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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 May 21, 2019

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    How to Communicate Effectively in Any Relationship

    For all our social media bravado, we live in a society where communication is seen less as an art, and more as a perfunctory exercise. We spend so much time with people, yet we struggle with how to meaningfully communicate.

    If you believe you have mastered effective communication, scan the list below and see whether you can see yourself in any of the examples:

    Example 1

    You are uncomfortable with a person’s actions or comments, and rather than telling the individual immediately, you sidestep the issue and attempt to move on as though the offending behavior or comment never happened.

    You move on with the relationship and develop a pattern of not addressing challenging situations. Before long, the person with whom you are in relationship will say or do something that pushes you over the top and predictably, you explode or withdraw completely from the relationship.

    In this example, hard-to-speak truths become never- expressed truths that turn into resentment and anger.

    Example 2

    You communicate from the head and without emotion. While what you communicate makes perfect sense to you, it comes across as cold because it lacks emotion.

    People do not understand what motivates you to say what you say, and without sharing your feelings and emotions, others experience you as rude, cold or aggressive.

    You will know this is a problem if people shy away from you, ignore your contributions in meetings or tell you your words hurt. You can also know you struggle in this area if you find yourself constantly apologizing for things you have said.

    Example 3

    You have an issue with one person, but you communicate your problem to an entirely different person.

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    The person in whom you confide lacks the authority to resolve the matter troubling you, and while you have vented and expressed frustration, the underlying challenge is unresolved.

    Example 4

    You grew up in a family with destructive communication habits and those habits play out in your current relationships.

    Because you have never stopped to ask why you communicate the way you do and whether your communication style still works, you may lack understanding of how your words impact others and how to implement positive change.

    If you find yourself in any of the situations described above, this article is for you.

    Communication can build or decimate worlds and it is important we get it right. Regardless of your professional aspirations or personal goals, you can improve your communication skills if you:

    • Understand your own communication style
    • Tailor your style depending on the needs of the audience
    • Communicate with precision and care
    • Be mindful of your delivery, timing and messenger

    1. Understand Your Communication Style

    To communicate effectively, you must understand the communication legacy passed down from our parents, grandparents or caregivers. Each of us grew up with spoken and unspoken rules about communication.

    In some families, direct communication is practiced and honored. In other families, family members are encouraged to shy away from difficult conversations. Some families appreciate open and frank dialogue and others do not. Other families practice silence about substantive matters, that is, they seldom or rarely broach difficult conversations at all.

    Before you can appreciate the nuance required in communication, it helps to know the familial patterns you grew up with.

    2. Learn Others Communication Styles

    Communicating effectively requires you to take a step back, assess the intended recipient of your communication and think through how the individual prefers to be communicated with. Once you know this, you can tailor your message in a way that increases the likelihood of being heard. This also prevents you from assuming the way you communicate with one group is appropriate or right for all groups or people.

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    If you are unsure how to determine the styles of the groups or persons with whom you are interacting, you can always ask them:

    “How do you prefer to receive information?”

    This approach requires listening, both to what the individuals say as well as what is unspoken. Virgin Group CEO Richard Branson noted that the best communicators are also great listeners.

    To communicate effectively from relationship to relationship and situation to situation, you must understand the communication needs of others.

    3. Exercise Precision and Care

    A recent engagement underscored for me the importance of exercising care when communicating.

    On a recent trip to Ohio, I decided to meet up with an old friend to go for a walk. As we strolled through the soccer park, my friend gently announced that he had something to talk about, he was upset with me. His introduction to the problem allowed me to mentally shift gears and prepare for the conversation.

    Shortly after introducing the shift in conversation, my friend asked me why I didn’t invite him to the launch party for my business. He lives in Ohio and I live in the D.C. area.

    I explained that the event snuck up on me, and I only started planning the invite list three weeks before the event. Due to the last-minute nature of the gathering, I opted to invite people in the DMV area versus my friends from outside the area – I didn’t want to be disrespectful by asking them to travel on such short notice.

    I also noted that I didn’t want to be disappointed if he and others declined to come to the event. So I played it safe in terms of inviting people who were local.

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    In the moment, I felt the conversation went very well. I also checked in with my friend a few days after our walk, affirmed my appreciation for his willingness to communicate his upset and our ability to work through it.

    The way this conversation unfolded exemplified effective communication. My friend approached me with grace and vulnerability. He approached me with a level of curiosity that didn’t put me on my heels — I was able to really listen to what he was saying, apologize for how my decision impacted him and vow that going forward, I would always ask rather than making decisions for him and others.

    Our relationship is intact, and I now have information that will help me become a better friend to him and others.

    4. Be Mindful of Delivery, Timing and Messenger

    Communicating effectively also requires thinking through the delivery of the message one intends to communicate as well as the appropriate time for the discussion.

    In an Entrepreneur.com column, VIP Contributor Deep Patel, noted that persons interested in communicating well need to master the art of timing. Patel noted,[1]

    “Great comedians, like all great communicators, are able to feel out their audience to determine when to move on to a new topic or when to reiterate an idea.”

    Communicating effectively also requires thoughtfulness about the messenger. A person prone to dramatic, angry outbursts should never be called upon to deliver constructive feedback, especially to people whom they do not know. The immediate aftermath of a mass shooting is not the ideal time to talk about the importance of the Second Amendment rights.

    Like everyone else, I must work to ensure my communication is layered with precision and care.

    It requires precision because words must be carefully tailored to the person with whom you are speaking.

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    It requires intentionality because before one communicates, one should think about the audience and what the audience needs in order to hear your message the way you intended it to be communicated.

    It requires active listening which is about hearing verbal and nonverbal messages.

    Even though we may be right in what we say, how we say it could derail the impact of the message and the other parties’ ability to hear the message.

    Communicating with care is also about saying things that the people in our life need to hear and doing so with love.

    The Bottom Line

    When I left the meeting with my dear friend, I wondered if I was replicating or modeling this level of openness and transparency in the rest of my relationships.

    I was intrigued and appreciative. He’d clearly thought about what he wanted to say to me, picked the appropriate time to share his feedback and then delivered it with care. He hit the ball out of the park and I’m hopeful we all do the same.

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    Featured photo credit: Kenan Buhic via unsplash.com

    Reference

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