Mind Mapping: 5 Hands-on Tips for the Popular Visualization Technique

Annalena Simonis, Thursday 23 September 2021 | Reading time: 5 min.

Mindmapping is one of the most popular methods for creativity and innovation. We've collected five tips for you to raise your mind maps to the next level. Read more in this article. 

Mind mapping is a well-known allround method for decision-making, creativity and structuring processes. The technique was invented in the 1970s by the british author Tony Buzan, with the aim to achieve an accelerated information processing and storage through this brain-friendly visualization. To this day, mind mapping is considered a popular visualization method in various fields. The variety of possible areas of is unlimited and you need almost no tools for the implementation. A mind map can be created by a single person or a group, as well as analog on paper or digitally with the help of an appropriate program. However, in order to benefit from its advantages and not just to put confusing thought constructs on paper, we present 5 important tips for a better mind map in this article


When is a mind map useful?

Most people probably associate mind maps with the classic brainstorming method to capture all ideas and to boost creativity. But this is only one of the many possible use cases. Another possibility is to work with the method for logging or documenting. Using this technique during a workshop or meeting, for example, can replace the classic bullet points in your notes, making it a more creative and accessible way to capture what you've learned. In project management, the mind map is often applied for the first step in designing work breakdown structures. This way, all work processes and tasks can be subdivided before starting and first tasks can be derived. In addition, the method also proves helpful for visualization in risk analyses, stakeholder analyses, communication plans or knowledge management. In addition, you can draw a mind map to illustrate entire organizational structures or information networks. The method helps you to recognize new connections and to structure complex facts.


5 tips for better mind maps

To keep your mind map clear and uncomplicated, you should follow a few rules in its design and structuring. With these five tips, you will be doing your brain a favor, because it can process information better if it is presented in a graphically appealing way.

Tip 1: Use pictures and symbols

Pictures say more than 1000 words. Therefore, expand your mind map with drawings, symbols or graphics to make connections more quickly recognizable, to graphically underline important keywords and to be able to remember individual facts better. Symbols can be used to mark individual categories or sub-groups and make them easier to distinguish. 

Tip 2: Different colors and fonts

Be brave with color! Use certain color codes, for example, to highlight individual subject areas or the most important contexts. In the classic way, you can also mark each supergroup and the outgoing branches in one color each, in order to be able to recognize different streams of thought at first glance. If you are working with a software, different fonts can also help to differentiate. For central terms you can choose a larger font and for smaller details perhaps italics.

Tip 3: Design and structure

When it comes to the structure of the mind map, there is a simple basic rule: go from general to specific and from inside to outside. Divide the subcategories according to their value. The first branch describes the generic term, the next a smaller category or an explanation, and the smallest branch contains an example. Possibly numbering the top categories can help if the order seems important.

Tip 4: Word choice

If you are working on paper or a flipchart, make sure you write legibly and in block letters. Generally speaking, the fewer the better. Whole sentences have no place in a mind map. If a keyword needs more explanation, you can simply add another branch. If you find connections between branches of different categories, you can use arrows to connect these topics. Always make sure that you work as clearly as possible so that an independent person could follow your thoughts.

Tip 5: Let your creativity flow

If you are sitting in front of a blank sheet of paper and don't know where to start, don't worry. This is exactly the strength of this method. Write down all the thoughts that come to your mind about the topic you are working on. Don't let yourself be limited by predefined outlines or hierarchies. Start writing, drawing lines and symbols. Do not judge what comes to paper at the first moment, but let your mind be open. Nothing prevents you from creating a second or third visualization, in which you can rearrange your first thoughts.  Every idea is a good idea!


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