Thursday, 20 December 2012

Powerful Outline Review Tool in MindView 5.0

Creating documents using mind mapping software is a great way of developing traditional, 'sequential flow' documents whilst enjoying many of the benefits of mind maps.

Typically the main ideas are refined to form the headings and sub-headings and moved around the map to arrive at an appropriate structure or flow.

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The ideas encapsulated by the headings are then described more fully and this body text may be added and developed as notes to each heading or sub-heading.

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When the time comes to review progress or a complete draft, the usual map view is a great for checking the key ideas, the headings, structure and flow.

Using the outline view mode will help you envisage the structure of the finished, 'sequential' document as it might look on the page.

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Most mapping software will also let you review the notes in this mode, although nearly all are constrained to only display one 'note' at a time - that belonging to whichever topic or branch heading you have selected. It can be difficult to see all of your text - headings and notes - in one view without having to navigate the topics one by one.

A new feature of MindView 5.0 Outline View is the 'Show Text Notes' button, found on the 'Outline Tools' tab.

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When in Outline View, clicking this button will display all the notes included in the map, each note underneath the topic to which it belongs.  This gives a unique view of the content of the map. 

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This is great for reviewing progress on the document or for checking the final draft.  You can see all the content in one go, displayed in the same sequential flow it will take in the finished document when the map is exported to Word.

You can even edit a note from this view and cut and paste between notes.

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MindView 4 Mind Mapping SoftwareMatchWare have recently released version 5.0 of MindView.  To see what is new in the latest Business Edition click here to visit the MatchWare web site.

Monday, 10 December 2012

Creating Documents with MindView

As noted in previous posts, mind mapping software is great for creating documents. Why not use the software to not only assemble ideas in preparation for writing a finished document but to go on and draft the document (contents and structure).

This post summarises an approach to document creation using MindView 5.0 and how to preview the document prior to exporting to Word.

First begin by collecting ideas and notes in MindView, creating topics as and when ideas form. Don't be too concerned about structure and the hierarchy of topics to Word Styles at this stage

Reorganise the notes, grouping them under Level 1 Topics that will form the major sections of the document.  These will map to the 'Heading 1' Style in Word

Create and maintain Level 2 Topics that will form sub-headings under each Level 1 Topic.  These will map to the 'Heading 2' Style in Word

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Add further levels of sub-heading if required. Assemble the topics containing the main text under the headings, use drag 'n' drop. Add and edit the text.

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Any branches that form the body text of the document (i.e. branches that are not section headings) may now be converted to Notes.

MindView maps Notes to the 'Normal' Word style however it retains and exports the formatting applied to the Notes text, either by the MindView defaults or any formatting you apply. Before creating any Notes, set the 'Default Font' for the Notes text editor by selecting 'File > MindView Options > Preferences' and editing 'Default Font' under the 'Note Text editor' section.

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Then cut the topics containing the text and paste as Notes to Topics/Headings at the appropriate level. Edit the resulting Notes, add further text.

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Don't add any Font formatting to the Notes unless you want to highlight a particular piece of text in some way. If you want Numbered or Bulleted lists use the MindView formatting options within the Notes editor pane.

Review the document content, continue adding ideas and text.

Review the structure and order.  Re-order Heading Topics, insert new ones.

Now it may be time to preview what you have created. Select 'Outline' mode from the 'Home' tab in the ribbon. To include your body text in the Outline view, click the 'Select Text Notes' button on the ribbon.

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Review the structure and content - get a feel for what the finished document might look like and how it might flow down the page.

Edit or add text from with the 'Outline' view or switch back to 'MapView' to do this.

Add a Numbering Scheme to map or outline to review how the section headings might appear and be numbered.

Go to Word and open the template you wish to use.  Review the Styles in the template, especially the 'Heading' styles and the 'Normal' style.  Review styles that are 'based' on the 'Heading 1', 'Heading 2' and so on.  Save the Word template and note the name you save it as.

Select the Export Option, then the 'Advanced Word Export' option.

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Select the preferred template, inclusions and attached objects.

Click 'Export' and add a file name and select save.

Review the resulting Word document.

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Final Word

If you like to create documents using MindView before moving to Word this is a great way of doing it.

A little time spent refining and understanding the Word template will save time when it comes to export

The only real constraint of this approach is that to achieve consistent results you must edit and organise your mind map into the strict hierarchical structure of Headings that will most directly map to the Word hierarchy of styles.

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MindView 4 Mind Mapping SoftwareMatchWare have recently released version 5.0 of MindView.  To see what is new in the latest Business Edition click here to visit the MatchWare web site.

Friday, 23 November 2012

Creating Documents with Mind Mapping Software

I'm giving at short session at the Biggerplate Unplugged event in London in January 2013, called 'Creating Documents with Mind Mapping Software'. 

