The Secret to Creative Presentations

Posted by Barry Flanagan on Mar 3rd, 2008
Mar 3

In my post "The Six R’s to Beat the Curse", I included a simple mind map of the Six R’s.


Six Rs of Communication

  (click on thumbnail to enlarge)


Mind Mapping is a concept that was introduced to me about 5 years ago. Mind mapping is a fantastic way to improve your creativity and retention of ideas. Mind maps work in a way very similar to how the human brain works. One thought leads to an association which leads to another thought, and another. The physical structure of the brain and nervous systems also works in a similar way – an electrical impulse in one neuron is sent through a dendrite to another neuron, then to another neuron. Tony Buzan came up with term mind map (and owns the trademark) though some argue the idea has been around for centuries.


Below is the definition of a mind map from Wikipedia -


A mind map is a diagram used to represent words, ideas, tasks or other items linked to and arranged radially around a central key word or idea. It is used to generate, visualize, structure and classify ideas, and as an aid in study, organization, problem solving, decision making, and writing.


It is an image-centered diagram that represents semantic or other connections between portions of information. By presenting these connections in a radial, non-linear graphical manner, it encourages a brainstorming approach to any given organizational task, eliminating the hurdle of initially establishing an intrinsically appropriate or relevant conceptual framework to work within.


A mind map is similar to a semantic network or cognitive map but there are no formal restrictions on the kinds of links used.


The elements are arranged intuitively according to the importance of the concepts and they are organized into groupings, branches, or areas. The uniform graphic formulation of the semantic structure of information on the method of gathering knowledge, may aid recall of existing memories.



A process for brainstorming, note taking or outlining that closely mirrors the actual structure of the human brain and our thought processes is bound to be dramatically more effective than typical processes such as linear outlines.


Most public speaking coaches will recommend you outline a presentation as a first step, and not go directly to Powerpoint as I once did. Once I began to use mind maps as my main brainstorming and preparation tool for presentations, I found I was able to be much more creative and innovative. I was also able to avoid "writer’s block" and save a great deal of time. My presentations began to have a much more intuitive structure as well. I now mind map projects, training sessions and brainstorming sessions. I have mind maps that link to multiple web sites, Word documents, mp3 files and include multiple pictures. I highly recommend using mind maps instead of outlines (or PowerPoint) as your first step in mapping out a presentation, speech, or white board session.


There are many resources to help you learn mind mapping. The first one I used was by the original developer of the mind map concept, Tony Buzan. His book "The Mind Map Book: How to Use Radiant Thinking to Maximize Your Brain’s Untapped Potential" is an excellent first start. I also listened to the audio book by Michael Gelb  entitled "Mind Mapping:How to Liberate Your Natural Genius" . Today, many more resources are readily available thanks to online video and podcasts.


Buzan himself has made several videos on mind mapping. I found a quick intro video on YouTube -




 This short video (3 minutes) gives you a great overview of Buzan’s seven laws of mind mapping with excellent examples.





I do use pencil and paper to create mind maps in meetings, but my prefferred method is to use software. MindJet Mind Manager is the best tool I have used by far. In the quick tour overview at the MindJet site you can get an idea of the flexibility and power of this fantastic tool. I found a couple of examples on YouTube of how far you can go with Mind Manager 7. The video below shows some of the powerful features of Mind Manager through a mind map of Great Adventure.




There are many other tools available of course.Tony Buzan now offers iMindMap and there is also Concept Draw, 3D TopicScape and Visual Mind. There are several open source options, including Free Mind. Wikipedia has an extensive list of the different mind mapping software packages available.


I recently discovered two web based packages, and MINDOMO. is completley free (for now) and MINDOMO has a free offering and a premium offering.


Whether you prefer to get a more interactive experience with pencil and paper or you want the power of software, give mind mapping a shot the next time you need to outline a presentation or brainstorm for new ideas. I think you will be surprised at how much more creative and innovative you can be with the right tool.




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