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Guest Post – Managing Content w/ a Dashboard Pt. 5 – Events

In previous installments of this series, I shared the MindManager maps I used to create a Content Dashboard that helps me manage blogs posts, track client projects, and write more efficiently.

Now, I’d like to share some of the maps I use to plan and create special events like interviews, podcasts, teleseminars, and workshops.

The starting point


As always, the starting point remains the same; above is the Content Dashboard that automatically opens in the morning when I load MindManager, and is closed when I leave the office. The above example shows an expanded view of the Events topic.

From the maps linked through the Events topic, I can quickly view the status of my various categories of events and easily access the mind map templates I need to plan each event.

Planning my interviews


Teleseminars were the first events to benefit from my discovery of mind mapping and MindManager several years ago. I’ve been doing weekly teleseminar interviews with authors and marketing experts for over 10 years.

Originally, the primary benefit I enjoyed from using MindManager was the ability to quickly plan the questions for each call, then- -during the call- -to use each mind map as a guide for presenting each teleseminar. Above is the latest iteration of my teleseminar question planner.

From the start, my template benefited me in 3 major ways:

  1. Saving time. My teleseminar planning map saved me great amounts of time coming up with the questions for each interview. Within a short time, I was able to create a tightly-crafted set of questions for a 1-hour teleseminar in approximately 30-minutes. Since I often conduct two teleseminar interviews a week, the time savings quickly added up.
  2. Guest comments. One of the networking benefits of my teleseminar planning map was the unsolicited compliments I received from my guests upon receiving a PDF of the questions for their upcoming interview. I’ve interviewed over 500 marketing experts and best-selling authors, and most immediately praise the format of my questions.
  3. Interview momentum. From the start, I began to receive compliments on the quality of my calls, and the way I was able to quickly establish momentum. The reason, of course, is that I present my calls from the mind map, and that my “boilerplate” introduction and initial questions establish a rhythm for each call. Having a framework to present from, and pace my questions, was a confidence builder that continues to pay big dividends.

The simplest things often make the biggest difference. For example, in the above example, having a structure for opening and closing each call creates a comfort zone and a consistency, or pattern, which attendees generally appreciate. (Sort of like Dave Letterman’s opening monologue and Top 10 List.)

Likewise, simply organizing my questions into four segments, Background, Segment 1, Segment 2, Segment 3, makes it easier to plan the questions and create a focus for the questions within each segment.

Tracking my interviews

Over the years, however, I’ve found that the benefits of working with MindManager far exceeded simply pre-planning each interview’s questions and using the mind map as a roadmap for each presentation.

As the total number of interviews approached, then exceeded, 500, the need for a system to keep track of the information and resources associated with each interview became more and obvious.


Above is the basic MindManager map I created to track the files and URLs associated with each of my interviews. This information usually includes:

  • Author and book URLs. Often, authors have multiple URLs, a generic ”hub” site, and one, or more, “spoke” sites associated with their books and special events. Author and book URLs was generally authors, their URLs, the questions associated and became a major concern. Each interview generated several files, including:
  • MindManager map of questions for each call. I modified the basic interview template, above, for each call, changing the guest’s introduction and interview-specific questions. During each call, I update the mind map by noting the number of attendees, the questions asked, and new ideas brought up in the author’s answers.
  • Recording of each call. My call-tracking mind map makes it easy to quickly locate the recordings of each call, making it easy to post the recordings online and refer to them in upcoming newsletters or e-books.
  • Miscellaneous files. In many cases, the files associated with interviews include transcriptions, promotional copy, and post-call e-mail or comments from attendees and guests.

MindManager features at work

As I worked with MindManager to track my interviews, I grew to depend on many of its features, including:

  • Find. I’m may be the last one to discover MindManager’s Find (Control + F) feature, tucked to the extreme right of the Home tab. What I like about it is that it not only locates text, i.e., guest names, anywhere on the map, but opens the topics containing the desired information.
  • Notes. MindManager only permits attaching a single link to each topic. However, the Notes feature, (Control + T), permits you to insert as many text links as possible per topic. I use the link associated with each author’s name to access the author’s primary web site. I use text links in the Notes area for links to the recording of each call, the MindManager file associated with each call’s question, and promotional copy associated with each call.
  • Numbering. The numbering feature permits me to keep track of the number of guests in each alphabetical topic. This contributes to tracking the total number of interviews, but requires adding up each category’s total. It would be nice to be able to generate a total for all “sibling” subtopics.
  • Sorting. As you may have noticed from the above example, it’s important to enter the names of new interview guest’s last name first. This makes it easy to use MindManager’s Format>Sort command to alphabetically organize guests within each category.

Note: I added the Sort icon to my MindManager Toolbar, although it would be nice if there was a keyboard shortcut for alphabetically sorting categories.

Lessons learned

Perfection is rare; no system, no matter how much time it saves, or how much quality it adds, is ever finished. Here, to save you some time, are some of the lessons I’ve learned working with my MindManager dashboard for close to a decade.

First mistake. My initial solution was to create separate maps for my Guerrilla Marketing Association interviews and my Published & Profitable interviews. This was my first mistake, one that gets a little harder to solve each month, as new interviews take place and are added.

With guest information spread over two separate maps, I have to look at two maps when searching for guests I’ve interviewed. This becomes difficult when I have interviewed guests for both Published & Profitable and the Guerrilla Marketing Association. Separate maps also makes it difficult to export or share a single, master, updated list of everyone I’ve interviewed.

My “to do” list includes consolidating the maps, perhaps color-coding the entries to indicate whether each interview was a Published & Profitable or Guerrilla Marketing Association event.

Second mistake. A second mistake was not using MindManager’s Text Info feature from Day One to indicate the deadlines for preparing and the scheduled dates of each call. A related mistake was to view my Interview map as strictly a backwards looking, or tracking tool, rather than using it as a planning, scheduling, and time management tool.

Consolidating my maps and taking advantage of the Text Info feature would let me use MindManager’s Filter feature to display just upcoming events. More important, I could use the consolidated map to create a “wish list,” or “to do list,” of interesting guests whom I would like to interview in the future.

Final mistake. Likewise, I didn’t develop, from the start, an easy way to use color, or MindManager’s Resource feature, to classify or organize guests by area of expertise. Right now, I can usually look at a name and know whether they’re a marketing expert, a publishing expert, a psychologist, or a writing coach. However, I can’t sort, or filter, on topics. Partly, of course, such a classification scheme would never be perfect, as the current crop of neuro-psychology-driven books on buying, marketing, and web design proves. Yet, something would be better than nothing.

The big lesson, of course, is to plan for the future, and- -when your current maps are not as robust as they should be- -resist the urge to “limp along” by committing to update your maps as soon as possible. Any suggestions?

Planning and marketing workshops


The final MindManager Content Dashboard that I’d like to share is my Workshop Planner, above, which consolidates all aspects of planning, marketing, and preparing an event on a single map.

As you can see, MindManager maps permit a great amount of information to be included in a single file. Having everything in one place not only helps everyone keep their eye on the information needs of the event attendees, but also reduces chances for miscommunication and missed deadlines.

Similar maps are used for podcasts, speeches, Topic calls, and webinars.

How do you use MindManager Content Dashboards to plan, create, and deliver your events? Do you have any experiences, ideas, questions, or suggestions, you’d like to share as comments, below?

Roger C. Parker invites you to explore the mind mapping resources in his Published & Profitable’s MindManager Resource Center while downloading his 16-page Write Your Way to Success report and subscribing to his daily writing tips blog and following him on Twitter.