The Need to Practice
At the start, mind mapping requires practice. But those who master the art of mind mapping eventually find that more information is absorbed and recalled in proportion to the effort required to do the mind mapping.
Buzan advocates that people trying out mind mapping should do up to 100 mind maps before they can become comfortable with the tool – whether it is applied for note-taking, planning, organizing, or simply jotting down one’s thoughts and feelings. One persistent user of hand-drawn mind maps believes that it is advantageous for mind mappers to create at least one mind map every month regularly. He feels that mind mappers will eventually want to use larger and larger pieces of paper as the relationships between their ideas expand.
The Importance of Colors
When you communicate, only 7% of the meaning is conveyed to the brain through words. Your mind relies more on visual cues. So, visual elements like shape and color enhance the process of communication. Color definitely has an impact on mood and behavior.
Usually, line-by-line note-taking only relies on two colors – black (the color of your pen) and white (the color of your paper.) The use of these two colors in combination has a hypnotic effect on the viewer – which may explain why so many people fall asleep reading or are lulled into a trance-like state in a classroom. The writer Ronald E. Green, in “The Persuasive Properties of Color” revealed that colorful visual aids make readers more eager to read and willing to participate by an amazing 80%. Companies that stress color as a key feature in their products really know something then – not only can they sell their products better but color really works at imparting knowledge better. Jan V. White of “Color for Impact” noted that presentations which incorporate color are actually 60% more simple to view. In addition, White said such presentations cut down on search time by 80%, boost attention span by 82%, and enhance comprehension by 70%. White further stressed that color in presentations improves recall by 60% and brand recognition by 70%.
If you have ever looked at the weather map in the newspaper or displayed on the evening news on TV, you will notice that it is colored in different parts to show the differences in the weather in various parts of the country. It is definitely easier to look at and understand than a black and white map, isn’t it? This is an application of the same principle in mind mapping: color is the lifeblood of visual aids.
When you make a presentation, such as a mind map, your audience will form a lasting impression within the first 90 seconds. In that time, color will help determine by 60% whether your audience will reject what you have to say or be willing to accept the content. If you use mostly loud colors, it makes you seem like you are trying too hard – thus undermining your authority as a speaker. Having poor color sense gives the impression that your IQ is much lower than it really is. Thus, if you are going to present your mind map to a group, make sure that it is both intelligent and attractive to look at.
Are Hand-Drawn Mind Maps Superior to Computerized Ones?
This boils down to personal preferences. Some people swear by hand-drawn mind maps; others believe computerized mind maps made with the help of specialized software are better. One user engaged in business still likes to use hand-drawn mind maps but opts for the computer software version when he has to create a mind map that will be shared with other people, or has to be continuously amended and updated over time. Computer software mind map programs are called ‘graphical information organizers’, or software that falls under ‘graphical organization of information networks.’
Tony Buzan himself at first did not consider most mind mapping software out in the market to be part of the mind mapping technique – he devoted himself to the application of mind maps for learning (such as for studying in college.) But now he has also come out with his own personal mind mapping software – the iMindMap program.
Computer software does pose some benefits for mind mappers. One, the map can be quite large, if you wish. With a paper mind map, you are limited by the size of the paper. The software could feature pre-set symbols (as opposed to you inventing symbols of your own.) You can also change the organization of your mind map even after it has been drawn. Web or desktop files can be linked to map nodes. You can email the map to other people or simply post it on your website. There are map templates available nowadays which you could use if you don’t want to start from scratch. A mind map made with software can feature as high a level of detail as you wish. If you create a large map, you can search it. With all these advantages, the popularity of mind mapping software has definitely risen – one estimate is that 60,000 people per month try out the mind mapping software sites.
Tony Buzan markets his own software product as THE one program that can duplicate the effectiveness of the traditional hand-drawn mind maps. Its key features (according to Buzan) are: “unlimited visual variety, portability, freedom, brain friendliness, and effectiveness.” But if you want to explore other possibilities, Wilipedia has a list of 61 programs besides Buzan’s here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Mind_Mapping_software