One of my most favourite professional development books is Presentation Zen by Garr Reynolds. He has a Presentation Zen website with plenty of information and tips too if you can’t quite get your hands on the book – A 2nd Edition copy has just been released too – Voices that Matter.
I highly recommend that you purchase your own copy of the book and I highly recommend that you give Presentation Zen a try in your classroom. If you are interested, I wrote a post detailing how and what I first learnt about Presentation Zen during my COETAIL learning journey back in 2009.
Presentation Zen in the Classroom
Currently I use the presentation zen style for PD sessions with faculty as much as I can. When I was in the classroom I used this style in all the Keynotes I prepared ahead for Readers and Writers Workshop visual mini lessons. The result in the classroom was (I think) better conversations, shorter mini-lessons and increased motivation and inspiration – especially for writing.
Recently at the JIS Technology Learning Institute, I ran a popular session on using presentation zen in the classroom. To give you an idea of what was in this session, I’ve embedded (and linked to) the Keynote (which was uploaded to SlideShare) I used to introduce the basics of Presentation Zen. After looking at the basics, we looked at an actual Readers Workshop keynote (also embedded for you below) that I’d used in the past.
Next, I asked the session participants to begin work on their own Presentation Zen keynote. This session was a great way to not only introduce the basics of presentation zen and keynote but it encouraged a really good conversation about Creative Commons and copyright, which a lot of schools are struggling with.
One of the best books I bought over the “Summer” break was Garr Reynolds‘ book, presentationzen Simple Ideas on Presentation Design and Delivery. It’s an informative read and is full of ideas, reasons and ways to ensure that you’re not contributing scores of to the “Death by Powerpoint” group!
My favourite new term is slideument – a cross between a slide and a document. I know I’ve been guilty of a few “slideuments” in my time!
Marketing guru and presenter extraordinaire, Seth Godin, contributes to presentationzen with the idea that
communication is the transfer of emotion
He says you can improve your presentation immediately by:
Making slides that reinforce your words, not repeat them. These slides should demonstrate, with emotional proof, that what you’re saying is true not just accurate. No more than six words on a slide. EVER.
Don’t use cheesy images. Use professional stock photo images.
No dissolves, spins or other transitions. Keep it simple.
Create a written document. A leave-behind. Put in as many footnotes as you like. Tell the audience that you’re going to five them all the details of your presentation after it’s over, & they don’t have to write down everything you say. DON’T hand out printouts of your slides. They don’t work without you there.
I’ve been trying to use presentationzen during the writer’s workshop mini-lesson for my Grade 5 students. I’m hoping that the visual images will help to stimulate creativity and emotion. I did think that my slides were presentationzen – after reading the above message from Seth Godin, I’ve discovered that they’re weren’t quite there yet. I had transitions still, the slides repeated my words, not reinforced them and some had more than six words!
I’ve come to the realisation that the words are on the slides for me, rather than the students, and this is a direct reflection of how much I am still not comfortable with the writing workshop mini-lessons from Lucy Calkins. I’m using her words, her ideas and I haven’t yet managed to formulate my own words and ideas about teaching writing workshop style mini-lessons. (but now I digress ……). Below is a sample of a “before” page and then an “after” page.
Apart from the last suggestion from Seth Godin about creating a writing document (which I guess we do in a way when we hang reminder charts everywhere in the classroom for writing and reading) – I think I’ll definitely stick to the other suggestions.
I accidentally deleted my images in skitch when it switched to Evernote – not realising that this would affect a lot of images embedded in my blog posts (silly me!) I’m currently looking to see if I can replace these images – it’s taking a while and some I know I won’t be able to replicate – sorry about that!
Garr Reynolds believes
One of the most important things you can do in the initial stage of preparing for your presentation is to get away from your computer.
My planning has always taken place at the computer, so I’m willing to give this a go to see if it helps me be more true to the presentationzen ideal. I’ll also be asking myself his two questions as I prepare my next presentations:
What’s your point?
Why does it matter?