Map ideas to organize thoughts and then communicate a vision
What is Mind Mapping?
Mind Mapping is a concept mapping technique that consists of drawing a map of words to connect ideas and clarify your thoughts. A Mind Map is a colorful radiant diagram that helps to visualize and organize ideas, notes and informations. Mind Maps were popularized by Tony Buzan in 1974 during a BBC TV Show “Use your Head”. He later published The Mind Map Book.
It is a simple, visual technique of mapping concepts. You can use it to take notes, memorize informations, organize ideas to communicate, write articles or prepare talks and lectures.
Mind Mapping to Communicate
I personally use it to write and express ideas. After the research phase, I end-up with a tonne of notes, articles extracts, redundant ideas and a long list of key words. I start to draw a Mind Map to summarize my findings, structure the key insights and connect my ideas. I then get a visual overview of my understanding.
For each subject, I make a specific Mind Map that will then help me to memorize key ideas, extract valuable takeaways and forge my personal views on this subject. I can then draft few slides, write an article, record a podcast or give a talk… On subjects that I have a lot of experience on and a deep understanding of, it helps me to simplify a vision and clarify the essence of it.
Keep it Simple
It’s the content, the clarity and organization of key words that matters. I still prefer to use a blank sheet of paper and a set of assorted pens, so that I am not restricted in terms of design and drawing by a software. I draw whatever helps me to visualize my thoughts on a topic without respecting strict presentation rules.
I collected my personal idea database by scanning thousands of mind maps over the years. The magic of Mind Mapping happens when months later by just looking 15 seconds at one old mind map, I quickly recall the key ideas vividly. I also share some scanned Mind Maps with my podcast co-host as mentioned on the article about our experience of podcasting.
How-to Draw a Mind Map?
A first experiment: What does Happiness mean to you? Write Happiness in the center of a blank sheet of paper. Think about it. What are the first ideas coming to your mind? Add a first circle of key words directly associated with Happiness. Keep expanding your thoughts from each of these key words. Three layers of ideas should be enough to give you an overview of your take on Happiness. Bravo! You just drawn your first Mind Map.
Mind Mapping Process
- Start with One central Word: Name the core idea that you are looking to explore. Write this word at the center of your page. Underline or circle that name. Start to think what it triggers.
- Expand from the Center: Link ideas, key words and thoughts around the core idea. Add without overthinking. Don’t Edit yet. Get messy.
- Go with the Flow: Branch ideas from each key word. Develop thoughts.
- Take a Break: go for a walk, sleep over your first draft. Your brain will now takeover and start a process of organizing the information, clarifying your thoughts and reinforcing key relations between words.
- Connect, Simplify and Make Sense: It’s now time to edit and organize your ideas in a clear and visual form. Associate ideas in a meaningful way. Tell a story. Cut any redundancy. Cut everything that’s not strictly relevant. Keep what’s essential. Don’t hesitate to use colors to highlight certain ideas, to differentiate concepts. You can also draw symbols if they are more meaningful to you than words.
What do I like about Mind Mapping?
It’s important to say that Mind Mapping isn’t for everyone. In my experience, it makes sense and works only with visual thinkers. After years of practice, Mind Mapping is my favorite way of taking notes. It saved me numerous times from sleeping during boring meetings. I draw diagrams after reading a nonfiction book or hearing a good podcast. It helps me to develop an idea in a visual way, that speaks to me. I draw diagrams to structure my thoughts and understand concepts, patterns, processes and systems. I use it to solve problems by visualizing and prioritizing solutions. I am not sure if it helps me to memorize, but I do recall easily complex ideas by scrolling over a Mind Map. I use Mind Mapping to write articles, to present new projects, to organize the index of a book project or to prepare an important talk.