SlideShare is a free web 2.0 based slide hosting service where users can upload presentation-based files. Launched in October 2006, it’s considered to be similar to YouTube, but for slideshows. It was originally meant to be used for businesses to share slides among employees more easily, but it has since expanded to also become a host of a large number of slides which are uploaded merely to entertain. SlideShare gets an estimated 58 million unique visitors a month and has about 16 million registered users.
With such a strong user base, authors Kit Seeborg and Andrea Meyer write in Present Yourself: Using SlideShare to Grow Your Business how SlideShare users can use the site (including other similar collaborative sites such as Prezi and Scribd) to present their story to a worldwide audience. Given that visual presentations are the new language of business, understanding how to maximize their potential can be a valuable asset for the entrepreneur, job seeker and everyone in between.
The truth is that a book on SlideShare alone would need no more than 15 pages (20 pages if you include the Pro edition). How difficult is it to upload a PowerPoint? As an aside, the truth is that there is a huge market for publishing freely available content. Check out Emereo Publishers on Amazon. They have mastered the art of taking free Wikipedia content and charging for it. Enough digression – in this valuable book – the authors show not only how to use the product, but how to maximize its use.
In eight detailed and concise chapter, the book shows the reader how to create presentations that stand out. The chapters are:
1 - Visual Thinking
2 - Getting Started
3 - Events and Public Speaking
4 - Content
5 - Sell, Sell, Sell
6 - Research and Collaboration
7 - Recruiting, Hiring, and Getting Hired
8 - Organizational Outreach and Communication
Throughout the book, the authors quote liberally from science and research on the power of visualization. With that lies the inherent power of SlideShare, as humans like images and think more efficiently when they use them. The authors quote a study which shows that when carrying out routine office tasks, if the data is displayed more visually (such as through visual maps), individuals are 17% more productive and need to use 20% fewer mental resources. As to the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words; the authors show that it has a basis in biological fact.
The book is worth it just for the sage advice in the quote at the beginning of chapter 3 where Nancy Duarte, author of slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentations states about
presentations, that “they didn’t come to your presentation to see you. They came to find out what you can do for them. Success means giving them a reason for taking their time, providing content that resonates, and ensures it’s clear what they are to do”. Using Duarte’s call to arms with the guidance in the book can hopefully start a meaningful change in how data is presented.
As to the presentation itself, the book notes that the presenter of today has a huge challenge in keeping the audience engaged. Anyone who has presently recently knows that many, often a majority of the audience will be distracted by their smartphones, Twitter, Facebook, Angry Birds and more. With that, presenters must put in extra effort to compete for the mindshare of a distracted audience. The book shows you how to overcome such obstacles and suggests that one way to win more audience attention is to include engaging visual slides with your presentation and show them intermittently instead of in parallel with your talk.
Throughout the book, it is clear that the authors are passionate about the topic and it lists many resources and uses to make presentation much more effective. The book has numerous real-world examples of such users. One is Adam Tratt of Haiku Deck; a free presentation app for the iPad that makes presentations simple, beautiful, and fun.
Another example is that of Jeremiah Owyang of the Altimeter Group, a research and advisory firm whose reports consistently rank in the top 100 most viewed documents on SlideShare. The amazing thing about their research, which competing firms charge thousands of dollars for, is that it is all free on SlideShare. The example also shows how they use SlideShare Pro for the secure creation of the reports. They view this model of open research as a core asset that has served the firm well, establishing its credibility and reputation as a trusted resource
While the book has business in its title, it still has significant relevance for end-users, specifically in chapter 7. There it details how you can use SlideShare to further your career and find a job. This is crucial regardless of your profession and industry, in that while the traditional resume is still alive and well, the ability to place your experience on-line opens up new horizons. A full professional presence requires both a paper resume and an online presence.
The chapter notes that a comprehensive online presence, especially with a compete profile on LinkedIn, is forty times more likely to receive job opportunities. The authors note that even if a
person is not a presenter, there are things they can do on SlideShare to highlight themselves; including a presentation that serves as a visual resume of their career, a portfolio presentation that displays their creative work and more. Even for those who are not speakers, the authors recommend that the serious job searcher consider public speaking as part of their career strategy,
For those that want to take a look, the first chapter of the book is available here. Not surprisingly, it is on SlideShare.
For those that want to learn everything about online presentations and how to design effective presentations, they may need a more comprehensive guide.
But for those that have the basic capabilities and want to learn everything about SlideShare, from the mundane of adding a SlideShare widget to your website, sharing your presentation across social platforms, sharing your content, collaboration, finding a more rewarding job and much more, Present Yourself: Using SlideShare to Grow Your Business is a great resource.