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Taking Notes With Mind Maps Instead of Text Documents


Most professionals default to jotting down notes in long text documents or slide presentations. While this allows you to capture lots of information, text-heavy notes often end up disjointed and confusing to refer back to later.

Mind mapping provides a much more effective approach to note taking for meetings, trainings, conferences and more. Visually mapping key concepts makes notes more organized, memorable, and actionable.

This comprehensive guide covers using mind mapping for enhancing your note taking skills. We will explore:

  • Benefits of mind mapping over text notes
  • Step-by-step guidance on mind mapping meeting and presentation notes
  • Tips for structuring useful mind mapped notes
  • Recommended mind mapping tools for note taking
  • Strategies to develop mind mapping note taking proficiency
  • Examples of effective mind mapped notes

After reading, you will be equipped to level up your note taking with visual mind mapping techniques that drive clarity, retention, and results.

Why Mind Map Notes Instead of Text?

Let’s first look at some of the key reasons mind mapping leads to better note taking outcomes versus traditional text approaches:

Visual Structure

A mind map structures concepts visually, making relationships clear.

Faster Synthesis

Mind mapping notes facilitates faster synthesis and organization of concepts.

Custom Organization

Mind maps can be organized in whatever way makes sense for your thinking.

Captures Keywords

Mind maps use keywords and phrases instead of long sentences.

Retains Focus

The mind mapping format prevents detail rabbit holes.

Engages Both Hemispheres of Your Brain

Mind maps utilize your visual, creative right brain along with your logic left brain.

Easier to Scan and Revisit

Mind map notes let you zero in on key points quicker vs reading paragraphs of text.

Adds Color Coding and Visual Cues

Colors, symbols, and images code and illustrate relationships in mind maps.

Fosters Creativity

The mind mapping format stimulates new ideas and insights beyond just recording facts.

Exports an Organized Artifact

A mind map provides a tidy visual artifact you can easily revisit, share, or use for presentations.

Clearly, mind mapping offers major benefits over text for absorbing information and capturing usable notes.

Step-by-Step Guide to Mind Mapping Notes

Follow this approach when mind mapping notes from a meeting, presentation, lecture, or other information source:

1. Frame the Purpose

Be clear on why you are capturing notes – is this for your future personal reference, or to share back with a wider team? Defining the goal focuses the mind map.

2. Outline Main Concept Categories

Identify 4-8 key topical areas or categories central to what is being presented. These will become main branches.

3. Listen and Capture Key Concepts Visually

As you listen to the presentation, write down key concepts, examples, stats, and takeaways on the relevant branches or sub-branches of the mind map.

4. Note Relationships Between Concepts

Use lines, arrows, and proximity on the mind map to illustrate connections between concepts across branches.

5. Use Color Coding and Symbols

Color code branches or use symbols and icons to classify types of information for quick visual parsing.

6. Limit Detail

Avoid getting dragged into the weeds. Keep concepts high-level with key phrases and words.

7. Clarify with Examples

Capture specific examples, stats, lists, and details that illustrate concepts on the map.

8. Identify Key Takeaways

Star or highlight the most critical takeaways on the mind map for quick reference later.

9. Export, Share, and Revisit

Export your mind map notes for personal reference or to share back with stakeholders if relevant.

This approach allows you to actively listen, synthesize, and capture notes visually for much greater clarity and recall later.

Helpful Tips for Structuring Mind Mapped Notes

Follow these tips when mind mapping notes:

  • Use a top-down structure starting with main themes.
  • Limit the main branches to 5-8 key categories. Avoid detail overload.
  • Keep top layers high-level, with details on sub-branches.
  • Use single words or short key phrases instead of full sentences.
  • Add images, color coding, icons, and symbols to aid memory and clarity.
  • Illuminate relationships between concepts with connecting arrows and lines.
  • Capture key data points, stats, lists, and examples to illustrate high-level topics.
  • Be selective. Do not try to capture everything.
  • Review and refine the mind map for clarity soon after the session.

Following best practices for structuring mind mapped notes leads to much more usable reference materials.

Recommended Mind Mapping Tools for Notes

A number of capable mind mapping tools facilitate capturing notes visually:

MindNode – Lightweight mind mapping app ideal for taking notes on the go.

MindManager – Robust desktop mind mapping software with great note taking capabilities.

MindMeister – Intuitive web-based mind mapping tool optimized for fast note taking.

Coggle – Simple freeform mind mapping environment great for notes.

iMindMap – Powerful mind mapping and brainstorming tool for Mac users.

MindMup – Free online mind mapping with a simple, clean interface.

Roam Research – Note taking tool with mind map-like visual wiki features.

Whimsical – Visually engaging mind maps, great for quick notes.

Milanote – Digital notes and mind maps with infinite canvas.

SimpleMind – Streamlined mind mapping focused on speed and ease of use.

Test different options to find the best fit for your personal note taking needs and style.

Real-World Examples of Mind Mapped Notes

To make this concept more concrete, here are a few examples of effective mind mapped notes:

Product Roadmap Meeting Notes

A product manager captured high-level product themes and initiatives from an internal roadmap presentation in this mind map.

Training Session Notes

An employee leveraged mind mapping to summarize key concepts, takeaways, and action items from a software training course.

Conference Session Notes

An attendee used mind mapping to synthesize and capture key insights from a conference breakout session.

Strategy Meeting Notes

A director took visual notes during an executive strategy presentation to easily communicate key takeaways to his team after the meeting.

Presentation Notes

A sales manager mind mapped an industry presentation, noting key data, examples, and relationships on branches.

These examples demonstrate how mind mapping leads to higher quality, more organized notes versus traditional text approaches.

Getting Started Tips for Mind Mapping Notes

As you get started with mind mapping your notes:

Use Pen and Paper – Mind mapping by hand with a pen and paper first can build proficiency before using software tools.

Start Small – Begin mind mapping short team meetings before tackling large conference keynotes.

Set a Goal – Clarify your objectives upfront – are you mapping for personal use or to share? This focuses the mind map.

Time Yourself – Practice quick mind mapping skills by timing yourself summarizing a short video or article.

Compare With Text Notes – Take both text and mind map notes during the same meeting and compare the usefulness afterwards.

Ask For Feedback – Share mind maps with colleagues and ask for feedback on what resonated versus any gaps.

Review and Refine – Treat mind maps as living documents to refine with more detail soon after capturing initial notes.

With regular practice, mind mapping notes will become second nature. Use mind mapping to boost comprehension, retention, and recall of the critical information you need to excel in your role.

In summary, mind mapping is a game changer for absorbing information and note taking. The visual format leads to organized, high quality reference materials that integrate logical thinking and creativity.

Make mind mapping your go-to for note taking to get the most value from meetings, trainings, conferences, and presentations.

By Dani Davis

Dani Davis is the pen name of the writer of this blog with more 15 years of constant experience in Content marketing and informatics product, e-commerce niche.

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