How to facilitate a creative mind mapping session in Mural
March 18, 2021
You and your team have LOTS of ideas and the knowledge you need to solve problems... The problem? It's all kind of jumbled in your head... and the heads of your teammates.
Mind mapping is a powerful way to capture, categorize, and connect those ideas with your team. It’s a popular method for exploring angles of a problem and getting into a brainstorm flow of free associations, and it can be used in small groups or independently. I know many MURAL members who use a mind map to organize their upcoming to-do lists and document their own ideas for projects.
But if you’re leading a mind mapping session, here’s how MURAL can help you make it happen. You can either watch this video I made or follow these phase-by-phase directions for facilitating a great brainstorming session with mind maps.
How to quickly prep for a mind mapping brainstorm
First, get familiar with MURAL’s Facilitation Superpowers™ features. I recommend incorporating at least three of these features into your session to ensure your collaborators are focused and productive during the session:
Navigate through an example of a mind map (if it’s a new concept) with the Outline
Manage the timing for each section of your exercise with the built-in Timer
Make sure everyone is seeing the same information when you give instructions and kick off the mapping exercise with Summon
Encourage collaborators to share positive vibes in real time without disrupting any ideation flows with Reactions. Plus, show your own love at the end of a successful brainstorm with Celebrate.
Next, set up your mural for the brainstorm. You can easily get started from a blank mural, but I recommend creating a mural from our latest mind mapping template to save yourself some time. If your collaborators are unfamiliar with the concept of mind maps or new to using MURAL, this template has a visual example and some simple tips to set everyone up for success in no time.
Facilitating a great mind mapping brainstorm
You’ve prepared your mural and invited your collaborators — now, the real magic begins! I like to begin with a 5-10 minute warmup exercise or icebreaker. This gives the group time to build confidence using MURAL before you get into the mind mapping activity. You can also use this time to demonstrate key features they will need to know for the session. Need more ideas? You can use a check-in generator for quick ideas to spark new perspectives.
Next, explain the mind mapping experience. Depending on everyone’s comfort level with MURAL and experience doing mind mapping, I use the Summon feature to gather all collaborators for a quick walkthrough of the purpose of a mind map and how to build one in MURAL.
All of our mapping and diagramming templates have a “tool tips” section on the left side of the canvas so that you can breeze through a tutorial with collaborators. To help the group get into the flow of adding ideas to the mind map, you can show the team how to enable connector points and use shortcuts, like the C+drag shortcut, so they can quickly create connections between concepts.
This is also the time to share some key guidelines for an effective brainstorm:
There are no bad ideas 🙅🏽
Quantity over quality ✏️
Keep an open mind and a non-judgemental attitude 😎
With the housekeeping over, now you should introduce the topic for your mind map. It helps to phrase this as a question during a brainstorm. Let’s say you’re kicking off a web design project. You might ask “Why do people visit our website and apps?” This open-ended question helps the team assess the topic with new angles and perspectives.
Ready… set… mind map!
As a group, identify three to five sub-categories about your main topic. These will be the starting branches for your mind map. Now you’re ready to let the team unleash their ideation powers. Set the timer to add a little bit of a pressure (and avoid making anyone late for their next meeting!) and encourage everyone to start adding ideas and concepts from your main categories. As collaborators add their ideas and concepts, the map will grow outward and change as the team makes these powerful connections.
During this time, collaborators might be quiet as they think about connecting ideas. You can add some music to your session with our Spotify Remote Workshop Playlist.
Once each collaborator has added to the map individually, it’s time to build on the ideas of others and support those connections between branches. Give everyone the chance to walk through their branches and share the key concepts and ideas. Now, start making connections. Encourage everyone to move ideas around on the mural, change colors, and look for patterns. This is also a great opportunity to align the team on priorities for your project or topic. As the group shares out, ask questions to create clarity. In the case of our website design project, we might ask, “Which branch is most important for us to focus on first?”
You should end the session with some new ideas, a fresh perspective on a problem, or clear prioritization of how the group thinks you should move forward. It’s also simple to share out the mural from your session with any stakeholders who couldn’t participate—simply embed it onto a Confluence page, share a link, or export to a PDF to keep everyone in the loop.