When I first heard about SlideShare—the “YouTube of PowerPoint presentations”—my initial, uncensored reaction was:
“That’s the lamest thing I’ve ever heard of.”
Even now, I’m still pretty sure that PowerPoint presentations are considered a form of torture by some people. Too often they’re something we’re forced to endure rather than something we want to engage with.
Luckily these presentations aren’t what SlideShare is really about.
SlideShare is not only a great channel for distributing content but also a versatile format on its own that offers creative freedom for marketers and easy-to-consume content for audiences.
And since SlideShare is saturated with recycled slide decks, it’s relatively easy for original content to compete for attention—if you put the time and effort into conceptualization, writing, design and distribution.
As a marketer invested in B2B content, SlideShare presents an opportunity for you to tap into one of the top 100 most visited sites on the internet with an average of 3 billion presentation views every month from an engaged professional audience.
The fact that SlideShare is actually owned by LinkedIn makes it a potential game changer in many a B2B company’s content mix, especially if your niche relates to Leadership, Technology, Education, Marketing, or Design.
So if you’re not on SlideShare, you should be.
If you’re not creating content specifically for SlideShare, you really should be.
And if you’re not maximizing SlideShare’s potential, here’s how you could be.
The Problem: The “wheel” doesn’t fit the “vehicle”
One of my favorite quotes to apply to content creation, which is especially relevant when creating for SlideShare, is from Canadian Philosopher of communication theory, Marshall McLuhan:
“The Medium is the Message.”
When it comes to communication in a multi-media, multi-channel world, I think it’s more important than ever to realize that what you write, how you write and who you’re writing for changes depending on the vehicle that carries the message.
I think one of the reasons a lot of people, myself included, underestimate SlideShare is because it’s become the go-to place to get extra life out of single-use slides from our last speaking gig or webinar.
But this is a classic case of “the wheel” not being made to fit “the vehicle”:
Person 1: “We don’t need to reinvent the wheel here.”
Person 2: “Are you sure? You’re literally putting a bicycle tire on an airplane…”
SlideShare significantly differs from live presentations in a number of ways:
- There is no “speaker”. The slides do all the talking and the “clicker” is in the audience’s hands.
- You can upload your PDF with links, letting you add clickable buttons to your slides for strategic CTAs and interactive elements.
- Presentations are embeddable, which means your slides can be easily featured on other blogs or your own to net you even more eyeballs.
- You can re-upload presentations and keep almost everything intact (views, likes, embeds, etc.).
- SlideShare Analytics let you identify traffic sources, links clicked, tweets about your content and more (some metrics, like number of views from external embeds, are public too).
So, while SlideShare is a great channel for getting a second or third life out of your infographics, presentation slides, eBooks, and even videos, you’re missing out if you’re not creating content exclusively for SlideShare.
Developing content ideas for SlideShare
Just like there are different kinds of blog posts you can write (listicles, “how to” posts, “why” posts, event recaps, etc.), there are also different kinds of SlideShare presentations you can write.
Start by thinking about the overall structure you want to use. Here are some ideas on where to start:
The listicle format or “list” is a structure you can apply to most types of content.
Not only are numbered headlines very clickable, but by supporting them with design and relevant links, you can package these points into a slide or series of slides to create an engaging, easy-to-follow presentation.
Take a step back and the structure of a SlideShare presentation has a lot in common with picture books and comic strips, where each slide acts as a page or a panel that builds momentum with every click.
This makes SlideShare a natural format for hooking an audience with an engaging narrative.
Storytelling revolves around change, so this format does wonders to encourage readers to click through from slide to slide and gives marketers a chance to flex their creative muscles.
Analogies are a great way to explain unfamiliar concepts using a familiar point of reference as an anchor.
Find compelling angles and connections and you have yourself a presentation that can differentiate itself from the crowd.
SlideShare is also effective for delivering lessons or step-by-step instructions. This is the equivalent of a “how to” blog post but where each slide or set of slides is dedicated to describing a different step or stage.
Mix, match and explore new ways to deliver compelling presentations to your audience.
Writing for SlideShare
You don’t have much real estate to work with on each slide, so I suggest that you put on your copywriting cap:
- Be concise and be bold.
