I fell in love with mindmapping when I first saw someone create one in 1994 to explain how to set up a complicated project with many parts. It just felt right to me – organic and freeing. Though mindmaps can be adapted for all sorts of planning and communication work, there are three fundamental ways that I recommend you use them.
Corral your mustang mind
We all struggle with minds that are swirling with many ideas, mostly ill-formed. A mindmap extends your brain and anchors a few thoughts to get started. It’s like pounding in a tent stake; get one anchored and the others become easier. Don’t worry about the order, so just get the ideas out of your head and in the map somewhere. Later you can edit the wording, rearrange, and group to your heart’s content. You can intentionally create parallel branches and see which works better. 90% of your mindmaps should be just for you, and not shared with others.
Capture ideas in brainstorming and group-think
Lists have a downside; many times people in a group setting have ideas and thoughts which don’t fit into the list the group started. A mindmap lets you put something down anywhere, not worrying if it fits. The key here is to capture ideas, however messy, and worry about editing and rearranging later on. Be sure you tell the group at the start that you’re not worried about “pretty.”
Share your story
The best persuasion and updates work by sharing a story, vs. reading text-dense slides to the audience, or even telling a story. You want your audience to be engaged. Dynamically collapsing and uncollapsing the branches on a mindmap with multiple threads will help people stay engaged as you work through your story. Frankly, you may score significant points just because you aren’t using the nerve-deadening familiar PowerPoint template for the 2974th time.
What have you found effective? Let us know in the comments!