ne of the greatest challenges when making a presentation is to prepare for it.
Most of us sit down, pick up a sheet of paper, and our minds go blank.
We don't know where to start.
Or we may have so many ideas that we don't know how to organise them.
Or we don't have enough information to choose a format or decide on the points to be covered.
And this is why I recommend the book Use Both Sides Of Your Brain, by Tony Buzan. It helps put presentations on the right track.
A significant part of the book outlines a technique which Tony calls Mind Mapping.
This reduces the time it takes to develop a presentation, a report, an article, or a letter by approximately 50 percent.
Mind Mapping also allows you to use words to visually relate concepts and information in ways that are more enlightening than note taking or outlining.
It helps in deciding how you want to present the information.
It also enables you to focus on the content and the sequence of the content.
A mind map helps you see not only what is there, but also what is missing.
Here are the fundamental aspects of Mind Mapping:
1. Start with your central thought.
Write the premise in the middle of a blank sheet of paper.
Then list the first idea that comes into your mind.
Next, note down any related points.
As you exhaust ideas on a topic, move to the next idea. Note down related points.
Repeat this process until you have exhausted all the ideas and related points you want to cover.
2. Be free-flowing.
One of the models I use for the mind looks like a pinball machine.
It can bounce around very quickly to numerous ideas before it comes up with a logical conclusion.
We have all had this experience at some point or the other: someone says something to you.
You pause for a minute and then reply. Your listener asks where in the world your response came from.
You reply, "You said this, which reminded me of that, and that made me think of that, and that's why I said that to you."
For you, the thought progression was very logical, but anyone else looking at it may not see how you got your reply from the original statement.
The Mind Mapping technique accommodates this type of bouncing around better than either note-taking or outlining.
3. Use only key words.
Often when taking notes and creating an outline, we use too many words.
Most people think faster than they write.
(The human mind can think 1,200 to 1,600 words a minute. On an average, most people only write freehand 25 to 35 words a minute. The best of us can type a little more than 100 words a minute.)
The key concept is to think in bullets and jot down one or two words that capture the concept. This way, you won't slow down your thinking.
4. Allow yourself to bounce around.
You might be on your third or fourth key idea and, suddenly, you think of something that fits back with idea number one.
Stop. Bounce back up, add the idea, and continue. That's okay.
5. Feel free to connect things that relate.
When two topics relate to one another, simply draw an arrow to connect them.
Draw the arrow with the same colour as the rest of the mind map or with another colour to clearly highlight the intended connection.
6. Try short bursts.
Time yourself for five minutes.
Then take a break. Sit back. Look at your mind map.
Do something else.
Then, spend another five minutes adding, modifying and adjusting.
Remember, Mind Mapping is your tool. Let it work for you.
Many people, when exposed to Mind Mapping, say, "I could never show this to my boss."
A mind map is not necessarily for others. It is primarily for yourself.
Use the mind map, not as a report, but to dictate or type the report.
Use it to make sure that all the elements you want in the report are there before you start.
Suresh Bharwani is the chairman and managing director of Jetking Infotrain Ltd, a hardware and networking institute. He has developed his own executive skills programme, Smartrain, which includes the latest training concepts and aims to propel growth, and concentrate on finding the complete manager within oneself.
Image: Uday Kuckian