Event Management

6 Ways to Use Mind Maps in Event Planning

Skift Take

Looking for a way to organize your events differently? Want a tool that plays to the visual person you are? Mind mapping may be just what you need.

Are you a visual person? Have you ever had to spell out a word on paper just to see if it “looked right”? If you need to see things to understand them or you work best by envisioning things in your mind, mind maps can add a clearer focus on your event planning and problem solving.

What Are Mind Maps?

Mind mapping helps the creator understand the basis of a problem or challenge or flesh out details through a visual “web” or map. The diagram helps organize in a visual fashion. Generally, the center of the map is a problem or goal. The branches out from the center depict direct relational ideas to the center with additional branches off those branches. The idea was commonly used in the 1970s and referenced as “sunburst diagrams” at that time, but the concept of visual problem solving has been around for centuries.  

Mind maps are often hand-drawn but there is software available that will do it for you as well. The benefit of the software is that it may make using images easier if you don’t enjoy doodling, still many people need the free-flow of sketching them by hand to better promote idea generation and retention of information.

Using Mind Maps in Event Planning

Tony Buzan, author and television personality, brought mind maps to popularity in the mid-70s. He believed they were the best way to take notes. Buzan suggested creating a mind map in the following steps:

  1. Start in the center of a blank sheet of paper.
  2. Convey your central idea through a hand-drawn image or picture. (If you’re working on brainstorming ideas for increasing attendance at your next event, you could use a crowd scene in the center.)
  3. Use color in your mind map because it stimulates the brain in the same way that images do.
  4. Begin linking your central idea to branches and then branch off from the branches. Draw any correlations that may occur to you once you do this.
  5. Don’t use a ruler like you’re diagramming sentences. Instead, you want curves because the brain finds those more interesting than a line.
  6. Don’t enumerate on concepts by writing long paragraphs. The point of a mind map is to keep it highly visual and thus stimulating to your brain. One word branches are ideal.
  7. Use images as needed throughout the map.

For event planners, you may prefer using a whiteboard or a chalkboard to create a visual representation that can evolve as you change your mind or brainstorm additional pieces. If you do, you may consider capturing different steps with your smartphone so that as you erase, nothing is lost.

Now that you know how to create one, how can you use this technique in your event planning business?

First-Time Client Meetings

Mind mapping is ideal for note taking and understanding requirements. As a client or potential client is giving you the details of what s/he wants in the event, you can mind map client needs, wants, and your own ideas. If you are a gifted artist, mind mapping can also create an impressive visual representation of the project as you understand it.

This can really help tie different types of communicators together. For instance, event planners are often visual. Your client may not be, but seeing the visual depiction of the notes on the event may help them understand how the entire plan will come together.

Decision Making

If you’re trying to figure out the relationship between one piece or another, or one venue and another, creating a mind map can help get all of your ideas on paper in a way that is much easier to process. You could visually represent pros and cons of each venue and see how they intertwine. It could also help you present those to your client so that they’re looking at things the same way you are.

Marketing Outlets for the Event

A mind map works nicely to detail all of the different marketing and public relations outlets you would use to tell people about your event. This includes social media, blogging, industry influencers and more. Seeing them listed can help you visualize additional opportunities and connections as well.

Tracking Team Members and Responsibilities

If you prefer visual cues to lists, you can use mind mapping to give shape to everyone on your event team and what their event day responsibilities are, the chain of command and communication. This form of visual project management will help you see how everything is interconnected as well.

Areas for Sponsorships

Creating a mind map of areas for sponsorships can help you uncover additional opportunities you may not have thought of. By detailing each area of your event, you can see them in new ways that may bring on the creative ideas. You can also fill in existing sponsorships and look for obvious holes.

Sessions and Resources

If your event has learning sessions, you can create a mind map of the speakers and topics. Seeing them visually allows you to view possible connections and areas of additional learning you can use for social media, blogging, and other needed resources. It can also help you see sponsorship and connection opportunities between learning and vendors.

A Word About Mind Mapping Software

When the creativity is second to the solution, mind mapping software may be a better option. In those cases, you can focus on the outcome instead of the creation. Popular applications include LucidChart, Bloomfire, Mindjet, XMind, and Ideaflip. The other benefit of mind mapping software is that some of it allows you to attach documents through a link, yet they reside elsewhere. This is especially helpful if you were creating a mind map for event details and you could link to the “Day-of Event Checklist,” for instance. If this checklist appeared on several mind maps, you could make a change to the contents and those changes would appear to be “universally applied,” but in reality, the document lives in a central repository, not in every instance, which can be very helpful.

In Conclusion

If you’re a visual person, you may enjoy the visual brainstorming and problem solving of mind mapping. Artists and people who enjoy the free flow creativity of the hand and mind working together will select mind mapping on paper or whiteboards, while those who worry less about creativity and are more interested in seeing the final solution pathway, or project, may want to look into mind mapping software.

Do you use mind mapping? If so, how? Please share your thoughts below.