How to turn mind maps into eBooks and presentations instantly

Geoff Livingston was blogging this morning about building out strategy using mind maps and storyboarding, and I mentioned that mind maps are an incredible way to get any project up and running. Let’s look at two examples of how to transform this into real, useful stuff.

First, let’s start with a mind map. Take your pick of software – I use Mindnode on the Mac, but there are literally dozens of different packages. The key is this: whatever software you use must be able to export industry-standard export formats of outlines. The two key formats you’re looking for are OPML and RTF outline. Make your mind map until you’re happy with it. Here’s our example:

Outlining something really fast.mindnode

Now we dump this into an RTF outline to start.

MindNode Pro

For good measure, repeat the process as an OPML outline.

Let’s think about our eBook first. As you know, I’m a huge fan of Scrivener. Let’s take our mind map now and import the OPML file version:


Now you’re ready to write, with each branch of your mind map a document inside Scrivener:

Outlining something really fast - Strategy

If you’ve ever wondered how I outline stuff so fast, this is the method. But wait, there’s more! Let’s say you’ve got a mind map that’s also going to be the basis of a webinar presentation. (that in itself is a secret – start with one map and build 2 different pieces of content from it) Let’s take our RTF export that we did and visit our old friend Powerpoint:


Instant presentation. You’ve got all of your slides laid out exactly as you mind mapped them, and you’re ready to begin fleshing them out into a solid presentation. If you use Keynote for the Mac, you’ve got an intermediary step – using OmniOutliner (which probably shipped with your Mac), you’ll need to import the OPML file from earlier and export to Keynote directly from OmniOutliner.

If you’re a PC user, Scrivener for Windows does exist and performs the same functions, and of course, Powerpoint is the standard. All you’d need is a mind mapping package for the PC that exports OPML and RTF.

The power of mind maps to help you develop content in a non-linear fashion is incredible. With these simple methods, you can then take your maps and build content rapidly and robustly using your favorite writing and presenting packages. Take this method and see how many other uses you can find for it!

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  • Mind maps for me were a total revelation on a par with discovering the power of mastermind groups. There’s so much gold in them thar hills – it’s just a shame most people need a map simply to find the hills…

  • Quite useful for someone like me.
    I tend to have wandering thoughts and mind mapping or pictures is easier for me to string thoughts together with than working down a blog post or presentation from top to bottom.

  • I see your note about building two sets of content in Scrivener from one outline — is there a way to make that link updatable (Is that a word? It is now.)

    So for example, if I’m building a single-source document, would I be able to push changes in the original mind map to the existing content? Or would that create a new set of content? I suppose that depends on the software I’m using, but have you come across anything like that in your experience? 

    Will Scrivener do anything like that? 

    Thank you, very interesting!

  • Dan Shaurette

    A fine article, however, I should point out that for us Windows users, Scrivener does not (yet) import OPML. So, the best we can do is import an RTF of an outline. Which, is better than staring at a blank screen I suppose, but is not as useful as being able to import a full outline that makes scrivenings automatically.

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