SmartDraw.com Lists Top Ten Brainstorming & Mind Mapping Tips

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SmartDraw.com, makers of SmartDraw, the first program to automate the process of creating business graphics, today released its list of "Top Ten Brainstorming and Mind Mapping Tips." SmartDraw, the world's most popular business graphics software, is downloaded by more than 2 million people every year and is widely used to create mind maps for brainstorming.

SmartDraw.com, makers of SmartDraw, the first program to automate the process of creating business graphics, today released its list of "Top Ten Brainstorming and Mind Mapping Tips." SmartDraw, the world's most popular business graphics software, is downloaded by more than 2 million people every year and is widely used to create mind maps for brainstorming. SmartDraw's helpful list, created by mind mapping specialists, helps users get their projects off to a great start.

1.    Quantity not Quality.
When brainstorming on your own or with a team of people, the goal is to express as many ideas as possible very quickly. Do not self-censor or hesitate before offering an idea. A free exchange is what can help bring your most brilliant ideas to the surface.
2.    Pen to Paper.
Assign a person to write down all of the ideas on a sheet of paper that can be seen by all of the participants. This list will serve as the master and will be culled to include the most relevant suggestions.
3.    No Critics.
All ideas should be welcome and no one (leader or participant) should issue any type of verbal criticism toward an idea presented, no matter how off base it may seem at the time. This will help keep the environment supportive and help to encourage everyone to take part in the process.
4.    Time's Up.
For fertile idea generation, set a time limit. Having a ticking clock or a timer helps get the creative juices flowing.
5.    Go the Extra Mile.
Even after you think you've exhausted all of the possibilities, reexamine the ideas presented and push yourself to add a few more to the list.
6.    Change of Scenery.
Sometimes the best brainstorming and idea generation can happen in new surroundings. So, leave the all-too-familiar conference room behind and meet somewhere new, maybe a colleague's home, a park or a quiet cafe.
7.    Small Groups.
Brainstorming works best in groups of up to 15 people. If a group gets too large, some attendees may not feel as comfortable participating.
8.    Brainstorm Alone?
Sure, it's possible. Create a mind map starting with your central theme and branch off that, setting new ideas in different circles that connect to the central theme. Maybe one of your new ideas inspires you, so make it a theme and connect new thoughts to it. This form of mind mapping is commonly used by writers trying to spark their imagination. The main rules are the same: no self-censorship, set a time limit, and keep writing - the pen must be touching the page the entire time.
9.    Project Maps.
Mind maps are great to use in project management. One such use would be to brainstorm a list of all the questions you have regarding the scope of your project to make sure you are prepared with the answers.
10.    Have Fun!
Brainstorming can be fun, and is a great way to boost morale among employees and help them to feel part of the decision making process.

SmartDraw, which offers a free trial on its website, offers hundreds of mind map templates that users can modify to quickly create the graphic they need. The program comes loaded with hundreds of SmartTemplates that integrate into diagram-specific workflows, symbols, libraries, and commands. SmartDraw includes built-in-themes with professionally-designed colors, schemes, and effects for polished results anytime. SmartDraw also features one-click copy to MS documents such as Word and PowerPoint, as well as PDF.

In addition, SmartDraw allows users to begin any project as a mind map to easily plan out everything that needs to get done. Once the project is mapped out, users can view the diagram as a project chart with one click of a mouse, toggling between the mind map and project chart view anytime. Changes made in one view will be reflected in another.

Unlike other graphics programs that provide you with a blank screen and expect you to draw, like Visio, with SmartDraw you start with a template that is specifically designed to create the type of illustration you need. You enter the information and SmartDraw does the rest: building the graphic automatically using built-in rules and professional design themes to guarantee polished, presentation-quality results in just a few minutes. It draws for you! And, in the rare case that users need extra help, SmartDraw offers free customer support to all users.
Readers can check out a complete list of new features in SmartDraw 2008 at: http://www.smartdraw.com/product/upgrade/index.htm. In addition, users can download a free trial of SmartDraw from the company's website (http://www.smartdraw.com), and may also purchase online. Individual licenses start at $297. The company also provides variety of options for multiple-seat licenses, including an annual subscription agreement for company-wide usage starting at $2,995.

About SmartDraw.com
SmartDraw.com is the creator of SmartDraw, the world's most popular business graphics software and the first program that makes it possible for ordinary computer users to create presentation-quality business graphics in minutes. Each year more than two million people install and use SmartDraw and the company counts more than half of the members of the Fortune 500 as loyal customers.

Founded in 1994, SmartDraw.com is privately-held and based in San Diego, CA. In addition to SmartDraw 2008 for general business and home use, the company also offers SmartDraw Healthcare and SmartDraw Legal editions which include graphics and applications unique to their respective fields. For more information on the company or to download a free trial of SmartDraw, please visit http://www.smartdraw.com.

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Christine Van Tuyl
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