Mind Mapping Conference Line Up

Summary Mind Map outlining the Speaker List at the Biggerplate Mind Mapping Conference

[This blog post gives a quick overview of the conference with some of my observations and thoughts.  At the end of this post you can download a free report which goes into much more detail about what was actually covered including my personal mind maps taken live at the event].

This week I attended the inaugural BiggerPlate mind mapping conference held in London at New Zealand house.  Put together by Liam Hughes from the BiggerPlate website which over the last few years has become the largest repository of computer-generated mind maps on the Internet.

Towards the end of last year I received an e-mail from them telling me about this mind mapping conference and so with an avid interest myself I thought I would attend.  The event promised to be a gathering of some of Europe’s mind mapping elite to share ideas and to explore possibilities of how to help this amazing thinking tool become mainstream.

Now I have been around the mind mapping space in the UK for a few years now and so I was somewhat surprised to only recognise one or two people there from when I first got involved in using this powerful tool.   However I was really quite excited to see about 50 to 60 key advocates of this powerful thinking device.   Included in the guest list for this event were trainers, coaches mind mapping software vendors, authors consultants and a whole variety of people genuinely interested in mind mapping.

Liam Hughes and Michael Tipper

Liam Hughes and Michael Tipper at the Biggerplate Mind Mapping Conference

Liam Hughes opened the conference stating that the aim of BiggerPlate was to create a greater level of collectivity and collaboration between those involved in the mind mapping space.   And as the launch event for a series he was planning, he wanted to use this as a start to help drive progress in the mind mapping industry (as it was described at the start and continue to be described throughout the day) – though I’m not convinced there is an actual mind map industry.

But clearly here is a man with passion about mind mapping because of the tremendous impact it had on his own life and his goal and that of BiggerPlate is to be the best source of mind mapping information in the world.

Now what is interesting about Liam’s drive is that this isn’t a venture with strong commercial drivers but this is about someone who has benefited from this tool and who wants others to do the same.   Of course there is bound to be some for the business interested but I was struck by his honesty, his integrity and his genuine passion for helping people reap the rewards of mind mapping in the same way that he is done.

So once Liam had introduced the conference he wasn’t there to be the centre of attention,  he was bringing a variety of experts and people to share their thoughts on the topic and so he started off by introducing Chris Griffiths from Think Buzan, the originators of iMindMap.

Now Chris is quite an amazing fellow.  His background is in business – he sold his first business when he was 26 and then ran a public limited company.  His driver is about his fascination with technology combined with the latest brain processes.  To cut a long story short he approached Tony Buzan and from that iMindMap was born.

Chris shared with us how iMindMap has developed and a gave us an insight into the future.  Fundamental to message, and this is no surprise coming from the Buzan camp, is that the hand drawn process is still going to be the first port of call in the development of iMindMap.

I have known Chris for a few years now having first met him at a dinner hosted by Tony Buzan but I’ve never heard him speak.  It was a real pleasure to see someone not only passionate about mind mapping share their views, but also someone who is not only capable of making the difference as you will see with the way iMindMap has proliferated around the world will also someone who is actually doing it.

Now after Chris spoke Nick Duffill shared with us how to communicate more effectively with mind maps and specifically with smaller mind maps.  As an avid user of mind mapping software since 1997 he has a broad experience of understanding how to use such software in a variety of circumstances and situations.

One of his passions is understanding how it can be used most effectively in communications and his experience has shown that it is at its most impactful when it is used in what he calls inductive communication.  He spent some time hoping to turn the concepts of mind mapping communication on their head and his statement was “the big picture is the centre of the map and not the whole map”.

I think his ideas made sense and his comparison between a large hand drawn mind map and the more condensed inductive version revealed that in terms of communication, simplicity was the key.

The conference wasn’t just about speakers standing up and sharing their views, but there were three panel discussions held throughout the day where some of the speakers fielded questions from the audience.

This always had the potential for being a bit of a bunfight, but one of the things that was most impressive throughout the day was Liam Hughes’ management and handling of the questions and the compering of this interactive part of the day.  He controlled the conversations with style and panache and refocused the conversations back to the key points (which he had to do on a regular basis) and I think what we’re seeing here is the evolution and development of a true champion and future market leader in this field.


