10/03/2021 opujols0

One of the most common mistakes that people make when preparing a presentation is not considering the audience it is intended for. The speaker prepares each slide thinking about what he or she wants to say (“I want to talk to you about my book”) and not about what the audience is interested in hearing. The speaker is the protagonist in any presentation, but that does not make him the most important person in the room. The “main character” needs to be the audience, because they are the ones that need to be called into action.

That is why it is essential to know who will be assisting the presentation and how knowledgeable they are on each subject. Talking about global warming to a room full of scientists is not the same as speaking about it at a public forum or at a primary school. The only way we are going to be able to correctly prepare for our presentation is by knowing who it is meant for, by knowing who are audience is.

Of course, this will mean more work for the speaker. But preparing a tailored presentation is the only way we will spark the audience’s interest and earn their undivided attention.

Last but not least, it is also important to know the size of the audience, how long the presentation will be and if it will be held in person or virtually


22/12/2020 opujols0

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.


24/11/2020 opujols0

In the post published on the 12.07.20 titled: “Steps to prepare a presentation” we talk about the 7 key elements needed in a presentation for it to be able to connect with an audience.

The first step is to decide whether or not a face to face presentation is even necessary or if there are other ways to communicate the content of our presentation: through e-mail, videoconferences, sending the information online…

To find the answer to this question I recommend you think back to all those times when you were a kid and you would listen to your parent’s or grandparent’s stories. Or the stories you have told your own children throughout the years. Or the time you went to your favorite musician’s concert after having listened to their music over and over again on vinyl, on Spotify, on tape or on a CD player. Maybe you have assisted a conference where the speaker was so eloquent that he made time fly while you were listening. Can you think of any situations like these? The only reason for it to be worth preparing a face to face conference or presentation is if our physical presence actually adds value to it as a whole.

All throughout 2020, the Covid-19 global pandemic has made many of us change our habits in both our private and professional surroundings. One of the most important changes has to do with the growth of video apps like Skype, Teams  or Zoom. These tools have helped us manage our workloads and we are now able to complete presentations and meetings from the comfort of our homes, without needing to face our target audience. We have taken advantage of the tough experiences brought to us by Covid-19 and we have reevaluated the way things are done in our workplaces. We take advantage of technology when it is in our interest to do so and we save our face to face presentations for moments when it is necessary to connect and establish a more direct link with our audience; when we want to motivate and connect with them on a more personal level. Just like our parents and grandparents did for us when they told us stories or the way our favorite musicians reach us when we see them live.


12/07/2020 opujols0
  1. Is the presentation necessary?

The first thing we need to ask ourselves is if our presentation is really necessary. Is it possible to share the message or information via e-mail or videocall? It will only be worth preparing our face to face presentation if it can somehow contribute additional value to the audience.

  1. Know your audience.

If we decide to prepare a presentation, the second step would be to ask ourselves who our audience is. What do they expect from us? How can we help them? What can we put on the table to make there own jobs easier? This is why every audience needs their own tailored presentation. Yes, it is more work for us, but it is the only way we will be able to awaken their interest and draw their attention to us.

  1. Message

The message sums up your presentations content. Imagine you only had 1 minute, 1 glorious minute to complete your presentation. Would you use up your minute on introductions, aknowledgments, data and other things like that? Or would you try to present only the most relevant, important and crucial points to your audience? The message must be pointed out both at the beginning and at the end of your presentation.

  1. Story

Telling a story is the best way to deliver a message in a memorable way. We will do so following the three main steps of storytelling: By creating a beginning, a middle and an ending. In our case, the beginning will be our current situation, the middle will be the problem or the part that needs to change, and the end will be our proposed solution; which we will complete with a detailed description.

  1. Slides

Slides should follow a certain design and pattern. The use of a template is recommended. This will make your presentation more consistent and easier to follow by the audience. It is important for the slides to have very little text (so they can be read quickly and from every corner of the room) and for the pictures or photos to be of the best quality possible so they are helpful to us during our exposition.

  1. Handout

The handout is the document that we will give our audience (not copies of the slides!) that includes more detailed information about the subject of the presentation (tables, data, calculations, references,…). This information will help the audience follow the presentation while it lets the speaker focus on his or her main message.

  1. Delivery

Now comes the moment we have all been waiting for! Conveying and transmitting our ideas is only possible if we show our true selves to the audience. We need to express things that we ourselves truly believe in… It is the only way we will be able to reach the people that are listening to us.


12/07/2020 opujols0

Each day, communicating in a proficient manner is becoming more and more important, both in our private and professional lives. The ability to convey our thoughts and ideas to the people that surround us is essential; and to achieve proper communication skills there are certain aptitudes and techniques that we need to know, practice and develop.

We all assist and participate in different conferences, seminars and lectures where the volume and density of all the information presented to us may make it difficult for us to retain and understand it all… Why is this? Most presentations are made up of many slideshows (way too many slideshows!) where all sorts of information such as texts, tables, numbers and graphs turn into the main part of each exposition. The speaker, who should be the main protagonist in conveying the story or information that he or she presents, gets pushed down into a less important position and just turns into a sort of slideshow narrator of what is already written and explained.

The only two essential protagonists in any presentation are the speaker and the audience. All the different types of software that we can find on the market should only be used as support for the speaker. It should be used as a tool that helps the speaker strengthen certain parts of his or her own narrative or it should help the audience focus their attention and interest correctly. How should it be used?

Breviora (from Latin, “the shortest“) prepare 2 documents: one set of slideshows and one summary document (or handout).

The slides should be made up of high quality images backed up with short texts that follow a line of thought that help the speaker convey his or her message in a structured, simple and clear manner during the presentation.

The handout should be a more detailed summary of the information and should be given to the audience.