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Plan Your Next Presentation with Mapping
By Chris King

While listening to a business tape recently, I was reminded of Tony Buzan and his innovative brain work in the 1960s when he created the breakthrough tool called Mind Mapping. I went to my own shelf of tape series, and found Michael Gelb’s program, Mind Mapping: How to Liberate Your Natural Genius. Gelb was the first person awarded the distinction of “Master Teacher” by the Buzan Foundation – and, he knows his stuff! After listening to the series during the past week and starting to reacquaint myself with the strength of the system by playing with it (Mind Mapping should be fun and like “play” to be effective), I realized what a great tool this is and can be for planning a presentation.

I know how usual it is for me to settle on my topic, my theme for that topic, break it into three points, then create an opening, a body and a close. I imagine all of you have a technique for planning a presentation with which you are comfortable, too. I suggest, however, that it’s time to get out of your comfort zone and try something different, fun and rewarding. Let’s try a Mind Map.

Why use a Mind Map? What are the benefits?

  • Faster and more creative thinking
  • Accomplish more in less time
  • Tune into inner, intuitive ideas
  • Freedom to consider random thoughts and let yourself go
  • Makes use of synvergent thinking – rather than using either the left (linear thinking) brain or the right (artistic thinking) brain, both are at work together
  • You will uncover thoughts and talents you didn’t know you had

What will I need to make a successful Mind Map?

  • Huge pieces of paper, crayons, colored pens, pencils and markers, along with a comfortable place with lots of space to work alone
  • A playful, fun, light and positive attitude free from judgment and/or evaluation of any ideas that happen to pop up. In other words, be ready to let yourself go, think fast, free associate and keep moving
  • Be ready to follow the steps described by Buzan and Gelb, but don’t become too bound to rules or worrying about doing a Mind Map the wrong way – remember, this Map is for you and you alone. In my experience, the basic form works differently for different people.
  • Also be prepared to try again if the first attempt doesn’t work out the way you hoped it would. After all, this is your first trial. Even though I played with Mind Mapping years ago, it is now making much more sense to me and a real impact on what I am considering.

I’m ready. What next?

  1. Because the mind actually focuses on the center, start in the center of the paper with your topic and/or a symbol or icon circled.
  2. Draw lines radiating from the center and print any keyword that comes to mind on each line (let yourself go, don’t worry if they don’t all seem to relate to your topic).
  3. Do use color, pictures and symbols as you let the original words activate other words and inspire other ideas. Associate freely and work quickly (when we slow down, we are tempted to judge and evaluate).
  4. Just keep going – as long as the ideas are coming and you are having fun.
  5. When you feel that you have done as much as you can, you can go back and organize, getting rid of what doesn’t work or is superfluous, and actually redrawing once the associations are made.
  6. You can now use the Map as the structure for your presentation or actually go back to outlining what you have created through the exercise.

Being re-introduced to this great tool that integrates the free-flowing imagination mode with more focused, analytical ways of thinking, I have realized that it will also serve as a way to set goals and even re-design my business plan.

During my rediscovery of Mind Mapping, I also surfed the net and find several interesting and related websites. First, you will find out all about Tony Buzan at You will find out all about the history of Mind Mapping and what is happening today in this field. Another interesting site is where you will find innovation at its finest. Joyce Wycoff has created (see the bottom of the home page) “Mindmapping – 8 easy steps” and my favorite, “Idea Workout Gym.” If you ever feel like your imagination is “on hold” visit her site. And, finally, visit which is geared toward the business person. Just make sure that you have plenty of time for your visits. I guarantee you will find more than you bargained for.

So, get started with this fun project! And, be sure to let me know how it turns out for you.

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