Mind Mapping for Better Speech Writing

The idea of choosing a topic for your speech should not be that hard, yet the “What am I going to talk about” seems to bewilder many. Even if your topic has been chosen for you, lining up what you are going to say can take some doing. We do not want to say too much but we do not want to leave our audience in a lurch. We do want them asking for more.

John is asked to speak about his new project to a group of potential investors. The pitch to the group should be designed so they understand the basics of the project in about ten minutes. John sees this as an impossible task noting that the project has been two-years in the making. His boss suggests that he brain storm the speech with others in his group – to Knowledge Map or Mind Map the presentation. 

Mind Mapping is not a new idea, but one that is ignored when writing out a speech. So let’s start with some basics.

1) Start with a large piece of paper or a whiteboard and a group of at least four people. I tend to start my Mind Maps in the center of the paper, but you can start on the left side if you wish. When you are practiced, you can do these by yourself.

2) Write down the main idea of the presentation. In John’s case that is Project ABC.  Now, creating hierarchy, next write down four or more topics you wish to speak about in your presentation. (Remember, this can be done for a political speech as well.)

RULE #1 Do Not Question and Do Not Discuss the Ideas. Good, bad or horrible, write each down.

RULE #2 Use Key Words Only. There is no need for sentences here; in fact I strongly suggest you refrain from using sentences in this exercise. Three words is the most you need to jog the memory.

3) Under each topic (or next to), indicate when you would like to say in a word or two. OK, three words is fine here. Again, do not question the entries, just write things down.

You can go down on more layer, but not two.

4) Now as a group discussion, ask what is not absolutely necessary for the presentation keeping in mind the purpose of the speech. Eliminate these.

I usually suggest that you limit yourself with three to four ideas for a 10 minute presentation, or about one every two to three minutes. Remember, you still need about 30-seconds for your opening and closing statements.

5) Now, if you are comfortable with your basic information, connect similar ideas or ideas that tend to support or transition to another topic. Finally, number the ideas in order of importance.

Though it looks a bit messy, your final product should look something link this:


Some Mind Maps use multiple colors to organize the ideas, some draw pictures. Remember the old saying of “Whatever floats your boat?” The design and the content will vary with each project you encounter and who is leading the discussion.

As you examine your Mind Map, you may notice something very interesting. You have created a key-word outline for your presentation. Use this to develop you formal presentation OR as your outline and PowerPoint slides for an informal presentation.

Note: this is different from a “Flow Chart” for the process of the speech is individualized and not subject to an exacting order. There are no established start and stop points, no process points and no decision points to worry about.

Finally, develop your opening and closing after you have finished with your Mind Map. You will have a better idea as to what you wish to summarize both segments.

If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Mind Mapping or what InkandVoice can do for your organization, please contact David at Dave@InkandVoice.com or on Skype at SageDave1.

About David Rosman

David is the winner of the Missouri Press Foundation's "Best Columnist" in 2013 (First Place) and 2014 (Second Place), the 2016 Harold Riback Award for excellence in writing, and the winner of the 2007 Interactive Media Award for excellence in editing.
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