Are you stuck? Is trying to figure out your speech topic for your ice breaker speech so hard that you’re ready to give up and talk about your dog? The solution may be to use a mind map. Mind mapping is a technique to lay out your ideas in a mostly graphic form without any regard to conventional outlines or index cards. Mind mapping your speech can also help with your presentation down the road.
Who doesn’t want that?
What is mind mapping?
You may have run into mind mapping in other classes. Essentially, it’s just letting your brain do whatever your brain does and capturing it on paper – with or without words.
1. Start with a blank piece of paper. Turn it to landscape instead of portrait position.
Put your pencil in the middle of the page and draw something that you may want to talk about.
Because there are a couple of restricted topics in this class – remember those? – let’s say you pick your current plans for a career. That’s a pretty good topic for an ice breaker. We’ll get to know you with that in mind.
Instead of writing “snowplow repair specialist” or whatever you want to be, draw a picture of it. Use all the colors you want. This picture doesn’t have to be very good, nor does it need to be perfect. All you want is a picture that says to you what your idea is. If your goal is to be a “professional flower catcher for an Olympic ice skater” then all you need is a rough sketch of a pair of skates. And flowers.
2. Start to think about the various aspects of that job. What training will you need to be a qualified calendar-page counter? Will you need an advanced degree to research string theory and black holes? What kind? Do you know?
This is not the time to do the research on your future college plans. Just make a little note that says “PhD?” and move on to the next thought, which may be “Will I get to name a subatomic particle and will I name it after my pet iguana?” Draw your pet and write its name down (and maybe keep this paper for future reference.)
3. As you make notes on the page, you’ll start to see things that relate to each other. Your education plans will start to take over one corner of the page, so move to the next corner and think about what your life would be if this were your career. Snowplow repair specialists are not likely to live in Hawaii, after all. Where would you live? What kind of demand is there for a professional flower catcher and would you need a second job? What might it be?
Let’s move to another corner and imagine what success in that field might look like? Professional calendar-page counters might qualify for Nobel Prize – let’s think about getting prepared for that. What would you say in your acceptance speech?
The primary purpose of mind mapping isn’t to be logical. It’s not to be a great artist or to be able to put things in a logical order. Mind mapping is a tool to help you get out of your own way. It calls on the artistic as well as the logical part of your brain. That’s why using a variety of colors and pictures is more important that using sentences and punctuation.
Mind mapping your speech
After you’ve doodled all over your page, it may be time for your to doodle your speech. Take another piece of paper and try to group things together in how you’d organize your speech. This will help you figure out what your conclusion will be. Continue to use colors and pictures instead of words.
I’m sure there are some of you who want to want to use a computer to do this. Try to resist that temptation, regardless of how cool those online mind mapping websites and programs look. This is one time that using your hands will help you far more than an organized graphic program. You want to be a bit wild, a bit creative – and a whole lot messy. If you do a search for images of mind maps, you’ll see the layout formats are all very neat and precise, but the best mind maps are all hand-drawn.
As you organize your ideas into a new mind map, you may discover that you can remember your points quicker without referring back to the original mind map. Crazy, hunh? Nope! Your brain processes images faster and better than words. A picture is worth a thousand words, right? In this case, using pictures to help you remember the structure of your speech is using a tool that works like your brain works.
As you organize your speech, it’s time to do the research that you need.
Ice breaker research?
The whole purpose of the ice breaker speech is that you don’t have to do much research. It’s your life. You know your stories. Let’s try to keep the speech to focus on you – not on your research into string theory. I won’t understand it anyway. I want to know about you.
Prepping your notes with pictures
Some of you may be thinking that you want to bring up an outline or note cards to help you remember your speech points.
That’s fine. If you want to do that, there is no penalty in your grade. You’ll have to figure out what to do with them if you don’t want to hold them because there is NO LECTERN in this class.
If you’re one of those people who tremble when you give a speech, then you need to consider your options. Use stiff note cards instead of printer paper – we won’t hear it rattle as much. Don’t write too much on the cards and keep the prompts simple. You can’t read from your notes. I know you might want to. It may be hard not to! But if you use pictures instead of words, you won’t be able to read and instead, you’ll tell us what you want to say in a more natural way.
A better solution is to practice your speech as many times as you can. Say it out loud at least ten times. Think about how you want to move your hands and your stage position as you give the speech while you give it. Stop and start and make some notes on a page. If you want – and this is optional but a really good idea – ask someone to watch you give the speech. Give them some idea of what you want them to watch for – do you flap your hands around? Do you pace across the stage? What works?
As you practice, you may start remembering your speech so well that you don’t need the note cards at all. That’s a good thing. You free up your hands for better gestures. Is this memorization or just gaining intentional familiarity with your speech? Well… um*… yes. It’s both. As you be come more comfortable with what you want to say, you will find yourself memorizing parts of it. That’s ok. It’s normal and it will help you during your presentation.
Should you memorize your speech? Maybe. That’s up to you. Usually, it’s hard to be very natural when you memorize your speech, but it can be done. Lots of people memorize their speeches. Next week’s homework assignment is to watch a speech by Andrea Ambam (the link is in the syllabus). She was a high school senior when she gave that speech – and you better believe she had it memorized. Do you think she looked stiff or unnatural? I don’t! I thought she was fantastic. So did her judges – she won the US National Speech and Debate Original Oratory speech competition in 2014.
*You did ring the bell right there, didn’t you?