19 May 2008

Use Mind Maps and Graphs as Illustrations Only

Mind maps and graphs are overused these days. Most who create and use them to illustrate their point to others usually act as though they are the be-all-beat-all answer to hitting the nail on the head.

The problem is that those who insist on mind maps think that the entire world thinks visually like they do.

In the world of education, teachers and tutors are taught that there are two types of learners: textual and visual. Some people learn better via words, while others learn better via images.

Talk to a visual learner, and they will insist that mind maps are the best way to illustrate their point. Here's the problem with most graphs and maps: They require explanation!

Give most people concise and effective text, and they can move from one explanation to the next on their own. Give most people a graph, especially the busy ones that the visual teacher prefers, and their audience spends most of their time trying to figure out what it means.

Mind maps and graphs are excellent ways to illustrate your text, but seldom is the time that they are effective on their own.

1 comment:

Vic-vic said...

I think the problem arises when people who use mind maps think they are a presentation tool. IMO mind maps are more a process than a finished product. The value is in thinking about the central topic in order to build the map.

Several people can work together to build a mind map - that works, I've done it often in businesses - provided all involved are happy to use mind mapping. Seems most unlikely it would work (or even be relevant) for writing though, other than for business reports.

Using a finished mind map to present a topic can fall down badly, especially if the audience isn't sympathetic to the idea. Mind maps are too personal and reflect their author's way of thinking. I guess that's why they often need too much explanation.

Vic Gee
http://www.mind-mapping.org/
The master list of mind mapping &
information management software