Mind Mapping Experts

Chris Griffiths, Andrew Wilcox, Nick Duffill and Barry Mapp form the first Mind Mapping Panel

The first panel discussion consisted of Nick Duffill, Barry Mapp (a long-standing hand drawn mind mapper0, Andrew Wilcox and Chris Griffiths.  There was an interesting discussions with the opening question around looking at what barriers are there to people learning and understanding mind mapping and how could they be overcome.

There were interesting contributions from the floor including from yours truly and I think the conclusion we came to was that it was more important to get focused on how to apply mind mapping and the benefits of it before really getting into the how to.

One suggestion from the panel was to use a SWOT analysis other way of demonstrating how the tool could actually be used.

The topic of education was skirted round and an interesting distinction was shared by Chris Griffiths from think Buzan about an experience they had had in India where they had introduced mind mapping in education.  Having taught the kids how to use the mind map and getting some great initial results they found that later on, the impact had dropped off.  They discovered the teachers were creating the mind maps for the kids and taking away the power and the benefits of the creation process itself from the children which meant its impact was greatly and significantly reduced.

Another feature that the BiggerPlate conference offered was the opportunity for small short speed sessions on technique and the first one was from Andrew Wilcox who shared his insights into how people can find our mind maps on the Internet and the challenges some people may find in doing so.

Before the lunch break we were treated to probably what was the highlight of the day for me and that was hearing from Craig Scott who is the developer of the most popular mind mapping On the Apple operating system and that is iThoughts.

Craig shared with us his background about how he first started developing his app when the iPod Touch was released and he based it on the popular free mind mind mapping software.  To cut a long story short after launching on the iPad where it was the first mind mapping app on that platform he developed a sufficient enough income to be able to leave his day job and develop iThoughts full-time.

After Craig we had a delightful session with Jim Mather who talked about real-world collaboration. This is a seasoned Scottish politician who is clearly passionate about collaboration and how he believes it is the key to the future.   He created a very compelling case about the importance of collaboration and how mind mapping facilitates it so very well.

With a business interest in mind Genius the mind mapping software Jim has been introducing collaboration and mind mapping into his business and his political life.  He shared a story about how he had used the two together in his constituency to help create a sense of purpose which had the impact of sending his successor to Parliament at the next election taking the majority from just 815 to over 8000.

Another speed session by Stephen Rothwell took us through the step-by-step process for creating documents from start to finish using mind mapping software.   This was a very interesting session for me because I wrote my last book on memory improvement using this technique and what Steve showed what a way to take this from cradle to grave and how to do it in the most effective way.

As I mentioned earlier there were some of the leading mind mapping software vendors in the room.

We heard from Chris Griffiths the founder of the company that created iMindMap at the start of the day and then later on we heard from John Barber from MindJet.   Now if you’re not familiar with MindJet, they are the people who make mind manager, probably the longest standing mind mapping software in the marketplace.

Now MindJet is a heavy hitter in this and it was no surprise to see them here not only represented but also speaking. However this was probably the most disappointing session of the day.

The corporate sales feel to the presentation contrast it significantly with the open honest and authentic way the other software vendors shared their ideas and information in their sessions.   Now PowerPoint has got a really bad name because of people standing up and reading from their slides.  Here we saw a perfect example of exactly the same thing with using mind mapping software.

This audience didn’t need to know the evolution of mind mapping, social media or technology and I thought this presentation really missed the point of the day. Not only that but it lacked the passion and an authentic enthusiasm so evident in all of the other presentations.

Then we contrast it the presentation of another software vendor, this time MindMeister.   This is the online collaborative mind mapping package that is popular with many mind mappers.

Here Thomas Thornton gave a laid-back but passionate presentation about how MindMeister has been used and could be used in education as well as giving an example of the collaborative nature of the software and how it can be used to engage and interact visitors to websites.

Thomas believes that as far as mind mapping software is concerned that in terms of the technology adoption life-cycle we are in the early adopter phase and that it is only a matter of time before we enter the early majority phase.

