As I began to write an outline of her project, my usually reserved client let out a desperate groan. She was experiencing feelings of being overwhelmed and “beaten up” by the things she had to do, and the outline looked like a big weapon. I avoid making my clients miserable, so I whisked the paper away and asked, “Are you interested in trying something new?” She was.
I picked up a fistful of colored markers and, using a big sheet of flip-chart paper, wrote a few words naming her project in the center of the sheet and drew an oval around them. Radiating from the central theme, we began to add various concerns, sub-projects, thoughts, and questions. The “something new” that I introduced was mind-mapping, a technique to organize information in a non-linear way.
Use mind-mapping whenever you want to gather information, ideas, and questions; sort out connections that may not be apparent, or present information in a more holistic format than is possible with lists or outlines.
Here are three uses for mind-mapping:
1. Designing a class, speech, or book. Put the topic or title in the center of the page, then add themes you want to address related to that topic.
2. Introducing someone publicly. Put the person’s name in the center of the page, then surround it with all the areas you want to cover: work history, awards and accolades, contributions to the industry, philanthropic interests, and so on. It’s amazing how much information a one-page mind-map will hold, allowing you as the presenter to speak from compact notes without reading text. The speaker will bless you for it.
3. Planning a project such as a move or renovation. Into the center of the page goes the goal. Surrounding it are the broad categories of action needed to make it a reality. Radiating from those categories will be discrete tasks.
If you’re struggling to get your arms around a project, create a mind-map first. You’ll be off and running.
What will you do with a mind-map? Leave a comment here.