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From Mind Map to Presentation

From Mind Map to Presentation

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    I’ve got a couple big presentations coming up in the next month. For each of them, I have to start from a very broad topic and then focus in on information that will actually be useful to the people I’m speaking to. It’s something I’ve struggled with: I’ve tried just jumping straight into making a presentation and tossing my thoughts on to slides, but then I’ve got a very disorganized mess. I’ve also tried outlining, and while it seems to work better, I find myself skipping around within the outline quite a bit. Instead, the approach that seems to work the best for me is a simple mind map.

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    Information Organization

    Mind maps seem to particularly make sense for planning presentations because a good presentation does not have to be perfectly linear. If you’re presenting something with a set format, like a business plan or a research project, the format has nothing to do with a timeline — instead, you must make sure that you share specific bits of information that lead you to a particular hypothesis or sales predictions. Such pieces of information can be added to a mind map easily.

    When you don’t have a set format to follow, mind mapping becomes even more useful. I usually have a few concepts I know that I want to talk about when I sit down to plan a presentation. I’ll set these concepts up as offshoots of my main topic and then start adding more information. If I find that, as I add more ideas to my map, one concept no longer fits very well, I can eliminate it entirely or move the information associated with it to other points on my mind map (I use software like bubbl.us to make that part of the process much easier).

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    I often find that just the act of setting down the ideas I already have in mind map form is enough to spark a whole list more, making the first stages of planning a presentation a question of 15 minutes — rather than the hour or so it used to take me.

    From Map to Presentation

    Most of my presentations wind up being in Powerpoint or similar software. I’m not the biggest fan of such an approach, but it works and my audience tends to know exactly what to expect. It’s also pretty simple for me to translate a mind map into a series of slide.

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    Typically, my slides consist of the first layer or two of concepts that branch out from my main topic. I try very hard to limit my presentation to main topics and the images necessary to explain them. Details don’t necessarily make it on to my slides — although I do add them to my notes so that I can speak about them. It is possible to add each detail to your slides, perhaps as a bullet point, but then you’re more likely to wind up reading directly off your slides — a big presentation problem.

    In addition to my slides, I have my notes, which correspond to each slide. I don’t fully write out every thought that I want to share with an audience. Instead, I keep my notes short. I typically have to practice my presentation to make sure that short notes are enough to recall exactly what I want to say. If I have enough time, I like to practice to the point that I won’t even need notes — but that just doesn’t always happen, though this approach has definitely cut down on the overall amount of time I need to plan a presentation.

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    From Scratch Presentations

    There are some situations in which a mind map doesn’t actually help me develop a presentation. If I’m putting together material on a brand new topic, they can be great. But if I’ve already spoken about a particular topic, it’s much faster to take an old presentation and adapt it to a new audience. Reusing the entire presentation doesn’t often work — even small differences in the audiences you’re talking to can necessitate some big changes in your approach to the topic — but I don’t need to start from scratch.

    At most, I might find myself mapping out a new section for an existing section, but even that is rare. I find that as long as the framework is there, I can typically just add material as needed. I’ve actually set out to plan a new presentation on an old subject from scratch, without success — I felt like I was missing some very crucial sections when I compared my new and old presentations.

    Presentation Planning

    I’ve found mind maps to be an ideal option for planning my presentations — but I know many people use other systems. I’ve seen a few people sit down at a computer and put together a Powerpoint with no pre-planning, while others do extensive research and practically write a paper before crafting a presentation. Still others seem to have a vast archive of presentations they’ve done (or ‘borrowed’) that they just adapt each time.

    What approaches work best for you? Can you use the same approach no matter what tpe of presentation you’re doing? I’m interested in learning what techniques really work for you — and if there’s a particular piece or software or a tool that you find useful, I’d love to hear it as well.

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    Last Updated on February 11, 2021

    Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

    Easily Misunderstood by Others? 6 Barriers You Should Overcome to Make Communication Less Frustrating

    How often have you said something simple, only to have the person who you said this to misunderstand it or twist the meaning completely around? Nodding your head in affirmative? Then this means that you are being unclear in your communication.

    Communication should be simple, right? It’s all about two people or more talking and explaining something to the other. The problem lies in the talking itself, somehow we end up being unclear, and our words, attitude or even the way of talking becomes a barrier in communication, most of the times unknowingly. We give you six common barriers to communication, and how to get past them; for you to actually say what you mean, and or the other person to understand it as well…

    The 6 Walls You Need to Break Down to Make Communication Effective

    Think about it this way, a simple phrase like “what do you mean” can be said in many different ways and each different way would end up “communicating” something else entirely. Scream it at the other person, and the perception would be anger. Whisper this is someone’s ear and others may take it as if you were plotting something. Say it in another language, and no one gets what you mean at all, if they don’t speak it… This is what we mean when we say that talking or saying something that’s clear in your head, many not mean that you have successfully communicated it across to your intended audience – thus what you say and how, where and why you said it – at times become barriers to communication.[1]

    Perceptual Barrier

    The moment you say something in a confrontational, sarcastic, angry or emotional tone, you have set up perceptual barriers to communication. The other person or people to whom you are trying to communicate your point get the message that you are disinterested in what you are saying and sort of turn a deaf ear. In effect, you are yelling your point across to person who might as well be deaf![2]

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    The problem: When you have a tone that’s not particularly positive, a body language that denotes your own disinterest in the situation and let your own stereotypes and misgivings enter the conversation via the way you talk and gesture, the other person perceives what you saying an entirely different manner than say if you said the same while smiling and catching their gaze.

