Do You Mind Map?


By Morag Barrett on May 8, 2012

Posted by Morag Barrett | May 8, 2012Do You Mind Map?Mind mapping is a tool that I have found useful when I am under a short time frame and need to organise my thoughts around what needs to be communicated.  Wikipedia have a section on mind mapping and you can Google the term to find more examples.Have you been in that situation, in a meeting or preparing for a presentation and your mind either goes blank “oh no what am I going to talk about” or goes into overdrive “how am I going to fit all of this into the time available”?  This is where I have found the power of mind maps and this technique.Essentially you start with your central theme / idea in the middle of your page (Think of it as your book / book title). You then draw main branches leading from this, (these are the chapters) that you will need to touch on during your presentation.  From each branch you draw side branches, (the paragraphs) that you need to cover within each chapter and from each side branch you can subdivide further to key points / statistics etc that need to be discussed, and… ta-da… you have a mind map.How is this useful? well it allows you to organize your thoughts onto one piece of paper. You can determine the order that you want to talk to each point and depending on time available you can focus on the main branches or go to more detail as required. It helps to ensure you cover the key themes the NEED TO HAVE information not just the small branches or NICE TO HAVES.  It also allows me to capture my thoughts in whatever order they come to me and then prioritize them.  I simply number each key point in the order that makes most sense.  Invariably, if I try to do the same activity in a linear form or as a list I will remember something later on that I want to talk about earlier in the order.  I then need to ‘squeeze it in’, the page starts to look a mess, I can’t read or follow it as easily and I end up less than fluent and articulate when I need to actually deliver my message.  With the mind map technique it is easier to slot in the information as a new branch / side branch as required.I use this as a demonstration of how to prepare for a presentation in each of my presentation skills classes.  The group choose a topic that they feel I am not that well versed in; I have had suggestions like American Football, old cars, golf, the history of fly fishing etc etc.  The group then help to create the mind map and I then give a three-five minute presentation on that chosen topic.  Trust me mind maps are a powerful tool.  Mind maps work.I have also used it in meetings when an impromptu round table starts, requiring updates on key projects etc.  I will quickly draw a mind map with a branch for each project, outline progress, challenges, current priorities on the sub branches and (hopefully) by the time it is my turn, have my notes ready such that I can deliver a concise and effective summary of my priorities.There is much written about mind maps – some sources cite the use of color and all sorts of ground rules etc.  Me? I stick with simplicity, whichever pen comes to hand, one color and quickly sketch it out.  I have seen others use it as a tool for taking minutes in a meeting or studying – this hasn’t worked for me (though it may for you).  The most powerful use I have found, is those moments where someone says to you “hey I need you to go and talk about x in 5 minutes…will you be ok with that?”Try it – see if it works for you.Related ArticlesTags »communicationLearningPresentation Skills Share
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