How to Make a Great Presentation: Mapping Your Content

Filed Under Mindjet

Michael Deutch

February 24, 2009

Making a great presentation isn’t as easy as it sounds…
have you noticed?

I’ve recently changed my role at Mindjet to be the official evangelist. What does that mean? All of a sudden, I became a professional communicator! Blogging, writing articles and…making presentations! I’m giving many presentations these days…on the web, podcasts, conference calls, and live events.  I’ll be using this blog not only as communication medium for Mindjet but also a crucible to test out, discuss (with YOU via comments) and share winning strategies to become a more productive worker and effective communicator…in both work and life.

So, back to making great presentations…There are a lot of factors to consider…from research to design, organization to delivery. But no matter how great the delivery is, or how beautiful the map turns out, if the presentation isn’t built on solid content, it will be difficult, if not impossible to succeed. The content is the foundation that you can build upon to tell a winning story that connects you with your audience.

Regarding content and telling great stories, here are a few questions I’m now finding myself asking:

  • How do I know what content to use?
  • How much is the right amount of information for the presentation?
  • What’s relevant to the audience?
  • What extraneous bits can be left on the cutting room floor?


Mapping Out Your Story

The following map template has been inspired by Cliff Atkinson’s book, Beyond Bullet Points. Cliff teaches us, through his book and web sites, how we can change the world by making great presentations! I’ve created a presentation map outline that can help develop a story for 5, 15, or even 45 minute presentations.

Download map     Try MindManager

Do you have any presentation map templates or tips to share?

About the Author: Michael Deutch is Mindjet’s Chief Evangelist, content contributor for the Mindjet Blog and the Mindjet Connections newsletter. Get more from Michael on Twitter.

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3 Responses to “How to Make a Great Presentation: Mapping Your Content”

  1. presentation skills training

    I think some people are missing the point, this is a great tool for creating an interesting presentation that flows, it is not necessarily for the audience to use but for the speaker/presenter.

  2. Michael Deutch


    That’s definitely one approach. It should depend upon how familiar your audience is with mapping too. I’ve witnessed clicking around the map causing confusion.

    However, to your point, I recall a government contractor’s comment about briefing the secretary of defense. Paraphrasing: “There’s no other tool I’d rather for presenting to the secretary of defense. You have two minutes and nothing else provides the big picture like MindManager and the ability to drill into details if any questions come up.”

  3. Brad Jolly

    Mr. Deutch, I’ve found that one of the cool things about MindManager is that you can answer the four questions you listed above as you’re giving the presentation, simply by expanding (or not expanding) the + icon next to a header topic.

    Specifically, here is how I would answer your four questions:

    * How do I know what content to use?
    By learning about your audience ahead of time and by gauging the feedback from the audience as you give the presentation. Include all of the content in your presentation, but only open those parts that are relevant at “run-time.”

    * How much is the right amount of information for the presentation?
    This will vary with the audience. With MindManager, I can use one presentation for multiple audiences, going into various levels of depth for various groups. For example, I recently used the same map to talk with a group of principals and a group of teachers. The two groups had different interests, but I was able to use one map.

    * What’s relevant to the audience?
    Try to find out before you give the presentation, but be prepared for surprises. With MindManager, it’s easy to deal with surprises, as opposed to slide show software.

    * What extraneous bits can be left on the cutting room floor?
    Who says they need to be? One person’s extraneity may be another’s area of focus. If you organize your mind map well, you can quickly find seemingly extraneous bits of information if it turns out that your audience is interested.