The day closed with another panel session with many people sharing observations about the day and asking questions about mind mapping and its many uses and applications in all sorts of fields.

An interesting observation about gender bias was raised and it appears that as many as three quarters of MindMeister users are male. Looking around the audience less than 20% of those attending were female.

An interesting conversation ensued and I certainly don’t want to even attempt to pass judgement, offer comments or even try to record that part of the discussions but there does seem to be a largely male bias to the users of mind mapping software.   Perhaps that is a topic for a future post.

So overall this was an interesting and enlightening day that explored mind mapping, mind mapping software and the many uses of this powerful tool.

This was the inaugural BiggerPlate unplugged events and there are others planned around the world over the coming months. I expect as the next few months pass we will start to see more and more people take up this tool.

I think a critical mass has yet to be achieved but with the passionate encouragement of people like those in the room, we will soon see mind mapping being a feature in more schools more businesses and according to Jim Mather, more political environments.

So should you go to one of these events if you see them advertise locally to where you are?

Well at the moment in the early stages you will find that this is a meeting of minds of those who are passionate and experienced advocates of mind mapping.   So if you want to be inspired and rub shoulders with people who could help you understand then use this then this is a good place to start but understand the next couple maybe more for those who already experienced practitioners of this powerful tool.

Nevertheless I expect great things from BiggerPlate because they are bringing together what to date has been probably a disparate group of people for the greater good.

In the future I think these events need to have more round table discussions amongst those who attend as well as more practical demonstrations and case studies of how this tool has been applied in a variety of settings and environments.  However for a first event this was a really good start and I will certainly take every opportunity to attend more of these when I can.

So well done Liam and the BiggerPlate team and look forward to hearing of your successes at the future events.

Right Cick Image and "Save As" to download the Free Report on the Conference

Right Cick Image and “Save As” to download the Free Report on the Conference

Click here (right click and “save as”) to download my free report on the proceedings of the first BiggerPlate Mind Mapping Conference, that includes all of my Mind Maps taken on the day as well as a key summary of each session and some exclusive photographs from the event.


iMindMap 6 is Now Available


iMindMap 6, the long awaited update from ThinkBuzan to the very popular Mind Mapping Software that has been leading the way is now available.

Here is what the chaps at ThinkBuzan have got to say about their new creation:

iMindMap has been injected with an enormous shot of creativity for 6. We’ve made everything more visually stunning, to help stimulate your creative juices; streamlined, to get out of your way when you’re thinking; and flexible, so you can illustrate your ideas, your way. From the new Map Snippets and Flowcharts to the reimagined 3D View and Presentations, iMindMap 6 will inspire your thinking and fuel your creativity.

The update from version 4 to version 5 of iMindMap was quite impressive but I think this improvement toprobably the only software that can compete with MindManager will make this a true contender for the top spot.

I shall check it out in more detail and let you know what I find.

Meanwhile you can get a free download of iMindMap 6 by going to the Buzan Website.


The Power of Mind Mapping – A Convert

Using this fabulous tool is something I have been doing for over 16 years now and I often take for granted the incredible power of Mind Mapping.  As a thinking tool it is second to none for its versatility, ease of use and of course effectiveness.

But using it every single day, one forgets just how much better one’s thinking is because the higher performance levels that using Mind Mapping gives you becomes the norm.  I am only reminded of its power when someone new to it or someone who has never really “got it” suddenly realises it for themselves.

I was working with a client recently on one of their Leadership Development Programmes and the local Site Director had just addressed a group going through the training.  As usual I took my notes using Mind Mapping on my beloved iPad (more about that and what App I use in another post).

Taking notes in this way in the past has always attracted some sort of attention but these days, now I have stepped over into the light and have invested in Apples seminal portable device I get double the attention and today was no exception.

After the Site Director had finished speaking and had departed, one of the delegates (from HR) came over and expressed an interest in the Mind Map I had created (though I secretly think it was the iPad that drew her over initially :-) ).

The conversation started in the same way that hundreds of similar conversations have started over the years:

“I had a go at Mind Mapping a few years ago.  I tried it but they didn’t really work for me”

“Oh Really” I replied “How long did you try them for?”