In what is billed as a '10 Minute Lightning Session' I hope to get across the benefits of an approach that uses the software to the full to create and structure complete documents ready for export to word processors.

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If you are interested in gaining some insight into what I will be covering, why not review some of the posts on this blog?  Try this link to bring all the posts together in one view:  http://vismap.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/MS%20Word

The Biggerplate Event is to be held in London on Thursday, January 31, 2013 from 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM (GMT).  For more details see: http://biggerplatelondon.eventbrite.com/

Hope to see you there.

Thursday, 5 July 2012

Effective Meetings - Keeping a Record

Having planned and run an effective meeting you will want to ensure it's continued effectiveness. Keeping a record of the meeting will help should anything need to be revisited or if actions are to be followed up. Mind mapping software is particularly good at this.

The key topics to record will include:

Record of Meeting - Template 1

'Planning and Goals' may include:

Record of Meeting -  planning

'Outputs and Outcomes' may include:

Record of Meeting - outputs

You can create the map from a template prior to the meeting and document items such as purpose and agenda. You can add the attendees as resources, ready to assign to key topics. Also include attachments or links to key documents, briefing papers, background information or data.

Record of Meeting - Planning examples

You will want to assign attendee names to the issues they raised, the actions agreed upon. You will want to record who made which decisions. With mind mapping software you can do this easily by adding the attendees as resources and then tagging topics with the appropriate resources.

Record of Meeting - outputs with res

Tagging items with resource markers also lets you organise or filter the map according to contribution or responsibility.  Here a 'Resource Map' has been created from the main meeting record and then the map focus has been placed on Attendee3.

 Outputs and Outcomes - by Resource

Mind mapping software lets you categorise topics using icons or markers. In addition to providing a visual cue, using category icons let's you filter and analyse the meeting notes. For instance, you might want to focus on just the decisions.

Record of Meeting - filter

You can distribute the meeting record as a map, as a PDF or export it to Word.

Record of meeting - Word

The MindGenius template used in this post is available to download from Biggerplate as 'Record of Meeting - Template'. The map can also be found in the Planning Effective Meetings Group at Biggerplate.

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If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Thursday, 28 June 2012

Planning Effective Meetings - Ask Yourself ....

The success of any meeting you hold will depend largely on your preparation. In the heat of the moment it is very easy to call a meeting, get everyone together and then stumble through some unproductive conversation - a case perhaps.of 'Ready, Fire ....Aim'.

Even a few minutes spent considering what the meeting is about will help deliver an better outcome and greater satisfaction for those involved.  It is helpful to run through a few questions to help shape your approach.

First consider the purpose, attendees, expectations and ideas that need to be discussed.

Before the Meeting Ask Yourself

Then consider what style the meeting will take ... a consultation, a directive or something else?  How ill decisions be made ... a group vote or an executive decision?

Before the Meeting Ask Yourself 2

How will the key findings of the meeting be recorded and what do you anticipate the actions might be?

Before the Meeting Ask Yourself 3

Having thought through these questions it is always worth asking yourself, 'Do I still need a meeting?'.  The thinking you've just done may give you the answer you were seeking.

Before the Meeting Ask Yourself 4

These questions are available as a simple MindGenius map that you can use as a planning template.  The map also contains a planning worksheet that you can edit or print and use to make notes on. 

It is available from Biggerplate at Before the Meeting, Ask Yourself ....  The map can also be found in the Planning Effective Meetings Group at Biggerplate.  The group also has a MindManager version of the map.

Before the Meeting Ask Yourself 5

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If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Monday, 18 June 2012

Running Effective Meetings

Running an effective meeting depends largely on two things:

  • What you do before the meeting
  • What you do at the very start of the meeting.

If you get these right, and you have invited the right participants, the meeting is more likely to achieve your purpose.

The last few minutes of the meeting should be used to consolidate and reinforce the achievements.

Four Key Steps

Running Effective Meetings 1

Running Effective Meetings 2

Running Effective Meetings 3

Running Effective Meetings 4

What is Your Role?

So, if you are calling a meeting, think about your role:

  • Before the meeting
  • At the start of the meeting
  • During the meeting ..... and ...
  • At the end of the meeting.

At each step, what will you do and what will you say?

A MindGenius map containing the above points is available at Biggerplate.  For this and other maps on effective meetings see the 'Planning Effective Meetings' Group.

Running Effective Meetings 5

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If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Monday, 28 May 2012

Planning Effective Meetings with MindGenius

Even a Simple Plan is Better than No Plan

Planning a meeting can take as little time as just a few minutes. The return on investment will be time saved and objectives achieved.  The steps to follow are quite simple:

  • What's the purpose - what must be achieved?
  • Who needs to be at the meeting?
  • What ideas need to be discussed?
  • What will be the style of the meeting?

