Over the last several years I’ve gradually been replacing PowerPoint with MindManager as my presentation tool of choice. Most audiences seem to like it. Nick Duffill of Gyronix offers some excellent advice on how to make more effective use of mindmaps in presentations. Here are Nick’s key points, although all of his advice (and his blog, Beyond Crayons) is worthy of your attention:
- Use the structure of the map to address different levels of audience, so that you don’t have to reveal more than they really need. Software mind mapping tools will let you show or hide different levels of topics. Provided you use statements instead of headings, this lets you “layer” your presentation very effectively. Think about the map as a set of donut-shaped rings. The ring nearest the centre of the map is for your executive audience, who have short attention spans and grasp big ideas quickly. The next ring is for management, who are going to need a better understanding of the implications in order to deliver it. The outer ring is for the people who actually do the work, who will need real details. The true benefits of the tree structure become evident here, because you can position detail in the context of bigger ideas.
- When presenting, start at the one o’clock main topic and walk through your map in a spiral, addressing the executive level first, then the management level, then the detail if it is appropriate. This takes you on a complete tour of your map in at least three passes, which helps your audience feel comfortable from the outset about the scope of your presentation, and critically, the way it is represented by your map. This might disappoint the few who enjoy suspense and surprises, so it is up to you as a presenter to make it entertaining and engaging in other ways, instead of by playing with the content. That’s like playing with food, and you can remember being yelled at for that. If your audience is still with you when you complete your tour through the management level, then they are ready for the detail. If you have already lost their good will, or are running out of time, then more detail would not have helped and could even have set you back.
This template gives you some ideas on structuring the content, and the kinds of information that you might include at the different levels. The numbers on the topics represent the presentation order.
So when using software mind maps to prepare and deliver presentations, use statements, translate different audience levels to layers, and develop a spiral route through your map to keep your audience on track. And don’t forget the donuts.