In 2004 I was lucky enough to secure a job at the University of Tarragona (Universitat Rovira i Virgili), as an associate professor in the Chemical Engineering department, where I would be teaching “Tribology and Lubrication”. In spite of my initial enthusiasm and excitedness, I soon realized that the students were not choosing my class for the right reasons. They were not motivated with the lesson’s content (many of them confessed not knowing what the class was even about) and had only chosen it because it fit their complicated schedules. The low attendance rate and the bored faces of those who did decide to come to class made the beginning of my time as a teacher unstimulating and unsatisfying.
That’s when I decided to find a way, not only to increase attendance in my classroom, but also make sure student participation went up. How was I going to achieve this? A good friend of mine recommended Garr Reynolds’ book Presentation Zen. His ideas and proposals seduced me from the beginning: simplicity, structure, clarity, aesthetics, passion… After enjoying myself thoroughly many times while reading the book I reevaluated how I had planned out my lessons: I restructured the contents of my lesson plan, changed the design of my notes and rethought the workflow dynamics.
With all these changes I was able to make my classes more interactive, dynamic, practical and all in all enjoyable. The information was presented in a more visual and attractive manner which made it connect with the audience. That is how my first Zen Presentation was born.
The student’s interest in my lesson kept rising. It became more and more noticeable when attendance and participation steadily increased even though my classes were programmed for the same time as the Champions League’s football matches. That is not an easy feat! This dynamic kept getting better each year. My own experience as a teacher and all the feedback received from students helped me better the system. That is how in the year 2010, Presentation Zen became a part of the MBA in the University of Tarragona and evolved into a strong leadership tool. Now it is available and can help anybody that believes it is possible to tell a story that is meant to connect with your target audience.