This week we are looking at mindmaps and exploring how we can add them to our armory of tools for presentation.
OK, so I know we are all familiar with the ‘mindmap’ or ‘spider-diagram’. Many of us find it a wonderful way to harness the creative powers of our brain and develop new ideas and understanding within an idea or topic. However, unless we have experienced it, many of us are not aware that the humble mindmap can also be used as a wonderful way of presenting information in a non-linear way, that encourages ongoing thought and research beyond the confines of the immediate presentation.
A Little Background:
The name ‘Mindmap’ was coined by the British popular psychology author – Tony Buzan in the 70′s who proposed the concept that your brain would be at it’s most creative and resourceful if it worked visually by drawing on paper, a radial tree of thoughts, emanating from a key concept. Mind you, to be fair, this general idea of graphically visualising a concept goes right back to Aristotle.
Wikipedia gives a good overview of Mind Maps which suggests sticking to:
The Fundamental rules of mind-mapping:
- Start in the centre with an image of the topic, using at least 3 colours.
- Use images, symbols, codes and dimensions throughout your Mind Map.
- Select key words and print using upper or lower case letters.
- Each word/image must be alone and sitting on its own line.
- The lines must be connected, starting from the central image. The central lines are thicker, organic and flowing, becoming thinner as they radiate out from the centre.
- Make the lines the same length as the word/image.
- Use colours – your own code – throughout the Mind Map.
- Develop your own personal style of Mind Mapping.
- Use emphasis and show associations in your Mind Map.
- Keep the Mind Map clear by using radial hierarchy, numerical order or outlines to embrace your branches.
For some people, real mindmaps (that stick to the rules above) can only be really created by hand, on paper, with lots of colour and drawing, but others have found the method of thinking and organising your thoughts, proposed by the general rules of mindmapping, transferred well to a digital form and a plethora of mindmapping tools have been developed to allow us to create mindmaps on a computer or mobile device.
These tools vary from some simple free tools which provide a visual way of joining concepts and thoughts, right through to highly complex desktop software, with high levels of functionality, allowing you to build multi-layered documents that can then be integrated into other office tools.
There is such a wide range of software, that you might wish to review the list of mindmapping software on Wikipedia, but to give you a start, you might like to look at the following mindmapping tools:
Mindmeister – offers a simple browser-based interface, with a range of mobile apps. As it is free (for up to 3 mindmaps at least) and offers the functionality to present, we will be working with this tool in this week.
XMind – is a highly functional open-source desktop based mindmapping software that is available for PC, Mac & Linux. The standard version is free, but unfortuneately this does not include the presentation functionality. You can upload a mindmap to the internet for viewing, but there is no way to edit online, nor are there any mobile apps for this software.
SimpleMind - is a nice simple, clean software available for the desktop and for mobile apps, but does not support presentations, nor online editing, and most versions are commercial.
Wisemapping – is an open-source browser-based tool. It is free to use and offers much of the same basic functionality as Mindmeister, including sharing, but unfortuneatley not the ability to give presentation. It is however, unlimited and totally free.
Enough skills to get you going:
Well, first, you need to open an account with Mindmeister:
Mindmeister offer a range of licenses, from a free basic version through to a premium version with unlimited maps and additional functionality.
For this week, you can if you wish, choose a trial of any of these ‘paid’ licenses, but I would suggest you just use the ‘basic’ version, which is rather hidden at the bottom of the page:
Once you have applied for an account, Mindmeister will send you a confirmation email and when you have accepted this, you will be able to open the Mindmeister desktop:
On the desktop folder, you will see that there is already an introductory mindmap created for you, so click on that to open it up in the editing window:
The program is a doddle to work with, so just explore and have fun. It is mostly self-explanatory, but just remember:
- Click the Insert or Tab to make a ‘child’ sub-topic, below the highlighted topic.
- Click the enter to make a new ‘sibling’ topic at the same level as the highlighted topic
- You can move any topic by ‘click-and-dragging’ with the mouse
- Once you have clicked on a topic, you can change its properties, add links, Files, Tasks or Notes as well as images or emoticons.
The program encourages you to play with the visual aspects of the mindmap, so go ahead and move things around and change their properties as much as you like. Remember the rules!
Once you have got a handle on the basics, you can go on to share the mindmap with other mindmap users or use your mindmap as a presentation tool:
Sharing: click on the ‘share this map’ icon ￼ and click on the ‘shared’ button and you will see how to invite colleagues to work with you on the mindmap. However, remember that of course they will have to also have accounts with Mindmeister first.
Presenting: Click on the ‘presentation’ icon ￼ and you will see a blue box with a #1 on the mindmap. You can move this and re-size it so that it contains the contents you want to have in your first slide.
For each transition, you can choose the effect to use and then click on ‘Start Slideshow’ ￼, which will take you through the slides as you had arranged and ordered them. This works well if you want to make the presentation via a projector, but if you want to deliver the presentation online, you will have to either share your screen via Skype or an other screen-sharing tool, or you can share with those people that you have already shared the presentation with.
Good luck, although it is quite an easy program to get a handle on, it may take a while to learn how to get the best out of it.
And your task for this week is….
For your task this week, I would like you to start a MindMeister account, create a mindmap, share it and then try using it as a presentation.
- Create a Mindmeister mindmap and then map out your thoughts on the subject: ‘Mindmaps for Presentation’.
- Put the title in the middle and then think through the pros and cons and consider what opportunities and what challenges the tool will give. Whilst you do this, try and remember the rules, we looked at earlier.
- When you are happy with your mindmap, share it with others, to get their feedback.
- Then finally try setting it up as a presentation and run it through for yourself or present it to some friends
Hopefully, this will give you a good feeling for working with mindmaps and using them as a presentation tool, but if you have time, try looking at the other mindmapping tools and see how they work and which one suits you the best.
OK, so what do you think:
Having looked at Mindmeister and spent some time making mindmaps, here are some things to think about in your blog this week:
- Have you used Mindmaps before? If not, would you use them again?
- Do they fit in ‘personally’ with the way you explore a subject? Would you consider yourself a visual ‘thinker’ or ‘presenter’.
- Can you think of any particular projects, which you could use Mindmeister to collaborate on?
- What did you think about the functionality of using Mindmeister for a presentation? Would you be able to use this within your own practice?
- Do you think of mindmapping as working best at a personal level….or a collaborated level?
I hope you enjoyed this week and look forwards to reading your posts in the next few days.