This post is about how to prepare engaging presentations using mind mapping to bring forth inherent complexity of a topic. It is meant for professors, research scholars and students. I have taken topic of industrial pollution control as an illustration.
A bit longish deliberation, but I do hope you will find this post interesting and that it will serve the purpose.
Professor was busy in his study on Sunday morning. I saw him sitting on a drawing board with a A2 size paper and color pencils. He seemed so engrossed as he didn’t even notice me.
He was writing on the paper some “keywords” and then connecting them and making some side notes. Sometimes he would pause and do some google search and print few documents or note the URLs.
I did not want to disturb him. In the next fifteen minutes this is what appeared on the paper
Industry – good and services
Pollution – unwanted constituent – adverse change
Control – power to influence, regulate to achieve certain goals
Why are you doing this basic stuff Professor? I asked when I saw him picking up a cup of coffee.
He noticed me.
“Well Dr Modak, I am preparing a “general” presentation on the subject of “industrial pollution control”.
It is good to begin with dissection of each term in the topic. This is often a good start.”
I realized that Professor had used the following definitions. See Box 1
|Box -1 Some Key Definitions on the subject of Industrial Pollution Control|
|What is an industry?
Industry is the production of goods or related services within an economy
What is pollution?
Pollution is the introduction of contaminants into the natural environment that cause adverse change. Contamination is the presence of an unwanted constituent, contaminant or impurity in a material, physical body, natural environment, workplace, etc.
What is control?
Control is largely associated with power and having the power to influence people, decisions or processes. It is an important function because it helps to check the errors and to take the corrective action so that deviation from standards are minimized and stated goals of the organization are achieved in a desired manner.
“Now what Professor?” I could not resist to ask.
“Well, Dr Modak, we now continue asking more questions to ourselves on the subject” said the Professor.
“But we need to describe little bit more about the industry itself i.e. Its classification by size, type and pollution potential. The priorities and strategies change as we deal with different classes of industry. We need a better understanding and so I have prepared a handout”
Oh, so Professor was essentially mapping his thinking. I realized.
“It may be interesting Professor to ask about how can we reduce pollution in the first place. This could be an effective strategy to control pollution. No point to let the pollution happen first and then worry for solution”. I suggested.
“Yes indeed”, Professor agreed. “In early days we did not think “upstream” i.e. production stage itself for minimizing pollution. In fact, pollution prevention was not considered as a strategy for pollution control. Professor pulled out a nice infographics explaining the “evolution” that he had researched from the web – of course improving the figure based on his experience.
“Looks great” I exclaimed. “I am sure you will “plug in” this figure in your presentation slides”
Professor nodded while lighting his cigar. “Yes, I will. But let us continue building this diagram further. By the way, this diagram is called a Mind Map.
“What is a Mind Map Professor?” I asked
A Mind Map is an easy way to brainstorm thoughts that occur naturally without worrying about order and structure. It allows you to visually structure your ideas to help with analysis. A Mind Map is thus an intuitive framework around a central concept. A Mind Map can turn a long list of monotonous information into a colorful and highly organized diagram that works in line with your brain’s natural way of thinking.
Professor invited me to make contribution to the mind map he had started drawing.
I wanted to go further “upstream”
“Professor – what about rethinking about the product itself? And the raw materials used?” I put a question.
“Oh Yes”, said the Professor. “We must bring in both upstream and downstream elements when discussing industrial pollution control. Immediate thinking downstream will be recycling and recovery that the industry must do – extreme thinking being the so called Zero Liquid Discharge (ZLD). But further down, we must account for pollution caused beyond the factory gate covering transportation of products including packaging, pollution during product use and pollution after use i.e. during disposal. We call this as a life cycle approach to understand the problem of pollution – on a holistic basis”
I expanded the mind map further capturing the life cycle consideration with a question in my mind that why should such downstream thinking be discussed in the topic of pollution control.
Professor lit his cigar and took a deep puff. “Well Dr Modak, considering both upstream and downstream perspectives in industrial pollution control is a great idea – but this is something hard to “control” isn’t it? The stakeholders are different in each stage of the life cycle and industry may not have enough information, opportunity to participate and control”.
