SlideShare: Marketing with Online Slideshows (Part 3)

SlideShare: Marketing with Online Slideshows
Part 3 of a Three-Part Tutorial

Tips for Creating Your Slideshow

Part 1  Part 2

As a first step in developing your own slideshows, take some time and browse through a few dozen presentations on SlideShare. Look for presentation styles that engage you. Notice the variety of ways that people use fonts and graphics to make their slides interesting. You might even find a presentation whose format is so appealing to you that you use it as a template for designing your own slideshow.

In addition, this time spent browsing will expose you to abundant examples of how not to develop a slideshow. To put it mildly, among all of the jewels that you find on SlideShare, there is also an abundance of presentations which are poorly constructed. Take lessons from the poor presentations as well as the superb ones.

To make your slideshows as powerful as possible, here are some guidelines that I've developed from my own experience with this medium.

  1. Be aware that PowerPoint animations will be lost in your slideshow.
    None of the hosting services preserve the built-in slide-to-slide transitions in PowerPoint nor the animations which are so popular. Design your slides so that they don't rely on any special effects.
  2. Keep it short.
    If people cannot read through your presentation in three minutes or less, you're going to have a high abandonment rate. If your topic is too complex to be abbreviated this much, break it down into smaller sub-topics and devote a slideshow to each one.
  3. Use larger fonts.
    Remember that your presentation will be shown in a significantly reduced size when it's embedded on a web site. Any font smaller than 18 points is not likely to be legible.
  4. Economize on words.
    Because your fonts are so large, you don't have a lot of space for your content. Your goal is to have the message on each slide short enough that the viewer can absorb the slide's meaning in little more than a glance.
  5. Be sure that you embed your fonts in the PowerPoint file.
    You may still get some unwanted font substitutions when the file is translated, but your improve your odds for a smooth translation with embedded fonts.
  6. Don't trust the background color in PowerPoint to be properly translated.
    Lighter backgrounds, in particular, are sometimes rendered as white when translated by the hosting service software. My practice is to forego background colors altogether and to create my background with a rectangle which covers the entire slide. I can then apply whatever colors, gradients, or transparencies I want to this graphic. Once I have it the way I want it, I copy this rectangle and paste it to all other slides before I add text and graphics to them.
  7. Use wide margins
    When the hosting service translates your PowerPoint into a browser ready file, adjustments frequently occur in the aspect ratio or the percentage of the slide that is actually displayed. If your margins are too tight, words or graphics may spill outside of the viewer.
  8. Do not embed links in your first three slides.
    Links in the first three slides will not work properly. Besides, you normally want to withhold any links until the very end of your presentation. You don't want someone clicking on a link halfway through your presentation so that they leave your slideshow without finishing it.
  9. Close your slideshow with a strong call to action.
    SlideShare actively encourages this practice. Your presentation should conclude with a slide designed to send people to your website, to a specific web page devoted to a given product or service, or to the landing page for a special offer. If you use SlideShare's optional pop-up form to capture leads, I suggest two ending slides, the first with your call to action, the second with copyright and other "end of document" information. SlideShare will trigger the pop-up just before the final slide, and the popup will block the view of your content. You don't want this to happen before the viewer has seen your call to action and has had a chance to respond to it. So never make your call to action slide the final one in your presentation.
  10. Convert your PowerPoint to a PDF format before uploading.
    You don't have this option with SkyDrive/OneDrive. But this step will save you a lot of headaches, even with SlideShare. My experience has been that when SlideShare translates a PowerPoint document, text and graphics are sometimes placed in the wrong positions. And links in a pure PowerPoint upload do not always work properly. You can forego these frustrations entirely if you upload the presentation in a PDF format. The presentation will still display as a slideshow, but you will have greater control over the final look. If you do not have the capability to convert PowerPoint slides to a PDF format, there are free online services which you might draw on. If the software permits, be sure to specify that the fonts from your PowerPoint file are to be embedded in the PDF file.

Two Great Examples of Slideshows Done Well

To end this tutorial, let me offer you two superb SlideShare presentations. The first will help you create more effective designs for your slideshows. The other is a powerful demonstration of how a slideshow, with relatively few words, can communicate a powerful message. As you work through these presentations, notice how well they conform with the guidelines above.

And yes, these slideshows are embedded from SlideShare. One of the features in SlideShare is that it provides an Embed button with each slideshow. Someone wanting to have your slideshow on their site can simply capture the embedding code and your presentation is suddenly getting broader exposure on another site.

Part 1  Part 2

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