I have been mind mapping since 2010 and I have been using MindMeister since 2011. I have read many books on learning techniques and confirmed the evidence that taking notes, organizing thoughts and rephrasing facts in your own terms leads to better retention and comprehension. I found myself struggling doing this effectively with traditional notes, written papers, top down writing or special bullet points. I found myself shoving notes in margins, arrows across the page, random white space just in case… It was just a mess that was unusable. I would have to takes notes of my notes in order to reuse or share them. I was absolutely fascinated when I discovered the mind mapping movements and how this simple concept solved the majority of my problems.
Want to discuss mind mapping in general or have questions on how to use MindMeister? Contact me!
Beginning my Mind Mapping Journey
I started mind mapping for everything: Notes in a meeting – mind map. Watch a presentation at a conference – mind map (Personal Example). Reading a book – mind map (Personal Example). I found so much value in them I never really looked back after starting. Let me tell you though, observers start off skeptical. You will hear some jokes about your “child drawings”, but you will soon find your co-workers and bosses asking if you could send the mind map out to the team instead of their inferior notes. It’s really quite interesting how resistance turns to desire in a matter of weeks. You also start to meet new people. People that mind map love others that mind map. I have been approached so many times by others who mind map or more so who really want to mind map but they forget or can’t find the right tool.
For the first couple years I made tens of paper mind maps, probably hundreds of temporary white board mind maps, and then tens of digital mind maps with lots of different tools. There are some cool tools developed as full applications for Windows or Mac that I tried, but I felt limited by the inability to open them anywhere, or make new ones away from my primary computer(s). Being a web developer myself I had also been transitioning my digital life to the ‘cloud’. I live within Google docs, sheets, facebook, plus, confluence, jira, github and all the other web apps we use day to day. Thus started my search for the most effective mind mapping tool on the web. I have tried many tools over the years and I have been sent many tools by friends and enthusiasts. I really support all of them that help anyone use mind mapping more conveniently in their life. I have been paying for MindMeister since 2011 because it has offered features that I love and believe in and they haven’t let me down since.
Why I love MindMeister
- Online, Always Saving, Always Available – this is just me loving the cloud.
- History – Every change is historically saved so you can see the creation of your map over time. And more importantly, grab anything you misplaced, or just discover who’s made what changes.
- Collaboration – You can have other’s collaborate with you, live, making changes in front of you, chatting with you. It’s google docs for mind mapping and it’s amazing.
- Presentations – This is what people remember the most. I have given many technical presentations and using MindMeister always impresses even the most technical people. More on presentations below.
- Sync to Google Drive – I always feel nervous when so much important information is in one spot and I hate making manual backups. MindMeister allows you to sync to google drive so all maps are automatically being backed up to an external system. This is a comfort I love and only benefits me, thanks MindMeister!
- So Much More! This tool is really great and there are a ton more features that you can learn about from their site: mindmeister.com/features.
- See all of my public mind maps here: mindmeister.com/users/channel/nicholastuck
Say No to PowerPoint
I don’t like PowerPoint/Slide Shows. Not as a tool, but as a concept. PowerPoint is a presentation of information in a contextless, multipage, random grouping of stuff. It’s extremely difficult to use the information within a PowerPoint at a later date. When I attend a presentation I take notes, in mind map form =), even when they announce the slides are online. Why? Because I can’t find what I want in a slideshow later. I have to go through 45 slides to find any information again after the fact. It’s usually a waste of time. Also slides are often a presentation tool only, not really meant to be consumed later. So the order may not be logical without the presenter’s context and they don’t have links or other useful info because those can’t be used from an audience in a crowd watching a slideshow.
Presenting in MindMeister
MindMeister announced presentations a couple years ago and I have done the majority of my presentations within the tool since. The worst part about using MindMeister to present is EVERY presentation I give, there is always someone that comes up to me and asks “What is that tool you are using to present?” =) I guess I need to work on my content.
Instead of describing how this works, take a minute to click through some of my presentations so you can see what they are like:
- Effective Pair Programming
- Your Code is Not a Version
- Why Nick Heart’s #dartlang
- Agile for Defense Meetup
Benefits to using MindMeister
No longer is a table of contents my only context for the audience. They can see what material I plan on covering. They can see the progress we are making both overall and within a particular subject. They know when we have moved on and they should ask their questions before it’s too late and they know when I have more and to hold questions for a little longer.
Useful Future Resource
This is a mind map. You don’t have to consume it as a presentation. Over the past couple years there have been tens of people that have told me they have reused my presentation mind maps during meetings, discussions and arguments to reference specific information, points or links to books and articles that I have throughout the presentation. I love to hear these get reused. This is more exciting to me than presenting to a large group.
Online and Collaborative
Please don’t email me, or anyone, slides ever again! I hate filling up inboxes, having to keep track of files separately, never knowing if I have the latest or if someone is updating it at the same time. With these modern tools I can collaborate with others, get feedback, allow them to make changes and always know it’s up to date without having to think about it!
People approach me about the tool all the time. I have had organizations want to switch off of PowerPoint entirely and use this tool. It’s a really old way to present data in a really technologically new way. That to me is fun, in a really geeky way.
I highly recommend you try mind mapping for the next book you read, just one book. I can promise you will use those notes more than you have ever used any notes before. Feel free to do it anyway you want, paper mind maps are the easiest to get started with, but eventually cloud ones are the easiest to maintain, share and collaborate on. Feel free to try any tool you want or give MindMeister a try here. Currently you get a few maps free to try so you can find out if it’s worth it to you!