Mind Mapping Works for Presentations

When it comes to putting together a great presentation, sometimes the hardest part is figuring out how you’re going to share all of the information you want your audience to have, and in what order you’re going to deliver it.

Presentation planning is a key component of delivering a solid presentation; a carefully thought-out presentation is easy for the speaker to navigate and simpler for the audience to follow. We of course share tips and strategies on presentation planning at our Presentation Skills Training workshops, and one of the very best ways to organize a presentation and its delivery is through mind mapping.

What is Mind Mapping?

Mind mapping has been around for more 40 years as a visual way of connecting information around a central subject. It was developed by UK researcher Tony Buzan in his book “Use Your Head” to help people focus their attention; mind mapping is used in note taking, brainstorming, problem solving and project planning.

By using a mind map, you can get your ideas out of your brain and literally map them out. A central idea begins in the middle and radiates outwards using lines, symbols, words, color and images. It’s these different elements that makes the information more memorable and allows you to make connections based on how your brain naturally processes things.

Think of a mind map like a map of your neighborhood. You draw your house in the center of the page and then you draw the roads and paths leading away to your neighbors’ houses and the park and stores nearby. Then you draw the roads the paths leading away from those places. Before long you will start to see connections in your neighborhood that you never noticed before. And you’ll remember things more vividly because you’ve drawn landmarks in a different color or assigned a special symbol to a certain location.

Mind maps work much the same way: You write the main idea in the center and from there you branch out to secondary thoughts relating to the main idea, and then branch off from those secondary thoughts.

Mind Mapping Techniques

Mind mapping is a valuable presentation tool because it allows you to plan your presentation both creatively and logically (mind mapping engages both the creative and logical sides of your brain). Putting together a really good presentation is no easy task: You don’t want to forget something important, and you also don’t want to overwhelm your audience with information. Through mind mapping, you can see how ideas can be linked together to make your presentation flow more naturally and with less repetition.

When you begin your mind map, remember your end goal is to break down large volumes of information into manageable pieces. Start by writing down your main idea in the centre of the page. Everything else you write on this page should somehow relate back to this first idea. From there, draw branches (lines) and at the end of each write a secondary idea of your main idea. You can draw as many branches as you’d like, as long as the secondary ideas you write at the end of them relate back to the word or idea in the centre of the page.

Next, draw branches or lines from each of your secondary ideas and break those secondary ideas down even further. As you do this exercise, use images, doodles, colors, symbols, numbers, and whatever else you want to highlight different parts of your map. You will most likely see at this stage there are connections that can be made from one branch to another. This is how you will build your presentation and put it in an order that makes sense.

If Mind Mapping Software Helps, Use It

There isn’t a right or wrong way to create a mind map, as long as you stick to the basic principles of how to create one (a central thought in the middle, and secondary thoughts radiating out from it). Some people enjoy creating mind maps the old fashioned way with a pen and paper (you can even find many mind mapping templates online), while others prefer to enlist the help of mind mapping software. However you approach mind mapping is up to you.

Have you ever used mind mapping to prepare a presentation? Tell us about it in the Comments section. Don’t forget to follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ where we are always posting great tips and advice to improve your presentation skills.


  1. Johnny G. says:

    I’ve heard of mind mapping before but never had it explained in such simplistic terms. Great info. Thanks!

  2. I’ve been reading a lot about mind mapping lately, but never looked at it as a useful public speaking tool. Thanks for the great advice!

  3. To have it flow naturally and not be disjointed. That is the key. This can help for sure.

  4. We used to use this when I was in college and we got away from it. I think I’ll put back in my bag of tricks

  5. I use some of these and I think if I could get my cooleuges to try them out, we’d all be better prepared!

  6. Jim Crawell says:

    I went through one of your presentation workshops several years ago. I still remember an exercise we went through that was like this. Very valuable

  7. Oh fun — I didn’t know this technique was called mind mapping. I’ve definitely used it when writing papers, etc. It’s a pretty awesome organizational method.

  8. Alyssa Simpson says:

    Its a great way to come up with ideas for my presentations i deliver.  I sometimes do it with my team to get different ideas.

  9. Wendy Wilson says:

    Neat spin on brainstorming. Love it!

  10. Sam Anson says:

    Very interesting. May try this for my next presentation.

  11. L. Lincoln says:

    Really interesting. Thanks for this.

  12. Great post. Mind mapping always was a great technique in the high-school and college. Its very important for a successful presentation, and your post is very helpful.

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