We are fans of SlideShare as a platform for business storytelling.
The odometer on our SlideShare — we’ve posted six decks since 2011 — just passed the 100,000 views mark, not too shabby for a communications consultancy that works behind the curtain. While consumer brands use SlideShare, its marriage of in-depth content and social make it a natural for B2B companies.
In the right hands, SlideShare can become a poor man’s video. I say this because many of the characteristics associated with great video — visual storytelling, surprise and levity, among others — can be generated in a SlideShare at a fraction of the cost of a video. SlideShare can be a particularly effective platform for B2B companies where championing a two-minute video at a price point of $10K to $15K might be a career-limiting exercise.
True, a SlideShare deck isn’t going to have the same emotive power or viral reach of a video. Then again, these qualities don’t carry the same value for a B2B company as they do for a consumer brand.
But creating a compelling SlideShare deck takes more than republishing a PowerPoint presentation. Even though both take the form of slides, each is a distinctive media type.
Verbal communications drive a PowerPoint presentation that’s delivered to a group. Duration is typically 30 to 60 minutes.
The visual storytelling drives a SlideShare, consumed by one individual at a time. Duration is typically less than 10 minutes.
With this in mind, here are the six principles that have guided our creation of SlideShare decks:
1. Don’t be Dull.
Put another way, have a take. The more contrarian or fresh the take, the more likely people will gravitate to your deck. Thought leadership in the form of education is another way to hurdle the dull barrier. A fresh take and education come together in the deck below on how to better use PowerPoint. While the word “suck” has been overused to the point of becoming a cliché, the overall parody works to the tune of almost 2 million views.
2. Better Yet, Be Edgy or Even Provocative.
There’s a reason that the ratings for Howard Stern and Rush Limbaugh score so high. People enjoy a train wreck. A vignette like the one in the “How Google Works” SlideShare below jars the viewer:
3. Tell a Story.
The most persuasive communication touches both parts of the brain, the intellectual and the emotional. Take the viewer through a form of the classic storytelling arc teasing out the problem as found in our SlideShare called “Aligning PR with Storytelling with the Happily Ever After.”
4. Use Typography as a Visual.
It might sound counterintuitive, but most of the successful SlideShare decks use typography as a visual asset. The key lies in adhering to the adage, less is more. One of the most popular SlideShares of all time with over 6 million views, The Brand Gap, shows this technique action.
5. Typography Itself Tells a Mini Story.
Like having fun with language, you can have fun with typography. In our SlideShare on how clients get the most out of us, you can see how this technique plays out in the following sequence:
6. Harmonize the Words and Visuals.
I know this one sounds obvious. Of course, the visuals and words should go together. But harmonizing words and visuals takes it to another level. Using illustration where anything is possible lends itself to this approach. One of our favorite visual storytellers, Gavin McMahon, uses illustration on a regular basis.
I said this years ago, and it’s still true today. Companies underutilize SlideShare as part of their communications mix.
At the very least, the platform deserves experimentation as you explore expanding owned media channels.