Lead a brainstorming session with a Visio 2002 Mind Mapping diagram

Applies to
Microsoft Visio® 2002

Searching for a simple way to lead your team through a brainstorming session? Need to explore ideas freely in a way that allows you to pursue trains of thought while creating a record for reference later? In Visio 2002, you can create a Mind Mapping diagram to lead your team through associative thinking exercises and arrive at your best ideas and plans.

Mind Mapping diagram

Mind mapping is a technique for associative thinking that was defined in the early 1970s by Tony Buzan, a British academic and writer.

Starting your brainstorming session

Before you begin your brainstorming session, you may want to brief the members of your team on what you are brainstorming about. Remind them of the goal of your project, factors that affect the project, resources available to you, or constraints that you face. As you introduce the goal, begin creating the mind map in Visio.

To create a mind map in Visio

  1. In Visio, on the File menu, point to New, point to Flowchart, and then click Mind Mapping Diagram.
  2. From the Mind Mapping Diagram Shapes stencil, drag the Central theme shape onto the drawing page.
  3. You can replace the Central theme text with your own text by double-clicking the words and entering the theme of your brainstorming session.

Developing your mind map

As your team comes up with ideas, record the thought process on branches of your mind map. Use Inner branch shapes to create first- and second-tier branches that capture main thoughts and ideas. Use Outer branch shapes to create third- and fourth-tier branches for details.

To create branch shapes

  1. From the Mind Mapping Diagram Shapes stencil, drag Inner branch shapes onto the mind map.
  2. Drag the begin point of an Inner branch to a connection point on the Central theme. When the begin point turns red, the shapes are connected.
  3. With the Inner branch selected, type a keyword for the idea that the branch represents.

As your ideas develop, you may want to create secondary branches from your main ideas. To create second-tier branches, drag a Second tier line shape from the stencil to the first-tier line so that it connects, and type a keyword for the idea that the branch represents. Or, to save time, the inner branch shape has a yellow diamond that you can drag to create a second tier line, too.

You can add Outer branch shapes and third- and fourth-tier branches the same way.

Reviewing your mind map

As your ideas develop, you'll probably see associations, connections, and links between your ideas. You may also want to record your reactions, or factors that affect the ideas.

Grouping ideas

You can show groupings among ideas on your mind map with clouds, or you can show links and connections with arrows and curves. To add clouds or shapes that represent links, you can use the Mind Mapping Diagram Shapes stencil. You can also add shapes and symbols to represent concepts or to record your team's reaction to ideas.

Here are some examples of diagram shapes and the way that you could use them:

Diagram shape Use to show
Mind map cloud icon Groupings among ideas.
Mind map arrow icon Links between ideas, concepts, or actions.
Mind map question mark icon Uncertainty or need for further research.
Mind map dollar sign icon Costs involved.
Mind map smiling face icon Popularity of idea or positive reaction.
Mind map frowning face icon Negative reaction.
Mind map scales icon Need for a decision.

You may also want to change the transparency of a cloud or other shapes so that you can see the text behind it. To make a shape transparent, click Format, and then click Fill, move the Transparency slider to 100%, and then click OK.

Adding keywords

You can record ideas or reactions to ideas with additional text or images.

To add additional text to the mind map, drag the Auto-size box shape from the Mind Mapping Diagram Shapes stencil to the drawing area, position it as needed, and type while the box is selected. You can add or adjust a pointer from the box to a location on the mind map by clicking the shape and dragging the box's yellow control handle.

You can also add symbols, such as question marks, dollar signs, smiling faces, frowning faces, light bulbs, lightning bolts, and scales in the same way.

Finishing touches

When your team is finished brainstorming and is ready to wrap up the session, you can polish off the diagram with a few final details, such as borders, titles, notes, and a background.

  • Border     A border puts a frame around your mind map, and some borders allow you to add a title and a date. To add a border, click the Borders and Titles stencil, and then drag the border from the stencil to your mind map.
  • Title box     You can add a title for your brainstorming session.
  • Notes    Note shapes can also be added (from the Borders and Titles stencil).
  • Backgrounds     Change the overall appearance by replacing the blank grid background with one that is more stylized. To change the background, click the Backgrounds stencil, drag a Background to your mind map, and then click Yes. To change the background back to blank, use Background None.

Save as a Web page or send to others

When your team has finished creating your mind map, you can send the mind map to the members of your team or to others for review, or you can save it as a Web page and publish it to your team's SharePoint® Team Services site or intranet site.

To send the mind map for review

  1. On the File menu, point to Send To.
  2. Click Mail Recipient (as Attachment).
  3. An e-mail message will automatically be generated with the mind map attached and the name of the mind map in the subject line. Add the e-mail addresses for the members of your team or your reviewers, and click Send.

To save as a Web page

  1. On the File menu, click Save as Web Page.
  2. Enter a file name, and click Save.
  3. An HTML (.htm file) version of your mind map will automatically be opened in an instance of your Web browser.

About the origin of mind maps

You can learn more about the technique and theory behind mind mapping at the Buzan Centres Web site.