Mapping the way

If you’re a regular reader of my weekly ramblings, you’ll recall that I try very hard to avoid talking too specifically about the esteemed business communications profession and I try even harder to avoid talking too specifically about any hijinks that occur at the place where I spend 40 or so hours Monday through Friday.

This week, I’m not going to necessarily break those rules, but maybe bruise them just a bit.

My former boss is a staunch proponent of mind mapping. If you’re not familiar, mind mapping is way to use diagrams to represent thoughts or ideas, linking these concepts to a central key word or idea.

In my line of work, it’s a great tool for organizing thoughts and assembling ideas in a logical pattern. In fact, many of the postings on these pages are born from mind maps.

A great primer on the subject is Tony Buzan’s The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential

This week, I tried something for the first time. I used a mind map – as a substitute for note cards – to deliver a Toastmasters speech.

It may not sound like a big deal, but for me it was a huge change in the way I’ve prepared and delivered a presentation.  I cheated a little in that the topic of the speech was a recycling of my landmark blog post on my life changing decision to purchase an iPhone.

As anyone in the communications biz knows, writing for the eye and writing for the ear are two separate and distinct disciplines. Using the mind map to break up individual thoughts allowed me to tell a series of stories, instead of merely reading words on a page.


Don't worry, the speech sounded better than it looked on paper!


As you can see in the image above, the use of colors in constructing mind maps is strongly encouraged.

This part is a little tricky.

At home, I have to bribe Zoe for her colored pencils. At work, certain colleagues (who should really mind their business) tend to make snide, snarky remarks toward what their uninformed eyes see as doodling.

Mind mapping is definitely one of those things I wish I had taken advantage of in my youth.

If you’re looking for an easy, intuitive way to pull ideas out of your head to get them on paper, or into an audience’s ears, you might consider giving mind mapping a try.

(Wow, I just wrote a blog posting on a communications related topic. There go my standards, flying right out the window!)


One comment

  1. ian schmeisser

    John – there is a product called Personal Brain that I think will help you, and give Zoe back her colored pencils.

    you can try this for free, and the purchased product is very powerful. Somehow I still do better with flow charts, but this is an interesting product.

    Hope things are well out your way.



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