Thanks to the incredibly gifted Kim Cofino, I finally took the leap and created a presentation using the principles of “Presentation Zen” outlined by Kim in her wonderful post from January 2009.  After stumbling on one of her presentations in SlideShare through a friend from Twitter, I was in awe and subscribed to her blog.  Consequently, I came across her post and decided I wanted some presentation zen, too!  If you have seen Kim’s work, you know how inspiring and talented she is; I also appreciate her being so generous in sharing all her pearls of wisdom in her blog post on principles of presentation zen.

Our district has two  technology integration programs called Teach 21 and Media 21 (media specialists).  One of the courses, “Introduction to Information Literacy”, is taught by three other media specialists and me.  We have been offering the course for about a year now, and like any other class, we are constantly fine tuning it.  I decided for my night that I would try to use a “Presentation Zen” style PowerPoint to facilitate discussion.

As Kim suggested, I decided to create a storyboard with three main “areas” of concentration.  My job was to focus on the concept of research pathfinders, GALILEO (our state’s virtual library), and NoodleTools; I also included a small subsection on emerging sources of authority and social scholarship.

The most difficult part of creating the presentation was finding the images.  I started with the Creative Commons search Kim suggested, but eventually changed over to the advanced search feature in Flickr to search photos with specific types of Creative Commons licenses.   Because I had such a wealth of images to use, it took much longer than I anticipated to find the “just right” image for each idea.  In addition to those images, I found a wonderful selection of images within Microsoft Clip Art (try the live search)  I was sure to provide a photo attribution for the Flickr images on each slide as well.

Additionally, I incorporated this YouTube video to help frame the idea of students developing personal learning networks for research; the video is embedded in the SlideShare presentation.

After taking all of her suggestions to heart, I worked on it for about seven hours into Monday evening, and I then worked on it through the wee small hours of the morning into early Wednesday.  It was a labor of love, but it was well worth the effort!  I really enjoyed the creative process of blending ideas and images together, and while I see a few changes I would make, I am really proud and pleased with how the presentation looks.  I definitely recommend the “Presentation Zen” approach to anyone who may be preparing an upcoming presentation to a group even if it is more instructional in nature like mine.

I did supplement the main PowerPoint with a course page on SharePoint and a shorter PowerPoint designed to be more of a handout on the course page (which is not available to the public at this time….it is housed on our district’s SharePoint training site…I’m sorry you can’t see it for now!).

My links for this course are available at .

I plan to continue using this model for future presentation, and I am getting ready to tweak an existing presentation to convert it to this style.   Many thanks to Kim Cofino for so generously sharing her insights and advice with all of us as I think this mode is going to help me create and deliver more effective presentations!

7 thoughts on “My First Effort at Presentation Zen

  1. First time doing Presentation Zen – looks great! There were a few slides where the text was too light and didn’t context well against the background image, but all-in-all, AWESOME JOB! I’m sure your audience found it a lot more engaging then the old “death-by-PowerPoint” style.

    Keep up the great work!

    – Chris


  2. Hi Chris! Thanks so much! Yes, those were some of the areas I would definitely redo, and I’ll be a little more careful with the contrast of the text color against the photos next time. Thank you for the feedback—I appreciate that! I love this approach to PowerPoint!

    Librareanne—-thank you for your feedback! I am glad I could help in some way!



  3. My pleasure. If you’re anything like me, I’m sure you had an “aha!” moment where you started to question why you weren’t designing presentations like this all along.

    Funny thing is, I think it’s the more natural way of presenting, and somehow we’re “taught” to do the crappy death-by-PowerPoint thing.

    Have fun with it – PrezZen is a great adventure!


  4. Thank you so much for all your kind words! I’m so glad the post and the tips were helpful! It certainly does take a lot of work to make these kinds of presentations, but in the end the visual impact is totally worth it! Your presentations look fantastic!


  5. Awesome job!! I love your metaphor of the travel guide. (I may have to borrow that!) I love the Presentation Zen ideas too! I presented to the faculty a few months ago & I was determined to not have a Death by PowerPoint presentation. I also used Creative Commons & some other sources for great photos. I found the “less is more” idea kept the teachers looking & listening to me, rather than “reading” my slides.
    I also used the fire hydrant photo! Everyone in the room shook their heads “yes” at that one!


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