Transforming a mind map to a speech article etc

Many people, when first shown mind maps, assume that they cannot be used for any linear purpose, such as giving a talk or writing an article. Nothing could be further from the truth. If you refer to the mind map of this chapter on page 100, you will find how such a transformation took place:

Once the map has been completed, the required information is readily available. All that is necessary is to decide the final order in which to present the information. A good mind map will offer a number of possibilities. When the choice is being made, each area of the map can be encircled with a different colour, and numbered in the correct order. Putting this into written or verbal form is simply a matter of outlining the major areas to be covered, and then going through them point by point, following the logic of the branched connections. In this way the problem of redrafting and redrafting yet again is eliminated - all the gathering and organising will have been completed at the map stage.

Using these techniques at Oxford University, students were able to complete essays in one third of the previous time while receiving higher marks.

Note taking

It is advisable, when taking notes, to have two blank pages ongoing at the same time. The left-hand page should be for mapped information and the right-hand page for more linear or graphic information such as formulas, special lists, and graphs etc. See fig42.

When taking notes, especially from lectures, it is important to remember that key words and images are essentially all that is

When taking notes, especially from lectures, it is important to remember that key words and images are essentially all that is

Fig42 Recommended general form for note taking. Two pages should be used concurrently, one for mind maps, the other for graphic or more linear information. These example notes on body, mind and spirit may originally 'lookmessy' butthey are in factneaterthan traditionally 'neat' notes. Seetext pages112and114.

Fig42 Recommended general form for note taking. Two pages should be used concurrently, one for mind maps, the other for graphic or more linear information. These example notes on body, mind and spirit may originally 'lookmessy' butthey are in factneaterthan traditionally 'neat' notes. Seetext pages112and114.

needed. It is also important to remember that the final structure will not become apparent till the end. Any notes made will therefore probably be semi-final rather than final copy. The first few words noted may be fairly disconnected until the theme of the lecture becomes apparent. It is necessary to understand clearly the value of so-called 'messy' as opposed to 'neat' notes, for many people feel apprehension at having a scrawly, arrowed, non-linear page of notes developing in front of them. 'Neat' notes are traditionally those which are organised in an orderly and linear manner. See fig 33 in the previous chapter. 'Messy' notes are those which are 'untidy' and 'all over the page'. See fig 42. The word 'messy' used in this way refers to the look and not to the content.

In note taking it is primarily the content and not the look that is of importance. The notes which look 'neat' are, in informational terms, messy. As explained on pages 93 and 95, the key information is disguised, disconnected, and cluttered with many informationally irrelevant words. The notes which look 'messy' are informationally far neater. They show immediately the important concepts, the connections, and even in some cases the crossings-out and the objections.

Mapped notes in their final form are usually neat in any case and it seldom takes more than ten minutes to finalise an hour's notes on a fresh sheet of paper. This final map reconstructing is by no means a waste of time, and if the learning period has been organised properly will fit in perfectly as the first review. See pages 58 to 60.

Communications and meetings

Meetings, notably those for planning or problem solving, often degenerate into situations where each person listens to the others only in order to make his own point as soon as the previous speaker has finished. In such meetings many excellent points are passed over or forgotten, and much time is wasted. A further aggravation is that points which are finally accepted are not necessarily the best, but are those made by the most vociferous or most important speakers.

These problems can be eliminated if the person who organises the meeting uses a mind map structure. On a board at the front of the room the central theme of the discussion, together with a couple of the sub themes, should be presented in basic map form. The members of the meeting will have pre-knowledge of what it is about, and will hopefully have come prepared. As each member finishes the point he is making, he can be asked to summarise it in key form, and to indicate where on the overall mind map he thinks his point should be entered.

The following are the advantages of this approach:

1 The contribution of each person is registered and recorded properly.

2 No information is lost.

3 The importance given to ideas will pertain more to what was said than to who said it.

4 Digressions and long wafflings will be eliminated because people will be talking more to the point.

5 After the meeting each individual will have a mapped record and will therefore not have lost most of what is said by the following morning.

One further advantage of mind maps, especially in note taking and communications, is that the individual is kept continually and actively involved in the complete structure of what is going on, rather than being concerned solely with 'getting down' the last point made. This more complete involvement will lead to a much greater critical and analytical facility, a much greater integration, a much greater ability to recall and a much greater overall understanding.

Personal Notes

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