“Not long really.  Once I realised I couldn’t get the hang of them I stopped bothering” she replied.

Now there are many reasons this particular person may not have “got” Mind Mapping but I suspect it is one of two reasons:

  1. She wasn’t taught the technique properly (highly likely given that there are few professional instructors who a) really understand them and b) are able to teach it effectively
  2. She didn’t persevere with the tool if she had been taught it correctly.

Regardless of the reason, I was presented with an opportunity to right the wrongs of the past (well in Mind Map terms anyway!) and give her an opportunity to finally get it.

In the 20 minutes or so before she came over to look at my notes, we had both experienced her site director share his thoughts on leadership and on my iPad was interpretation and capture of what he had said in Mind Mapping form.

So I took her through it and reminded her of what he had said.  After going through it, she was stunned because the key words I used triggered her memory and allowed her to recall much of the presentation if not all of it.

Here is the actual Mind Map I shared with her.

The Power of Mind Mapping - Example

Now as you look at this image taken from my iPad it will mean very little to you because you weren’t there.  However if I was to sit down with you and explain what each of the key words mean then you would have a similar understanding of the key points raised as though you were there.

Because this HR professional was there at the time these notes made complete and utter sense to her but crucially for her, she had a recall experience by looking at this map that she would not have otherwise have had and it was at that moment of realisation that she “got” the Power of Mind Mapping.  As  a result, she spent the rest of the week using the tool and has since gone on to incorporate it into the way she thinks and manages information.

Now this is not my best Mind Mapping example because it was quickly jotted down as the Site Director was speaking.  However it conforms to the main guidelines recommended by Tony Buzan which are:

  • I have used colour
  • There are key words on a line
  • I have used images
  • The branches radiate out from the central topic
  • The branches connect to the central image and each other

The only thing I could possibly do to make it align more closely with the principles of best practice are to make the central image a picture and use at least 3 colours (let’s hope the Mind Map Police don’t get wind of this one).

So another successful day at the “office” as another person is now benefiting from this amazingly simple device.

Here’s my parting shot for you then…

If you have tried Mind Mapping in the past and don’t currently use it, why is that so?  Pop your answer in the comment field below because I am keen to understand why.


iMindMap 5 is on its way and will be released to the world some time in February (exact date still to be announced).

Well if you thought the fuss and nonsense about the launch of version 4.0 was anything to go by, then that is nothing compared to the hoopla that the Buzan team is putting on for the launch of this version.

Rumour has it that they have been working on this for two years which I suppose makes sense as it is 2 years since the last update.

There are lots of new features in iMindMap 5 such as a 3D view and I really hope that it is an improvement on V4 but without the teething problems that release had.

I will tell you more about it in a future post, but for now you can find out all about it from this dedicated iMindMap 5 website.

When it is launched and you get it, let me know what you think.


This post continues from Language Learning Using Mind Mapping  Part 1.

If you’re using Mind Mapping to teach a language, encourage your students to come up with as many words as they can when they are creating their Mind Map.

And remind them that it’s okay to have a “full” mind map.

Be sure to drive home the benefit of pictures—the more, the merrier as well.

If your students are a bit older, you can also try the following technique.

You can expand the earlier mind map to create a visual mind map with some creativity.

Let’s say you’re learning German—Frau is German for lady or missus, and Fraulein is, you might know, a young lady, or Miss.

Try mind mapping with word and image association—add a frowning plump lady for “Frau” and a leaner (still frowning) young lady for the word “Fraulien.”

Humour and imagery stick in your mind like nothing else does, and although this might mean more work (and deson’t expect to find associations for every word) this will make for a fun mind map that will aid you a great deal.

A word of caution, though: This works really well for students whose primary goal is to learn to speak. If you’re looking for formal writing knowledge as well, this map might not be as effective as the earlier one.

Mind maps can also be used to increase your existing vocabulary in any language.

Etymological mind maps (mind maps from roots of words) are a good idea for this.

Have a strong etymological root in the center, and branch out into different words that use that root.