- Incorporate typographic hierarchy to help readers identify main vs. supporting information.
- Anticipate design choices in advance and write directions into your outline.
- Write snappy sentences that connect your ideas and keep ‘em clickin’ ‘til the end.
Despite the fact that your reader controls the pace of the presentation, you shouldn’t overwhelm your slides with copy. Break it up into short sentences spread across all your slides and be mindful of how your slides flow into one another as you create the outline of your SlideShare presentation.
I like to follow the 5-second rule of SlideShare: Don’t force your reader to spend more than 5 seconds reading in between clicks. In most cases, they should only spend a second or two on each slide before moving on.
And as always, inject some personality into the writing; not only is it a great way to keep readers clicking, but it also helps to inspire the design.
Designing for SlideShare
Naturally, as a visual format, your SlideShare presentation will benefit immensely from good design.
Just like with infographics, think about all the ways you can represent information visually to communicate it quickly.
The cover slide can make or break your presentation, just like the headline for a blog post. Make sure it has a catchy presentation title and design that entices readers to check out your presentation when they stumble across it on the internet.
Your cover slide’s design should be consistent with your actual presentation. Some presentations have a well-designed cover that doesn’t carry over to the rest of the presentation and the clickbait effect is the painful result: readers click through with high expectations and bounce away when the content fails to meet them.
We’ve found that you can boost reader engagement if you develop a visual theme throughout the presentation that ties it all together from cover to call-to-action.
Typography is arguably the most essential consideration here as it complements the personality of the copy, emphasizes important points and enhances readability.
Here’s a great resource for typography tips in—what else—SlideShare form:
“The SlideShare player is pretty small by default (about 630×445), so the font you use has to be simple and large enough to be easily readable without zooming in.”
— Quentin Zancanaro, Graphic Designer at Uberflip
If you’re a designer/marketer hybrid or have a good in-house designer to create your slides, like we do at Uberflip, you have a competitive advantage on SlideShare. But don’t let your lack of internal resources become an obstacle. You can always outsource or use good ol’ PowerPoint or Haiku Deck combined with some learning and ingenuity to create something decent.
All in all, perhaps the best practice for SlideShare design is to make it look as far removed from a run-of-the-mill boring PowerPoint presentation as you possibly can.
Distributing your slide deck (and getting results)
Creating a great SlideShare presentation is half the battle. The rest is making sure it gets seen in order to bring you the results you want.
SEO on SlideShare is a fairly simple affair:
- Use the right keywords in your presentation title and description.
- Tag the right interests to attract the right audience (you’re allowed up to 20 tags).
- Include a transcript (this text is crawlable by search engines and should be automatically generated if you upload a .PDF or .PPT file).
If you create a great presentation, SlideShare’s editorial team might feature it on their home page and give you a huge boost in reach—I’m talking thousands of new views.
As for social media distribution, well, there’s a reason it’s called SlideShare.
The SlideShare player is social-friendly, enabling readers to effortlessly consume the content directly in their Twitter or LinkedIn feed, making every share that much more valuable.
— Braveen Kumar (@braveenk) June 24, 2015
To make SlideShare work for lead generation, you can upload your presentation with a link on the call to action of your final slide, directing visitors outbound to your premium content or a relevant landing page.
Among SlideShare’s many features is the ability to collect leads with pop-up forms that you can set to appear at certain points in the presentation. SlideShare’s integration with LinkedIn means form fields auto-fill if the user is signed into their LinkedIn account, which ups the conversion potential of your forms.
How I learned to stop hating and love SlideShare
Here at Uberflip, we’ve managed to produce content that’s scored tens of thousands of views, high levels of engagement and positive feedback, several appearances on SlideShare’s homepage and “Hot on Twitter” section, and new subscribers to our blog. This makes SlideShare one of the most valuable players in our content mix.
So, right here, right now, I want to publicly apologize for underestimating SlideShare.
Sorry, SlideShare. My skepticism was misplaced.
As with any medium, you need to learn the unique ins and outs—from the bells and whistles to how audiences consume it—to net you the results you want from the content you create.