Mind mapping is a technique popularized by Tony Buzan. It is a graphical method of taking down notes1 wherein diagrams are used for the representation of things like concepts, words and activities. It can be used for a variety of things but most of the time applicable to studying, researching, planning, organizing and solving problems. In relation to speed reading, mind mapping helps the reader make associations faster for better understanding and recall of the reading material and its ideas. It contributes mostly to faster comprehension in speed reading.
A mind map is simple to create and is fun to do. Even if you are a beginner at mind mapping, you won’t have a hard time drawing one. The most basic parts are the main idea and sub-ideas. These can be presented in a radial, graphical or non-linear manner1and a plain paper or a Word document can be utilized. Colors, symbols, and labels enhance the mind maps and these help a lot in better recall too. Many software are now coming out to help draw mind maps but drawing with the hands are still the most effective and efficient way especially when it comes to remembering ideas. Mind map templates are also readily available online if you need reinforcement in creating your own.
Mind mapping complements speed reading in many ways. It trains the mind to keep the pace of the flow of thoughts and to note keywords. It also helps fill in the gaps which happens in speed reading because of the need to skip reading some words.2
To incorporate mind mapping in your speed reading, do these following steps:
Get a reading material which you are not familiar with. It may be a soft copy which you have downloaded on your computer or a hard copy which you have handy already. The important thing is that it is on hand. Write or type the title of the book at the center of the paper, either the center of a blank Word document with a text box or a piece of traditional paper wherein you can draw a circle or square in the middle of it.
If you did this in MS Word or other similar software, after entering the title on the page, close it fast. The point is to read the entire title in just a short span of time. If you did this on traditional paper, then remove the paper from your sight immediately after writing the title down.
Open another blank document or get a new sheet of paper and now write or type again the title of the reading material – article or book – without looking at the first document or paper where you have written the title first. Look at what you have written down again and check if it is accurate. If not then enter the title again and close the page fast again.
Repeat this until you get better at recalling the title in a short period of time.
When you have made progress with this, you may move to the next level which entails you to remember more information. Add two boxes or circles on your paper connecting it with lines to the title in the center. Then copy a sentence from the article or page of the book. Divide the sentence in two phrases and write each phrase inside the boxes. Now try to read the phrases like it is just one word.
In order to check your recall and understanding of what you have read, either, say it out loud and explain it in your own words to yourself or to someone else. Or write it on another blank paper in your own words. Then check the article to see if you remembered and understood correctly.
Continue practicing this and adding boxes or circles in your diagram as you go through reading the article or book. Not only are you training your eyes to capture more words immediately but you are also training your mind to understand and get ideas or thoughts faster.