Mind Mapping “AWESOME”

It bugs me when I see the same message posted or tweeted over and over again on a friend’s social media site because they have associated all the sites together. As a result, I’ve mind mapped my social media tweets and post to ensure I don’t spam my followers.

The concept of mind mapping was not new, but I had never mapped out a speech and this was going to be a new experience.

After my presentation at TEDxNaperville, I was warmly greeted by Wes Douglas. Wes was the scribe who mind mapped last year’s TEDxNaperville. We talked about the challenge of mapping information so quickly. Each presentation was only eighteen minutes in length and what we saw and heard at dress rehearsal sometimes didn’t make to the TEDx stage.


We both worked in a sound proof room that had speakers and a window facing the stage, thereby giving a firsthand view of the stage. Working in a sound proof room is a luxury when you’re squeaking and popping balloons.


My challenge was time. I searched for key elements in the speaker’s presentation. My mind would race on how to produce an object that represented the speaker’s words. Thirty years of experience being challenged by kids made this process easier, but it wasn’t like the simple task of a Ninja Turtle, or a Skylander character. These ideas were deep, creative, and difficult to capture in a balloon design. There were times during the presentation when I envied Wes, because drawing a wheel chair was faster than trying to build one out of balloons.

15597094470_0a15fd78f3_zMind mapping with balloons is about thinking in 3D. What word, phrase, or image can you associate with the word “disability”, let alone disabilities that were mental disabilities? If I was scribing the word I may have drawn a picture of a brain, with the word “disability” written inside the picture. Yet if I tried this with balloons it would look more like a gray balloon tied in a knot, which would more closely resemble lower intestines than a brain.

For Randy Lewis’ talk, “Why I Hired a Workforce No One Else Would”, Lewis talked about how Walgreens implemented a program to work with people with disabilities. The first thought that came to mind was “wheelchair” when I heard the word disability. I had never designed a wheelchair out of balloons, but I did.

Challenges like this seem to happen with every speech. Each challenge was unique and had me playing a word association game, or brainstorming ideas out loud. Another great reason to have put me in a sound proof room! Ideas were being tossed around and comments like “What did they just say?” were uttered over the squeaking of balloons.

It was nice to talk with Wes who had similar experience of mind mapping a TEDxNaprville. However, I could not let Wes disappear into the crowd without asking him to mind map my presentation. So I was ecstatic when I saw Wes’ mind map of my “AWESOME” balloon sculpture.


I love that my work brings me in touch with others who have passion, drive, and creativity.

Leave a Comment