-and-drop mind maps
  • Images and icons to exemplify points
  • Real-time collaboration
  • Commenting and voting
  • Customizable presentation mode
  • Keyboard shortcuts
  • Unlimited public mind maps on the free plan


Free: 3 private diagrams and unlimited public diagrams, with access to icon libraries and change history

Awesome: $5 per user per month, with unlimited private diagrams and more collaboration features and shapes

Organization: $8/user/month with more features and storage options

Best for

Teams that need a basic, easy-to-use mind-mapping tool for virtual brainstorming.

6. Notion

Notion is an all-in-one workspace with mind-mapping capabilities. It’s a flexible workspace for notes, tasks, and databases. Notion also offers ‌powerful mind-mapping features to accommodate complex brainstorming.

Key features

  • Customizable mind maps with a range of layout options
  • Multimedia and database embedding
  • Customizable templates
  • Powerful search and filtering
  • Shareability and access control
  • Project management integration


  • Free: Collaborative workspace with limited blocks and page history
  • Personal: $5 a month per user for unlimited blocks and file uploads
  • Team: $8 a month per user for more advanced customization and collaboration options

Best for

Notion is ideal for teams that need a complex, versatile brainstorming workspace that lets you organize and present information in varied ways, including mind maps.

7. Figma

Mind Mapping in Figma
Figma offers a visually appealing mind-map tool to collaborate on design ideas.
Source: Figma

Figma is a design-focused tool, making its mind-mapping features ideal for visual brainstorming. Built for creative teams, Figma offers an intuitive way to craft and present mind maps that help organize your team's ideas.

Key features

  • Mind maps with shapes and illustrations
  • Real-time collaborative editing
  • Prototyping capabilities
  • Live commenting
  • Whiteboard tools
  • Presentation mode


Free: Access to the Figma Editor, limited design files, and unlimited drafts

Starter: $12 a month with unlimited design files, team libraries, and advanced prototyping

Professional: $25 a month with advanced analytics and file management

Enterprise: $75 a month with advanced access controls and dedicated workspaces 

Best for

Figma is ideal for design and creative teams. If you want to brainstorm, iterate, and prototype, Figma is great for mind-mapping your ideas. 

Brainstorming using online whiteboarding

Online whiteboarding tools are the digital version of the traditional physical whiteboard. This way, everyone can join in even if they’re not physically in the room. It’s a shared online space to jot down ideas, sketch concepts, and collaborate. 

8. Switchboard

Switchboard's built-in whiteboard helps you capture ideas with a range of dynamic tools. Sketch out concepts, collect ideas, and organize ideas and complex concepts visually for successful team brainstorming. Plus you can use other third-party digital whiteboards in Switchboard, so there’s no need to give up your team’s favorite tool. 

Key features

  • Infinite canvas
  • Multiple named cursors
  • Sticky notes
  • Shapes and drawing tools
  • Comment threads
  • Mobile app


Included with all Switchboard plans, including the free plan and trial.

Best for

Switchboard is ideal for teams that want to use whiteboards alongside images, videos, or websites. The range of different content options offers a way to engage introverts in brainstorming instead of having it dominated by the usual vocal suspects. 

9. FigJam

Whiteboard tool in FigJam
FigJam’s whiteboard tool makes it easy to brainstorm ideas in an easy-to-follow format.
Source: Figjam

FigJam's feature-rich online whiteboard lets you create mockups, diagrams, and mind maps. Teams enjoy real-time collaboration within the whiteboard. Communicate with sticky notes, freehand drawing tools, and multiple cursors.

Key features:

  • Endless canvas
  • Extensive shape and template libraries
  • Sticky notes and freehand drawing tools
  • Whiteboard cursors
  • Vote and prioritization tools
  • Whiteboard presentation mode


Free: The free plan gives access to the Figma editor, limited, collaborative design files, and unlimited personal drafts

Starter: $3 per user per month for unlimited files, open sessions, sharing permissions, and team libraries. 

Professional: $5 per user per month for advanced collaboration and integrations

Enterprise: From $5 a month per user, with dedicated workspaces and advanced access controls

Best for

Great for creative, design-driven teams who want a flexible whiteboard for prototyping.

Online brainstorming tools: Move ideas forward, faster 

Coming together to share ideas with your team–especially if you’re not all in the same office or on the same timezone—can be a challenge to organize. Even when you do get in the physical or virtual room, brainstorming can be chaotic and it’s easy for good ideas to get lost. 

To avoid this, you need online brainstorming tools that help you organize and visualize your ideas. Effective team brainstorming should keep creativity flowing. It’s all about choosing tools that let you build on ideas, not get in the way of their flow. Whether you’re working alone or on a team, you need to look for the right tools that let you brainstorm effectively—in real time or async–so you can keep ideas moving forward without missing a beat.

Luckily, there’s a range of tools that help you brainstorm in a way that suits you best. Enjoy idea exploration? Try ChatGPT. Find flowcharts easy to digest? Try Lucidchart. Looking for a creative whiteboard to scribble down thoughts? Take a look at FigJam. Want color-coded mindmaps to connect scattered thoughts? Jump on Figma.

And then there’s Switchboard, which gives you an expansive multimedia canvas and built-in whiteboard that saves your ideas. That way, you can brainstorm assisted by Switchboard AI to spark creativity and summarize your ideas—so they never get lost again. 

Best of all, with Switchboard you don’t need to choose: All other whiteboard tools work inside its rooms, so you can brainstorm in the way that best suits your team. 

Get a brainstorming tool that adapts to you, not the other way around. 
Switchboard saves your work so you can brainstorm whenever it suits you—with or without a meeting. 
Sign up free

Frequently asked questions about online brainstorming tools

What are the best brainstorming tools for teams? 

Successful team brainstorming tools help you visually organize and work together on ideas in dynamic and easily digestible ways. The blend real-time interaction with asynchronous working to keep your projects flowing. Look for tools like AI-powered brainstorming tools like Switchboard that offer flexible formats and tools to brainstorm and express ideas as text, shapes, sketches, sticky notes, and more.

What are the best virtual brainstorming tools? 

The right virtual brainstorming tool depends on how your team likes to work. For a diverse, all-in-one solution that allows you to work in real time and async, try Switchboard. If you want something more structured and linear, try Lucidchart. If you’re looking for a design-based tool for prototyping, Figma offers a strong alternative.

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Get a brainstorming tool that adapts to you, not the other way around.

Switchboard saves your work so you can brainstorm whenever it suits you—with or without a meeting.