1. Your mind maps are confusing
Your maps contain way too much information, poorly organized – the functional equivalent of a bowl of spaghetti.You haven’t given a lot of thought to how much information from your original mind map really needs to be shared with them. Did they really need to see all of that background information on why you recommended the ACME acquisition? Probably not.
The lesson: Remember that the people you’re sharing your mind maps with are like you – terminally busy. They must be able to “get” your mind map in 10 seconds or less, or chances are they will dismiss it. “I can’t understand it. I don’t have the time to understand it. Next!”
2. Your mind maps are visually boring
You decided, for the sake of expediency, to create your latest map using your program’s default settings – which are mind-numbingly monochromatic. Black text. Black shapes. Black lines. Zzzzzz…
The lesson: If you want people to notice your mind maps, then you need to add a bit of visual pizzazz to them. Use colors (text, lines and topic shapes) to add visual interest. Add appropriate icons/symbols and images to add meaning and context to your maps. But don’t go overboard – if you do, you’ll be wasting a lot of time tweaking them, with little improvement in their effectiveness. Think about what you really want your target audience to notice – and then use your program’s formatting tools to deliberately draw attention to it.
3. The content of your mind maps isn’t relevant to them
Even if your mind map is well-organized and has beautiful visual presentation, none of that will matter if its content isn’t relevant to the people with whom you’re sharing it. Busy executives must ruthlessly filter all of the information that’s coming at them. If they view your mind map and they don’t see anything they need to care about, they will dismiss it – and your opportunity to influence them will be lost.
The lesson: Filter the contents of your maps, so they only contains the information that is immediately relevant to the people with whom you’re sharing them. As I suggested in reason #2, format your map to naturally draw the viewer’s eyes to the most important information. You can do that in a variety of ways, including colored map topics, text size and format, and by placing a boundary around the most important topic and its children.
4. The people you’ve shared your mind maps with are in “map shock”
This condition occurs when you share mind maps with linear thinkers (the folks who like their words in neatly formatted paragraphs and their numbers in flawless rows and columns), without preparing them for what they’re seeing and why you’re presenting it in this way. You’ve just dumped a large, complex visual map on them, and their eyes are glazing over. Like a cornered animal, they’re getting ready to make a break for it, and silently vowing never to look at another mind map.
The lesson: Ease these Luddites into the world of mind mapping. Start out by providing them with a conventional text-based report, with one or two mind maps incorporated as supporting elements. Get them used to seeing visual maps as a legitimate way to present certain types of information. That way, they’re more likely to accept a mind map by itself in the future.
5. You’re evangelizing too much
Mind mappers tend to be a passionate bunch. They have seen the light. They’re much more productive and creative. And they want to tell everyone who will listen all about it. Worse yet, they mind map EVERYTHING, including grocery lists. They have become evangelists. When that happens, coworkers instinctively roll their eyes and shut down mentally, because they realize you’re on your soapbox again. They sense that mind maps are not a panacea. They don’t solve every business problem.
The lesson: Be openly pragmatic in your use of mind maps in your department or among members of your work team. Let them know it’s one of many tools in your executive toolbox. It’s not a panacea for every business situation.
If you need help producing more persuasive and impactful mind maps and strategies for sharing them with others effectively, why not consider joining the Mind Mapping Insider membership program?