    The solution: Start the conversation on a positive note, and don’t let what you think color your tone, gestures of body language. Maintain eye contact with your audience, and smile openly and wholeheartedly…

    Attitudinal Barrier

    Some people, if you would excuse the language, are simply badass and in general are unable to form relationships or even a common point of communication with others, due to their habit of thinking to highly or too lowly of them. They basically have an attitude problem – since they hold themselves in high esteem, they are unable to form genuine lines of communication with anyone. The same is true if they think too little of themselves as well.[3]

    The problem: If anyone at work, or even in your family, tends to roam around with a superior air – anything they say is likely to be taken by you and the others with a pinch, or even a bag of salt. Simply because whenever they talk, the first thing to come out of it is their condescending attitude. And in case there’s someone with an inferiority complex, their incessant self-pity forms barriers to communication.

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    The solution: Use simple words and an encouraging smile to communicate effectively – and stick to constructive criticism, and not criticism because you are a perfectionist. If you see someone doing a good job, let them know, and disregard the thought that you could have done it better. It’s their job so measure them by industry standards and not your own.

    Language Barrier

    This is perhaps the commonest and the most inadvertent of barriers to communication. Using big words, too much of technical jargon or even using just the wrong language at the incorrect or inopportune time can lead to a loss or misinterpretation of communication. It may have sounded right in your head and to your ears as well, but if sounded gobbledygook to the others, the purpose is lost.

    The problem: Say you are trying to explain a process to the newbies and end up using every technical word and industry jargon that you knew – your communication has failed if the newbie understood zilch. You have to, without sounding patronizing, explain things to someone in the simplest language they understand instead of the most complex that you do.

    The solution: Simplify things for the other person to understand you, and understand it well. Think about it this way: if you are trying to explain something scientific to a child, you tone it down to their thinking capacity, without “dumbing” anything down in the process.[4]

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    Emotional Barrier

    Sometimes, we hesitate in opening our mouths, for fear of putting our foot in it! Other times, our emotional state is so fragile that we keep it and our lips zipped tightly together lest we explode. This is the time that our emotions become barriers to communication.[5]

    The problem: Say you had a fight at home and are on a slow boil, muttering, in your head, about the injustice of it all. At this time, you have to give someone a dressing down over their work performance. You are likely to transfer at least part of your angst to the conversation then, and talk about unfairness in general, leaving the other person stymied about what you actually meant!

    The solution: Remove your emotions and feelings to a personal space, and talk to the other person as you normally would. Treat any phobias or fears that you have and nip them in the bud so that they don’t become a problem. And remember, no one is perfect.

    Cultural Barrier

    Sometimes, being in an ever-shrinking world means that inadvertently, rules can make cultures clash and cultural clashes can turn into barriers to communication. The idea is to make your point across without hurting anyone’s cultural or religious sentiments.

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    The problem: There are so many ways culture clashes can happen during communication and with cultural clashes; it’s not always about ethnicity. A non-smoker may have problems with smokers taking breaks; an older boss may have issues with younger staff using the Internet too much.

    The solution: Communicate only what is necessary to get the point across – and eave your personal sentiments or feelings out of it. Try to be accommodative of the other’s viewpoint, and in case you still need to work it out, do it one to one, to avoid making a spectacle of the other person’s beliefs.[6]

    Gender Barrier

    Finally, it’s about Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Sometimes, men don’t understand women and women don’t get men – and this gender gap throws barriers in communication. Women tend to take conflict to their graves, literally, while men can move on instantly. Women rely on intuition, men on logic – so inherently, gender becomes a big block in successful communication.[7]

    The problem: A male boss may inadvertently rub his female subordinates the wrong way with anti-feminism innuendoes, or even have problems with women taking too many family leaves. Similarly, women sometimes let their emotions get the better of them, something a male audience can’t relate to.

    The solution: Talk to people like people – don’t think or classify them into genders and then talk accordingly. Don’t make comments or innuendos that are gender biased – you don’t have to come across as an MCP or as a bra-burning feminist either. Keep gender out of it.

    And remember, the key to successful communication is simply being open, making eye contact and smiling intermittently. The battle is usually half won when you say what you mean in simple, straightforward words and keep your emotions out of it.

    Reference

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