When you think of uploading a video, you think of YouTube. When you think of checking-in, it’s probably FourSquare. And when you think of sharing a PowerPoint or Keynote presentation, you think of Slideshare.
Since it was founded in October of 2006, SlideShare has grown rapidly – currently sporting over 50 million monthly visitors.
But just because Slideshare is a good platform, does not mean your presentation will be seen without some extra work. If your presentation isn’t designed with Slideshare in mind, it will probably go over like a lead balloon.
Why You Are Failing On Slideshare
No Speaker – The problem is that the majority of presentations on Slideshare are repurposed presentation slides, originally designed to be presented live and in person. Thus, without a presenter to speak to the slides (since slides are best used as a visual backdrop), it loses much of its context an meaning.
Too Many Words –Other times presentations are designed knowing they will only be seen virtually and without a presenter, so the designer pours words onto each slide, turning it into a novel instead of a visually gripping experience. Either way, your presentation is unmemorable and the audience leaves unsatisfied.
There are plenty of resources out there to help you become a better presentation designer. And when you want to create content specifically for Slideshare, design is a key consideration. But there are still a few nuances about Slideshare that you will need to understand in order to make your presentation effective.
Here are 5 tips you should follow when creating a presentation specifically for Slideshare:
1. Separate Your Information into Consumable Bites
Slideshare presentations need to move quickly. While many people use Slideshare to search for and consume information, that doesn’t mean they’re looking to read a book. Slideshare presentations are most effective when the user can consume the main theme of the slide in less than 3 seconds. Any longer and you’ve got too much information.
Think of it like a comic book: In order to tell a story using both words and imagery, the execution needs to keep the reader engaged and interested. In order to do that, comic book artists break the story down into numerous frames with small text bubbles. Thus the frame can be consumed in seconds and the reader can quickly move on. New images engage his eyes and the bits of text help tell the story.
The following presentation is one of the best Slideshare presentations out there, and even though it has 80 slides, it can be consumed in just a minute or two because the designers separated the information onto multiple slides, allowing them to tell a story.
2. Find Unique and Vibrant Imagery
Once you’ve got your presentation content laid out, you’ll need to start designing it, and one of the pillars of effective presenting is the use of large, vibrant, and engaging images that clearly compliment and emphasize the point you’re trying to make on each slide. During a live presentation, you (as the presenter) may be able to pick up the slack for your boring imagery, but on Slideshare you’ll lose your audience almost immediately. Try using iStockPhoto for stock imagery or Compfight to search for creative commons* photography on Flickr.
The following imagery was found on iStockPhoto and purchased for just a few dollars each. (These are four separate slides, not one slide with four quadrants)
*Creative commons photography often needs to be referenced, so make sure you cite the source somewhere in your presentation.
3. Use Text, But Use It Sparingly
There’s simply no getting around it — Without a presenter to add the important information, you have to use text to get your key points across. However, that doesn’t mean you have to FILL the slide with EVERY bit of information you want to get across. Remember, this is more like a comic book and less like a novel. Each slide should be a frame in your comic – a handful of words and vivid imagery to express the action.
Figure out the main point of each slide, and express it in as few words as possible. Below is a presentation originally designed for a live presentation. However, when I intended enter it in Slideshare’s 2010 World’s Best Presentation Contest, I had to add text since there would be no live presenter. I had to walk a thin line between adding text and not turning it into what Presentation guru Garr Reynolds calls a “slideument.”
4. Avoid Animations
Slideshare doesn’t support animation (though I never use anything but Fade and Wipe) so you’ll want to rid your presentation of all animations, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you want to reveal information on your slide piece by piece, separate the information onto three separate slides. As the audience clicks through it will appear to be a single slide with hidden bits of information, but in reality you’ve created three slides with the illusion of animation.
Here are four separate slides that when placed in order look like one slide building on itself:
5. Upload to Slideshare as a PDF
This one I learned the hard way — endlessly exporting my presentation until I found the file type that worked the best. I literally spent hours exporting as a .PPT, exporting as .JPEGs, exporting as .PNGs, yet every time my slides would look pixelated, compressed, or my unique fonts wouldn’t transfer correctly. However, when you export as a PDF, the slides don’t lose any resolution and nearly any font will transfer over flawlessly. Simply “Save As” a PDF or choose the PDF option when on the Print screen.
Slideshare can be a very powerful platform, allowing you to share your information and spread brand awareness. But in the end, it’s always about your audience. Provide them with useful content wrapped in an engaging experience and you’ll have a winner on your hands.