Mind Mapping FAQ
Frequently asked questions
A mind map consists of a central word or concept, around the central
word you draw the 5 to 10 main ideas that relate to that word.
You then take each of those child words and again draw the 5 to
10 main ideas that relate to each of those words.
- What is a mind map?
- What can you do with a mind map
- What you can do with a computer mind map
- How was it invented
In this way a large number of related ideas can quickly be produced with virtually
no mental effort. The concept of 'writers block' is hard to understand once
you have grasped the use of this simple technique!
What can you do with a mind map
As a means of note taking Mind Maps have several advantages over other systems:
- You can place each new idea in the right place, regardless
of the order of presentation.
- It encourages the reduction of each concept to a single word.
- The resultant mind map can be 'seen' by the eye and memorized
by your visual memory which has been shown to be almost perfect.
Creative Writing & Report Writing
A mind map lets you rapidly produce an almost infinite number
of ideas, and at the same time organize them by placing each idea
next to what it is related to. This makes a very powerful tool
for creative writing or report writing, where it is very important
to get down all your ideas first. It is then a trivial matter
to read the mind map and write a sentence or paragraph on each
Studying the easy way
Instead of simply reading a book on some topic, next time try using a mind map
while you read. Just draw your central word and then begin reading, every time
you read some idea that strikes you as important or interesting, just add it onto
your mind map in the appropriate place.
When you have finished reading the book you will have a one page Mind Map
which summarizes everything of interest in that book. You will probably also
have added several things which you thought up yourself during your reading.
The act of creating the mind map will have greatly increased how much you absorbed
from the book, and if you ever want to review the topic all you need to do
is to look at the mind map. If you want to learn the information very solidly
then try to redraw the Mind Map from memory a few times. You will find it very
Studying as a group (or family)
A group of people can work together to produce a single mind map
by following these steps:
- Individually draw mind maps on what you already know about
- Draw a group mind map combining what you already know.
- Decide what you need to learn based on this group Mind Map
- Individually study the material, all covering the same areas
for depth of knowledge or all covering different areas for speed
as appropriate. Each person completing the mind map by his/her
- Again combine as a group and create a final master group mind
Families who have started regular weekend study days as a hobby have benefited
tremendously. Children typically go from average or below average to second
or third from the top in all subjects and the parents also find themselves
excelling at work. One Swedish family was besieged by neighborhood children
asking if they could join in the fun!
Meetings & Think Tanks
As soon as you write something up on a white board you have immediately
lost the creativity which everyone has. So any creative meeting
should always start by people spending a couple of minutes individually
mind mapping. Then as a way of running a meeting a master mind
map on a white board allows every idea or statement to be recorded
and placed in an appropriate place so that it can then be discussed
at a sensible time. Also no one feels ignored as all ideas are
placed on the mind map.
Giving a Talk
When giving a talk a set of notes in the form of a single mind
map has several advantages over other memory aids:
- Brief: Only a single page is needed
- Not reading: As ideas are reduced to single words you will not be 'reading'
- Flexibility: If someone asks a question you can move instantly to
the place on your Mind Map which relates to that question and then return
to where you were without loosing yourself in a pile of cards or papers.
What can you do with a computer
Computer Mind Maps offer several major advances over the original
paper mind map. These advantages should combine to make Mind Mapping
as popular as it should be:
You can easily restructure your mind map, moving words and trees of words
around in seconds. This makes the computer mind map even better for quickly
creating new ideas and ordering ideas into a meaningful structure.
Using the style system you can instantly highlight different features
of a complex mind map. E.g. you might make all the 'expensive'
options suddenly appear in bright red or all the 'good' ideas
appear in bold underlined type.
Being brief and using single words is the key to a good mind map,
but sometimes you need to write sentences of explanation for yourself
or others. The computer mind map allows you to do this but to
keep the extra information hidden until it is needed. This can
also be used for learning information, you should be able to recite
the 'comment' information without looking at it, when you can
do this you have 'learned' the contents of the mind map and only
need the key words to bring it back.
In this day and age it is not really acceptable to present your
manager with a crayon drawing of your plans. A computer generated
mind map gets past this problem by having the same high quality
appearance as any other document.
With a computer mind map you can instantly export the Mind Map to a plain text
file, Microsoft Word or Rich Text Format, a web page, or Powerpoint presentation
How was it invented
Mind Mapping was invented by Tony Buzan following his research
into note taking techniques.
Tony Buzan studied the three common techniques for taking notes
during a lecture:
- Writing a complete transcript.
- Writing a summary.
- Writing key words only.
He then tested each of these and found the following results when
testing how much was learned or remembered:
Least learned = 1
- Complete transcript given to student
- Student writes complete transcript
- Summary given to student
- Student writes summary
- Key words given to student
- Student writes own key words
Most learned = 6
Another seemingly unrelated study on memory was also used in
the formation of mind maps. In this study by Ralph Haber 2560
photos were shown to subjects. Then subjects were shown 2560 pairs
of photos and asked in each case to say which photo had been in
the original group of 2560 and which had not. The success rate
at this test averaged between 85% and 95% showing that humans
have an almost photographic visual memory. In another study where
10,000 vivid pictures were used a success rate of 99% was recorded.
If two people all draw mini mind maps around the idea 'shoe'.
(A mini mind map is a mind map which only goes one level deep,
i.e. it only has words which are directly related to the central
idea). If each person comes up with seven related words, how many
do you think would be duplicates between the two people? Studies
have shown that the average is one word in common, and anything
above two is very very unusual.
Try this yourself, get a friend to write down the first seven
things related to the word "shoe", and do the same yourself,
then compare the lists.
Result, Mind Maps
With these results and other research Tony Buzan came up with a new method
for taking notes. His new system was based on the idea of making the notes
as brief as possible and also as interesting to the eye as possible. The surprising
result was that mind maps can be used in many different ways other than just
simple note taking.
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