Hmm – I said and added “Extended Producer Responsibility (EPR)” in the mind map.
The EPR concept was formally introduced in Sweden by my good friend Thomas Lindhqvist in a 1990 report to the Swedish Ministry of the Environment. In subsequent reports prepared for the Ministry, the following definition emerged: “[EPR] is an environmental protection strategy to reach an environmental objective of a decreased total environmental impact of a product, by making the manufacturer of the product responsible for the entire life-cycle of the product and especially for the take-back, recycling and final disposal.
Initially EPR was encouraged but now it is getting legislated in many countries – including in India.
So we were looking at pollution control not just of controlling emissions through stacks or managing effluents draining out of the premises. That itself could be a good point of discussion in Professors presentation – I thought. We were perhaps heading towards the new avatara of industrial pollution control as “responsible manufacturing”.
I thought we should introduce two terms now – 1) benchmarks and good practices and 2) standards
“You are right Dr Modak in pointing out these two terms”, Professor had a lot to say and he elaborated citing some extracts from literature and shared with me a print of key URLs.
Benchmarks tell you where you stand so that you move towards increased resource efficiency and resource recycling to achieve pollution prevention. Standards on emissions bring in the need to come up with technologies that help meet the requirements of compliance to achieve environmental protection. As standards become stricter, costs of compliance increase if you don’t bring in pollution prevention. Best practices provide a guide on how to achieve benchmarks and standards so that the industry is both competitive and compliant. Pollution control is then a logical outcome and not something done solely just because it is mandatory. “Integrated Pollution Control” becomes an opportunity for ecological modernization.
Wow, I said to myself.
We expanded our Mind Map further.
“Remember Dr Modak that we must keep in mind the concept of total overburden and build ecological rucksack in terms of consumption of resources and generation residues across all the media and across all stages of life cycle” Professor spoke slowly but had a lot of emphasis.
I understood that this statement was pretty loaded and deep. Perhaps another Mind Map will be required to capture what Professor was arguing. It introduced the need for circularity that each industry should think about and together with the government and communities. Partnership was important.
The concept of total overburden also highlighted the need to consider not just technology based solutions but hinted the role played by policies e.g. banning, planning measures (like eco-industrial parks), use of economic instruments like taxes and market mechanisms like pollution trading, influencing consumption patterns and promoting innovative business models with appropriate financing. Role of common environmental infrastructure in achieving pollution control may also be discussed especially for small and medium industries.
We were perhaps talking about the industrial pollution control now as a sector and not a case of an individual polluting industry.
I attempted to add all these important keywords in the Mind Map. Now the map looked pretty complex. I wasnt fully satisfied though.
“Don’t tell me Professor that you are going to prepare slides to cover everything we have expressed in this Mind Map” I was now worried about the audience.
“Well, Dr Modak, this is my “general” Mind Map on industrial pollution control; I will decide which parts of this Mind Map need to be focused and emphasized to make my slides depending on the context and the audience. The presentation will be thus customized. Not everything will need to be said” Professor explained as he was probably expecting my question. “I will use less text, more infographics and provide handouts of key materials” Professor added.
“This is great, Professor. No wonder why I find your presentations always stimulating and so different from others. You must have prepared several such Mind Map-based presentations by now.” I asked
“No Dr Modak, this is my first time that I will use the technique of Mind Mapping” Professor said this while extinguishing his cigar.
And I was simply puzzled with his candid confession. Perhaps, the technique of Mind Mapping was simply “built in” Professors mind.
Mind mapping is simply a great fun with lots of learning.
The mind map that we created was indeed a “raw” representation. There are several mind mapping freewares that can be used to construct much better visualization, show connections and plugging in the details.
If you are interested, then do attempt creating a mind map on industrial pollution control by using some of these tools and build further on the raw map we prepared. I will publish your maps on this post.
Do send me a copy at email@example.com if you wish to receive any comments or guidance. Will be happy to work with you.
Cover image sourced from https://www.scirra.com/tutorials/188/6-steps-to-play-with-players-mind
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