Mind Maps have been described as ‘The Swiss Army Knife for the Brain.’ There are countless uses. In this and this series of posts I will list twenty-six from A to Z. Here is part three covering S to Z.
- Speech outline / delivery
Writing a compelling speech or presentation is facilitated by a Mind Map. Just like an essay plan you can keep your focus without wandering off on tangents. If you deliver your lecture based on a Mind Map you are freed form reading notes and can expand or contract your delivery if required. Because Mind Maps summarise the essence of your talk you can be more conversational and engaging. If reviewed, you can easily memorise your Mind Map and speak without the need for any notes.
- Textbook study
Employing skimming reading techniques and the ‘Buzan Organic Study Technique’, it is possible to create a Mind Map summary of the key points of a textbook in an hour. Get together with a group of friends and simultaneously Mind Map a different book each. At the end of the hour photocopy all the Mind Maps in black and white so everyone has a copy of the full set. Each person takes a turn to give a brief presentation of their Mind Map whilst the other members of the team add colour plus any notes to their copy. This allows them to personalise it and take ownership of the knowledge. At the end of the process each person goes away with a fairly comprehensive understanding of as many books as people in the team. This is perfect for University study where students are required to ‘read around a subject’. If a book is identified as particularly important it can be Mind Mapped in depth (see Book Summaries previously).
Because of the associative nature of a Mind Map they provide relevant context to information. This promotes deep understanding and improved memory. This is ideal for study, analysis or strategic thinking.
- Visual thinking / aids
Mind Maps are way to visually represent information. The ultimate infographic. They can be used to as visual aids in a presentation, book chapter summaries and introductions or posters outlining a project or scheme of work.
- Write a book
When writing a book, I start with a software Mind Map outline of the whole book with a branch for each chapter. I then create an individual Mind Map for each chapter going into the detail. I can rearrange branches as much as I like before I write anything. Once I am happy with the flow I add a few paragraphs of notes to each branch in turn. By splitting up the thinking and writing process I end up with a better structured book with much less editing than would normally be required. It also massively speeds up the writing process as I don’t have to write in the sequence of the book. I never suffer from ‘writer’s block’ and can choose to work on a chapter or section as the fancy takes me, knowing it will all gel together in the end. For example, I usually write the introduction last. If collaborating, a Mind Map allows each author to work on their part within a solid framework without duplication.
- Xmas cards
It has become something of a tradition that my Christmas e-card each year is a Mind Map of the lyrics to a Christmas song. I try to use a few words as possible and include visual puns and jokes. I then animate the Mind Map in time to the music. Some examples include “Santa Baby”, “Santa Claus in Coming to Town”, “Let it Snow”, “White Christmas”, etc.
- Yearly review / plan
Having a plan for the year is a great way of ensuring you stay focused on your goals. A Mind Map lets you see the big picture, and in a team, shows how each person’s contribution fits into the whole.
- Zero wasted time
I know ‘zero’ is a bit of a stretch as a title starting with ‘z’ but creating a Mind Map to-do plan for a day, week or month is well worthwhile. As soon as you’ve completed a task you can refer back to your Mind Map plan without any hesitation of what needs doing next. All your projects can be shown at a glance. What’s more, since everything is on one page you can immediately see any tasks the can be grouped together to avoid duplication of effort. I use a highlighter pen to strike off items as they are completed. It is a great feeling to reach the end of a week or month and see everything coloured green. If you need to add tasks this can be done more easily than editing a liner list.
So there you have it - The A-Z of Mind Map applications. I’d love to hear how you use Mind Maps in your work or personal life. I know someone who met his wife through Mind Maps!
I challenge you to find anything that Mind Maps can’t be used for, with the caveat that any suggestions are physically possible. Mind Maps can’t turn lead into gold, though of course they could be used to theorise how this could be achieved.