There will be other roots that those words use, and you can branch out of those as well.

pathosFor example (using English so we can understand the principle) , let’s say you are mind mapping the root “pathos,” which means “suffering.” Some of your words may be pathology, sympathy, telepathic, and pathetic.

Try and add images, emoticons, or anything visual to make the mind map stick better in your memory.

Now, the word “telepathy” can itself branch off in to other words that use the root “tele-“.

Or, for a more Buzanesque mind map, create sentences with branch words such as “telepathy” or think of other words that are (non-etymologically) related to “telepathy”—maybe communication, sensory, ESP, etc.

Mind Mapping ist groß, nicht wahr?

How do you think you can use mind mapping in language learning and enhancement?


Mind Manager 9.0 for Windows is Released

mindjet_logoMindjet have just announced that Mind Manager 9.0 for Windows has been released.

This Mind Mapping software is one of the leading, if not the lead Mind Map software on the marketplace.  Its development, particularly over the last few years has been significant and I am convinced it is well on the way to becoming a must have tool in the corporate environment alongside Microsoft Office.

So what is new in Mind Manager 9.0?

Well here are the main additional feature and improvement areas:

  • Power performance (meaning it is faster and uses less computing resources making it easier on the RAM and hard drive access)
  • Power Gannt Chart and resource planning (great for project managers who maybe now don’t need to export or integrate with separate PM software)
  • Slide Presentations (an addition to the exisiting presentation mode that gives greater flexibility)
  • Dynamic Outlook Dashboards (the interface with MS OUtlook has long been a bone of contention with power users of Mind Manager and so this is a huge leap forward for them)
  • WYSIWYG Printing (this means you will get what you want on the print output much easier than the fiddling around with previous versions)
  • Image and Icon Library (One of my biggest gripes with Mind Manager upgrades in the past is that it left out previously good and usable images and provided a new range.  I was never quite sure why.  Let’s hope this new library is in addition to what is available in versions 7 and 8)
  • Enhanced Interface and Usability Improvements (this is about being better integrated with Microsoft Office which is never a bad thing)

So all in all what is a very impressive piece of software (when you know how to use it right) has just got better.

Of course there are many features that will go unused and with such a powerful tool it is easy to get lost and completely under utilise the software.

Mind Manager is a powerful productivity tool when you know what you are doing and you have a structure and system in place to guide you in its use.

My Business Profit Productivity Blueprint will show you exactly how to be infinitely more productive and take far more control of your professional life using Mind Manager.


flags150wMind maps can be truly universal—with the right mind maps, language barriers fall apart. The images and branches should give people an idea of what the mind map is trying to convey.

Here’s the twist:  Language Learning Using Mind Mapping is also a great way of using this tool.

A new language is always learnt by association.

If you were ever in a foreign country, you’ll realize that the words in your vocabulary in the foreign tongue are strongly skewed toward a set of related words—for example, hotel, complaint, no hot water, and $^&#*@!

The mind mapping technique, in fact, has been used with great success in English as a Second Language (ESL) classes around the world, especially in the United States.

How do you harness the power of mind maps to learn a new language, teach a new language, or expand your current vocabulary?

Remember that language learning mind maps are mostly about retention, so the factors that increase retention (colour, strong associations and images) must be emphasized during mind mapping.

One of the ways to do it is to do it by theme.

RestaurantSo, a “restaurant and bar” mind map will branch off into words that you think relate to it. Perhaps your mind map branches will be eating, drinking, and date, with each having several branches of their own.

What you can do is write the word in the new language, along with a picture, if possible, and/or in your native language.

This technique works really well with pictures, so be sure to use as many as you can.

Also use as many colours as possible to group similar words. One of the techniques used by Tony Buzan is colour coding the words in the mind map into those that are the same as, similar to, or completely different from the native language.

Keep learning mind maps in a place where you can look at them often—your refrigerator door, office board, or even in your car.

If you’re creating these mind maps using mind mapping software (a great idea, since it’s much easier to insert relevant pictures in the mind map), use them as your computer’s wallpaper. It’s amazing how much you’ll learn!

In the next installment, we will take a deeper look at how to use Mind Mapping for learning another language.