What is a Mind Map?
A mind map is a diagram that is ideal for brainstorming, planning, information gathering, data presentation, and many other uses.
What makes a mind map so effective is that it allows us to use both sides of our brains at once. The left side of the brain controls logic, analytics, and details. It is very structured and organized. The right side is creative, imaginative, and likes to think freely. In business when someone says "think outside the box," what they really mean is to move away from the left side of your brain for a while and allow your brain's right side to daydream, explore, and think about the "bigger picture."
This is when a mind map can be an invaluable tool. Rather than using a lined note pad and making lists, a mind map allows more creative thought processes to surface.
But it doesn't do this at the expense of the logical left half of the brain. A mind map also allows thoughts and ideas—no matter how imaginative they might be—to be organized in a thoughtful and logical way.
A mind map encourages a "mind meld" of the entire brain.
Mind Mapping Techniques
Mind maps have an almost limitless number of uses. They are a powerful tool because they allow you to think visually, using pictures to solve problems, plan strategies, and to communicate ideas clearly.
The diagram below shows ten uses for mind maps.
Why Mind Maps Are Effective
Mind maps are extremely effective for taking notes, planning a project, brainstorming an idea, presenting information to others, and many other uses. Why is this? Here are a few reasons:
- They improve our capacity to see the bigger picture
- They help us save time by focusing on key issues
- They improve our ability to retain and recall information through patterns and associations
- They help to clarify thinking
- They provide concise, visual information maps that are well-suited for presentations and reports
How to Make a Mind Map
Many diagrams such as flow charts, org charts, and network diagrams follow a fairly rigid set of standards.
Mind maps are an exception to this. It's really up to the user to create a mind map that suits their mind's eye.
The most basic way to create a mind map is with a pen and paper or a whiteboard.
While this is a cheap way to create a mind map, it also has drawbacks, particularly for business people.
If you want to make changes, it can get messy in a hurry. It's impractical to easily share and collaborate with others. And it's not suitable for publishing in a report or using in a presentation.
High-quality mind mapping software such as SmartDraw solves these problems. In the same amount of time or less, you can capture the same information and create a mind map. This is a polished result that is easy to edit, share, and publish.
This informational video offers a brief overview of how to start mind mapping with SmartDraw. Starting with a mind map template, this video takes you through the basics of creating a SmartDraw mind map. In just a few minutes, you can learn how to create professional mind maps to brainstorm and present ideas, run meetings, and more.
Mind Map Examples
The best way to understand mind mapping is to look at some examples of mind maps.
Browse SmartDraw's entire collection of mind map examples and templates