In the past month I’ve sat through three presentations by professional speakers. They were all planned by mindmapping.
None of these presentations reached their potential. Here are the flaws the presentations suffered from:
- They had no unifying theme. They jumped around from one subtopic to another.
- They covered a lot of issues. So many different issues, that I can’t remember any of them!
- They covered no single issue in depth. They never got to anything interesting.
They were typical overview presentations. They went wide rather than deep and didn’t offer any value.
The mistake these speakers made was to use mindmapping alone as their presentation planning tool.
So when should you use mindmapping to plan a presentation?
1. Everyday to mid-level presentations on a topic that you know well
In this situation, mindmapping is a time-consuming and unecessary step. It’s an inherently inefficient process because you’re spending time generating points that you’re not going to use. Instead of mindmapping, use these questions to plan your presentation:
- What’s the one thing I want my audience to remember or do?
- Once I’ve told them that, what are the three top questions they will have for me?
- How can I back up each of my answers to those questions.
This is the essence of the process that I outline in my free Guide “How to Make an Effective PowerPoint Presentation.”
2. High-stakes pitch or high-profile conference presentation on a topic you’re not so familiar with
This is where mindmapping has its place. Mindmapping can be a useful first step to gather your ideas and ensure that you don’t miss a critical point. However, do not stop planning once you’ve completed your mindmap. If you do, you’ll end up with a lightweight overview presentation that doesn’t add any value to your audience. Take these additional steps:
- Craft a key message for your presentation that expresses the main point you want to get across. Then ensure that every point you make supports that key message. Any point that doesn’t should be thrown out.
- Edit your points further. If you’ve mindmapped six benefits for your solution, choose the three strongest benefits and delete the rest (or put them in a handout). Those three remaining benefits will have more impact than if you skimmed lightly over six benefits.
- Ensure each point you make is supported by evidence: examples, statistics, endorsements or metaphors.
- Arrange your points to create a logical path for your audience to follow.
There’s a lot more to planning a presentation than mindmapping.