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Aug 20

Mind Maps : tips on how to prepare and give a presentation

Mind Maps help you gather and organise your ideas

What holds you back when you are preparing a presentation?  Writer's block is a common problem.  Another is getting side-tracked into the formatting of text and how it will look, when you should be generating ideas instead.  A mind map is a powerful tool to help gather and organise your ideas.  The branch structure works in the same way as your mind does.  You think of one word and then other related words spring to mind.  Don't worry if you think a word is not related, as you have just created a new branch.

You can do this with pencil and paper and this is a good way to get started.  There are a number of software packages to choose from and I happen to prefer iMindMap, which I have used for over seven years.  Most of my mind maps are for clients and are not suitable for sharing. The story of how I used a mind map to prepare and deliver a presentation to students at Otago University is a good case, which I am happy to share.

Start your presentation with the main building blocks

The Otago University branch of AIESEC asked me to talk about  how social media could be used to change the world and bridge cultural divides.  This is a topic dear to my heart.

Mind Maps

Start with the main branches

The first image shows the level one branches of the mind map to emphasise the main building blocks of the presentation:

  1. Change potential
  2. Revolution against rulers
  3. Genocide, often lead by rulers
  4. "Think the unthinkable"
  5. How social media affects change

The full mind map below shows how I expanded each branch. Revolution contrasted the Gunpowder Plot with 9/11.  Genocide looked at Nazi Germany and Rwanda. The end of apartheid and the fall of the Berlin Wall are powerful examples of the "unthinkable" becoming reality thanks to pressure for ordinary people.  Lastly there were two different examples of the use of social media: Obama's election campaign and the Arab Spring.

iMindMap

You can use the mind map both to prepare and deliver the presentation

Once I had gathered and organised by thoughts, I could then prepare the slides with help from my Virtual Assistant. The slides were mainly images with short headings and I kept the text to a bare minimum.  I used several YouTube videos, both to show how people were using this social media channel  and to give breaks from me speaking.

Rather than prepare presentation notes, I wrote some notes on print out of the mind map and I used this as my guide.  There is nothing worse than hearing someone reading their notes out loud, as it is difficult not to fall into "reading out loud mode".  Using the mind map helps keep you on track and reminds you of the main points you want to make. If you cannot simplify what you want to convey into a few key messages, your audience is likely to get distracted.

Please feel free to share this and I urge you to experiment with mind maps for your next presentation.

Simon Fawkes
Accredited Mindshop Facilitator
Business to Markets Ltd