Building on the success of three successful European mind mapping conferences, Biggerplate.com is bringing its Unplugged mind mapping conference to San Francisco on March 20, 2014. Here are 5 reasons why will be a killer, don’t-miss event for North American mind mappers.
I’ve been a fan of Liam Hughes’ work since he launched Biggerplate.com several years ago. I’ve applauded his commitment to providing a forum where mind mappers can meet and learn from expert speakers and each other – and build relationships around a shared interest in visual thinking.
So when Liam announced he would host his first Biggerplate Unplugged event in the States, I agreed to help promote it to mind mappers. I believe this is going to be an exceptional event. That’s why I asked Liam to share his perspective and those of attendees on what makes Biggerplate Unplugged stand out as a unique and valuable mind mapping conference.
You may be tempted to dismiss Biggerplate Unplugged as “just another conference,” but I urge you not to. That would be a mistake, in my opinion. There’s obviously something special going on here that makes it much more than a day’s worth of “talking heads.” There’s a vibrancy and a sense of community that elevate Liam’s mind mapping events to a higher level – and make them worth your investment.
1. Learning from expert speakers
The most visible part of any conference is the speaker line-up. Biggerplate Unplugged San Francisco is shaping up to have an excellent roster of mind mapping and visual thinking experts sharing their knowledge and insights.
- Chance Brown will explain how to use mind mapping to improve your decision-making
- Michael Deutch will explain how he uses mind maps as dashboards to make his work and home life incredibly well-organized and productive
- Olin Reams will take a closer look at how mind maps can help companies outflank their competitors and devise a solid plan for growth
- David Sibbett will lead an interactive session that explores how mind mapping fits into the larger canvas of visual thinking
- Dave Maxfield will demonstrate how mind maps can help you make sense of massive amounts of information
- James Franklin will share best practices for using mind maps for project management
For more details on the speaker lineup so far, please visit the event page. Why am I not speaking at this event? I have a schedule conflict I can’t get out of. If the San Francisco event is a success, Liam may hold another Biggerplate Unplugged in Chicago in 2015. I will definitely be there. I stand behind Biggerplate Unplugged 110% – that’s why I’m devoting so much space to explain why you NEED to go to this important mind mapping conference!
One of the speakers I’m most excited about is David Sibbett, who is one of the world’s foremost experts on the use of visual thinking techniques with teams and as part of corporate mission and strategy design. His excellent books are bibles for graphical facilitators and visual thinkers in many large companies. This guy is the best, and Biggerplate Unplugged is very fortunate to have him on the roster for this event.
2. Learning from your peers
One of the biggest strengths of the Biggerplate Unplugged events held in London, Paris and Uttrecht, The Netherlands during 2013 is that they provided a valuable place for mind mappers to gather with other like-minded individuals and exchange learning, experiences and a perhaps few tips and tricks – in person. Based on attendee feedback, Liam has scheduled ample time for attendees to network and learn from one another.
For example, past events have included a popular feature called “World Cafes,” in which attendees meet in small groups (around their table) to discuss a specific topic. One person, designated as the table leader, then provides the entire group with a summary of the key insights and observations they came up with. It’s a great model for sharing of knowledge and insights. We can expect to see this feature at the San Francisco event, too.
Here’s what one attendee had to say about the peer learning opportunities offered by Biggerplate Unplugged: “It is an opportunity to meet people working with mind mapping from different sectors and organizations in real life. These kind of meetings are excellent to get inspired by other participants, and to see and hear how they are using mind mapping in their work.”
In many cases, users of mind mapping software are far in the minority at most organizations, so they have no one to talk to and compare notes with. There isn’t even a strong, vibrant online community for mind mappers – which makes in-person networking doubly important.
3. Opportunities to collaborate with like-minded thinkers
At an event like Biggerplate Unplugged San Francisco, you have an opportunity to meet and talk to a diverse group of people – any one of whom could become collaborators with you on future projects. Liam designed this conference series to encourage small group discussion and serendipitous meetings that can lead to big things.
“I’ve always said that there is a common mind-set among mappers, which is open-minded, innovative, experimental, and genuinely collaborative. I think many people had a sense that interesting things would be sure to surface in a room full of people with this shared mind-set. That has certainly proved to be the case!” he added.
Attendees of past Biggerplate events echo this sentiment: “Biggerplate Unplugged events are becoming THE mind mapping events. Having attended two of the three events, I’ve seen that they have evolved into useful forums and are building a community of like-minded people,” says European mind mapper Niall Daly.
Marco Bertolini, who attended the event in Uttrecht, The Netherlands, concurs: “Biggerplate Unplugged is THE place to be if you want to meet other mindmappers, to get new ideas and to feel the trends in mindmapping. For me, it has become the major event in the mind mapping and visual thinking field.”
“What fun peer sharing; thank you for this great initiative!” – Fabienne De Broeck
4. Inspiration to expand your use of mind mapping
One of the obvious concerns for many North American mind mappers is return on investment. You may be asking yourself: “If I travel to travel to San Francisco for Biggerplate Unplugged, will it be worth the time and expense?” If the last three events are any indication, the San Francisco event will both inform and inspire its attendees and will generate value far in excess of the modest ticket price (US$59 before January 31 and $89 after that).
“There’s a great deal of practical learning that happens throughout, as many of the speakers are real experts, and much of the focus is on the practical, real-world use of mind mapping,” Liam explains. “Many people want to learn more about how mapping is being put to use in different contexts, and then take this learning back into their own departments, businesses, schools and organizations. There’s no doubt that attendees are taking a great deal of usable learning away from these conferences, based on what they’ve told me and our post-event surveys.”
Clearly,there’s something more going on at these events, an intangible buzz or energy that promises to help drive the practice of mind mapping forward:
“In the feedback for all three events, many people said they felt ‘inspired,’ not in some fluffy way, but in the sense that they felt genuinely excited and energized to try new things with mind maps, or to approach their mapping differently, to collaborate with people they met, or to experiment with new software or approaches,” Liam says. “It’s a hard thing to quantify, but it seemed to be a big outcome for people who came to the first three events. I’m sure it will be just as important in San Francisco!”
Once again, this makes Biggerplate Unplugged different than the typical conference, where attendees listen to a series of speakers and then may quickly forget all they learned in a matter of days as they return to the status quo of their workplaces.
The San Francisco event, with its emphasis on learning, networking and collaboration, promises to leave a lasting impact on the minds of its attendees, inspiring them to aim higher, reach farther and do great things in their work.
5. An ideal place to learn “what’s next” in mind mapping
The first three Biggerplate Unplugged events have quickly become a place where software developers preview new features and capabilities of their tools. Liam has also used it to announce new services he offers. “The events are already becoming established as opportunities for people and organizations to discuss their latest innovations, and that includes us at Biggerplate. So if you want to know what’s coming next in the mind map world, this is the place to hear about it first. We’ll certainly have a few exclusives up our sleeves for the conference attendees!”
Register for Biggerplate Unplugged San Francisco today!
If you use mind mapping software in your work, you should make plans to attend Biggerplate Unplugged San Francisco. Even if you haven’t made the investment in this type of productivity software but are curious about what it can do for your business, this is the place to learn what all the excitement is about.
Between now and the end of January, you can take advantage of early-bird pricing (US$59). After that date, tickets will increase in price to $89.
“Biggerplate Unplugged is the major mind mapping event of the year – do not miss!” – Alexandre Leboutet