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.