Lead on Purpose

Promoting Leadership Principles in Product Management


Guest Post: Meeting Mapping

Today’s post comes from Dave Gunby. Dave has coached and trained thousands to be more powerful and persuasive presenters.  He has worked with a wide range of business people and presenters from executives to individual technical performers. He has also taught presentation skills to MBA students for more than 17 years. He is the founder and principal of MINDimensions, a leadership training and facilitation company dedicated to assisting others to use their creative and communication abilities to their fullest.

idea-mappingTaking Idea Map notes in meetings is a great way to keep your notes organized, even when the meeting isn’t (that describes most meetings!). Taking notes this way does require some practice. Try it first during some less critical meetings before using it in important meetings. Why should you Idea Map your notes versus standard linear notes?

  • Organization. You can keep things organized according to the way you remember things and group discussion items.
  • Attention. Idea Maps use more of your brain (including the part more likely to daydream), so attention and concentration are improved. Colors, spatial placement and relationships, and images/symbols are the bailiwick of the right side of the brain. Words, numbers, lines, and analysis are the purview of the left side of the brain.
  • Memory. The more regions of the brain that are activated, the better our memory is.
  • Compression. Idea Maps use less paper and less space, so there is less to go in a file (or in the trash!). This is especially true after you’ve finished a couple dozen Idea Maps.
  • Fun. The fact is that Idea Mapping is more fun than linear notes. As John F. Kennedy said, “If I’m not having fun, I’m not doing it right.”

Here’s how to do it. Before the meeting starts, draw a central image representing the theme or topic of the meeting. Then add in a couple of main branches with main concepts on them that you know will be discussed. Make sure you leave space to add in other branches as there will always be some digression during the meeting. As people jump around from topic to topic, you will be able to keep the information organized in your Idea Map.

To be able to keep up with the meeting, here are some speed tips. Use a limited number of colors (or just one color and colorize it later – the Ted Turner approach!), and capture words only. You can add in pictures later. You would also be well served to get a large pad of sketch paper for meeting Idea Maps – they will need a little more space than maps you make for personal brainstorming purposes.

For more on presentation skills and Idea Mapping, check out the podcast Dave and I recently recorded on the Product Management Pulse

The Product Management Perspective: Product managers take in a lot of information every day. Use Idea Mapping to help you take in information more quickly in the many meetings you attend.