Once you've considered these questions you are ready to formulate your agenda.

Planning a Meeting Using a Mapping Tool

Mapping tools can help you work through the process and produce a finished meeting plan ready for circulation. The example that follows uses MindGenius.

First, jot down the purpose and key ideas.

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - purpose ideas

Next open a new map and use the Brainstorm feature to identify the discussion subjects (click on the image to see an enlarged view).  If you want, consult others for their ideas and add them to the map.

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Categorise the ideas (in this example: Quick; Major; Minor) and create a category centric map to provide the basis of the agenda.

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Add timings (here I've used the 'Resources' feature to create labels for '10 mins'; 20 mins' and so on). Top and tail the agenda items with an introduction and a meeting close (click on the image to see an enlarged view).

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - time

Use cut and paste to combine the agenda items with the meeting purpose and ideas. Add notes for any materials, papers or data that might be needed (click on the image to see an enlarged view).

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - final

When you are ready send the agenda map to the attendees (as a map file, PDF or a Word version created by exporting the map).

Agenda Items for Team Meeting - word

For more on planning effective meetings click on the 'meetings' tab below or visit the 'Effective Meetings' group at Biggerplate.

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If you would like to know more about MindGenius, do visit the web site and try the product free for 30 days.

Should you decide to buy MindGenius, Peace of Mind Blog can offer a 10% discount.  Just use the discount code at the checkout on the MindGenius web site or quote the code in any correspondence with MindGenius.

To claim the 10% discount please use the code:  MGELST

Monday, 21 May 2012

Sharing Word Templates

Introduction

If you use more than one PC or work with a group of people, you might want to share a common set of Word templates.

If you are all connected via a LAN the administrator can configure Word when it is installed to look for the common templates in a specified folder. But what do you do if you are not connected to a LAN?

You can still share templates (and indeed any kind of file) using the Internet file sharing tools such as Dropbox and SugarSync.

Note: I have used Word 2007 in this description - to access the options and locations may vary for Word 2010 or earlier versions of Word.

Word Templates Folder

When Word is installed it creates a folder to store templates deep within the file structure of your PC. The path to this folder is usually something like: C:\Documents and Settings\Steve\Application Data\Microsoft\Templates

Word defines this location as being trusted and adds a 'Trusted Templates' link to the Office Button>Open and Office Button>Save as dialogues. This makes it easy to store new templates you create and to find them later.

When you create a new document using the Office Button>New dialogue, Word opens a screen that allows you to select from a range of templates. You can access your own templates from here, by clicking on the 'My Templates' link in the left hand column.

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This opens a new window, displaying the list of available templates in the default Word folder created upon installation and described above (this is the 'Trusted Templates' folder).

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Creating a Shared Area

To share your templates with your other PCs or colleagues using an Internet file sharing application is straightforward.

First create the shared folder that will hold the templates. In this example I'm using SugarSync to synchronise folders between my computers, so I create a folder - 'My Word Templates' - within the Magic Briefcase folder (the Magic Briefcase folder is automatically shared and kept up to date across all PCs you choose to synchronise).

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Next, move the templates to be shared from the default Word location into this new folder within the Magic Briefcase.

Pointing Word at the Shared Folder

Word uses 'File Location' details to set defaults for storing and accessing files including templates. There are two locations for templates:

  • 'User Templates' - which is where 'My Templates' and 'Trusted Templates' look for templates
  • 'Workgroup Templates' - used by network administrators to store shared, common templates on a LAN.

We'll use 'Workgroup Templates' to point to our new shared folder to access the templates we want to share.

From Word Options select Advanced, scroll down to the 'General' section, click on 'File Locations'.

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If you are using this for the first time on your own PC, the location for 'Workgroup Templates' will normally be blank. Highlight 'Workgroup Templates' and click 'Modify'

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Use the file dialogue to navigate to the shared folder within Magic Briefcase, highlight the folder (in this case 'My Word Templates') and click OK.

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Returning to the 'File Locations' window you will see that 'Workgroup Templates' is now pointing at the shared folder.

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Now, whenever you want to create a new document using one of the shared templates, go to the 'New' dialogue and click on 'My Templates'. 'My Templates' will now display all the templates stored in both the 'User Templates' and 'Workgroup Templates' folders, the latter location being where the shared templates are held.

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You can also access the folder directly from the 'Open' and 'Save' dialogues by adding it as an item to the 'My Places' bar.

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To find out how to add folders in this way, see this Microsoft article: 'How to customize the My Places bar in both the Open and the Save As dialog boxes in Office'.

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If you would like to know more about SugarSync and the Magic Briefcase please click here to be taken to the SugarSync web site.

SugarSync: Sync your life. Access, sync, and share all your files from any device.