SlideShare Content Creation Best Practices eBook


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Written in partnership with Ethos3, this eBook will provide guidance on creating best in class online presentations.

Published in: Technology, Business

SlideShare Content Creation Best Practices eBook

  1. 1. Powered by:ETHOS3.COM
  2. 2. The following how-to guide contains a wealth of tips and tricks that will help you create apowerful presentation that captures the attention of SlideShare’s professional audience.We’ll show you how to create a compelling presentation that demonstrates thoughtleadership and provides a rich content experience for the viewer.The average SlideShare user spends five to six minutes on a presentation, which illustrateshow effective presentations can be as a medium to distribute insights. But in order to garnerthat kind of engagement, we must create presentations that are impossible to ignore.With this guide, we’ll show you how.We’ll cover three essential parts of every presentation– conceptualization, creation, andmaximization. Conceptualization is the first step to tackle, in which you’ll streamline andbeautify content. As you’ll see, simplicity and storytelling is the root of all success. Next,we’ll supply you with a few mini tutorials, supported by case study examples, of how tocreate a visually striking presentation. And last, we’ll talk about how to maximize the impactof your presentation by becoming a thought leader, announcing a clear call to action andpromoting your presentation with purpose.Think of this all-inclusive how-to guide as your sage presentation design sidekick.It will provide you with an arsenal of tips and tricks to create a presentation that trulyresonates with SlideShare’s professional audience. Turbocharge your content, and maximizeaudience engagement with a presentation that leaves everyone wanting more.
  3. 3. Table of ContentsPart I: ConceptualizationPart II: CreationPart III: MaximizationChapter 1: Simplicity is the Ultimate SophisticationChapter 2: Move the Audience to FeelChapter 3: Statistics & Storytelling: A Compelling BondChapter 4: Use Stock PhotographyChapter 5: The Art of MinimalismChapter 6: The Power of the InfographicChapter 7: Be a Thought Leader for Your AudienceChapter 8: Incite Movement with a Call to ActionChapter 9: Promote Your Presentation with Purpose
  4. 4. ConceptualizationPart I:
  5. 5. Chapter 1: Simplicity is the Ultimate SophisticationThere’s this movie called Up in the Air. Maybe you’ve seenit. It came out in 2009, and it’s about a guy– played by theperpetually dashing George Clooney– whose job is to firepeople. He gives advice to a new, much younger colleague onhow to do the job right, and along the way, he doles out someadvice about life, too:“How much does your life weigh? Imagine for a second thatyou’re carrying a backpack. I want you to pack it with all the stuff that you have in yourlife… you start with the little things. The shelves, the drawers, the knickknacks, then youstart adding larger stuff… the backpack should be getting pretty heavy now. You gobigger. Your couch, your car, your home… I want you to stuff it all into that backpack.Now I want you to fill it with people. Start with casual acquaintances, friends of friends,folks around the office… your brothers, your sisters… You get them into that backpack.Feel the weight of that bag…”He concludes bleakly (“The slower we move the faster we die.”) but his message ispoignant, and unwittingly apt for the world of presentation.Think of your online presentation as a backpack. Feel the weight of it. How heavyis it? Can you carry it with ease or is it dragging on the ground behind you? Is yourpresentation bogged down by too many words, too many visuals or too many slides? Youhave to add five more slides? That’s more weight in the bag. Need to insert one extraobjective? More weight.Now imagine the weight of your backpack on your audience’s shoulders. Is it too light?Is it too heavy? Is the weight of the pack appropriate for the content inside?It’s important to consider these questions as you craft your presentation because theweight of your backpack– your presentation– will be on another person’s shoulders whenyou’re done.
  6. 6. Chapter 1: Simplicity is the Ultimate SophisticationDo what you can to avoid giving your audience a heavy backpack. Remember, theirbackpacks are already full– of people, places, things, emotions, dreams, and on andon. Don’t saddle your audience with the task of finding room in their “backpack” for acumbersome, bulky online presentation. Give them something light and airy that fits inthere nicely. What can I do to simplify my online presentation? How can you condense those five slides into one? How can you make that text-heavy slide into five separate slides with little text? Can you find a wayto depict a concept visually instead of with text? Can you find a way to explain that slidein a sentence rather than in a paragraph? Simplicity is key. It’s a characteristic present inany outstanding online presentation.People respond favorably to easy to understand, easy to digest information, so usewords economically in your presentation– pretend like you have to pay for each one youuse. The power of your online presentation depends on your ability to embrace simplicity.ASKYOURSELF
  7. 7. Chapter 2: Move The Audience To FeelOne of Maya Angelou’s most famous declarations is a wonderful reminder when craftingan online presentation:“People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will neverforget how you made them feel.”It may sound insensitive, but there’s a pretty good chance your audience will forgetmost of the what’s in your online presentation especially since you are presenting inperson. They have a million other things going on in their lives (and on their computerscreen, for that matter). Unfortunately, your online presentation isn’t themost important thing.If you don’t believe us, think of the last presentation you attended or viewed online.What do you remember from it? What sticks out in your mind about it? Our guess isprobably not much, which segues nicely into our next point…With an online presentation, there’s really no opportunity to leave an impressionthrough what you do. Even if you have the chance to deliver the presentation in person,unless you do something truly shocking, sincerely fascinating, or mind-blowinglyunexpected, then it’s a good bet that your audience will forget what you did.So, if there’s a good chance your audience is going to forget what you said and whatyou did (or didn’t do), where does that leave you? Well, as Angelou sagely says, “peoplewill never forget how you made them feel.” And guess what? The easiest, most effectiveway to get people to truly feel something is by telling a story.
  8. 8. Chapter 2: Move The Audience To FeelLet’s say, for example, your online presentation highlights the necessity of healthinsurance. Rather than present unmemorable, prosaic statistics about the abstract benefitsof having health insurance, tell the story of Jim, who has advanced stage lung cancerbecause when he first felt something was wrong he didn’t go to the doctor because hedidn’t have health insurance and couldn’t afford treatment. Tell the audience how Jim’sfamily is now in massive debt because of Jim’s lack of health insurance.Pull at those heartstrings! Move the audience to feel something about health insuranceby telling Jim’s story. Never placate or pander. Instead, base your stories on somethingreal, something true, something that could happen to each and every member of theaudience. Because just as Maya Angelou says, if you make a person feel something,they’ll remember.
  9. 9. Chapter 3: Storytelling & Statistics: A Compelling BondLet’s say you’re given a choice between listening to a30-minute list of statistics, and listening to a 30-minute story,which would you choose? The answer is fairly obvious, especiallyas there’s a better-than-good chance that at some point todayyou’ll consume a 30-minute story, whether through reading,listening, or watching.Our lives revolve around stories–– the stories we consume andparticipate in, the stories we tell ourselves in order to understand the world, the storieswe tell ourselves in order to understand ourselves, and on and on. If storytelling is soingrained in our daily lives, why would we exclude them when we use statistics?Perhaps most importantly, stories promote conversation rather than encourage anautomatic judgment. If you present your audience with a statistic– point blank– they haveone of two options: to agree or to disagree. If they disagree with you, they’re likely tocompletely turn off and tune out for the rest of your presentation. But if you frame thatstatistic within a story, you give the audience room to participate in conversation with it.Moreover, while statistics are heartless and dispassionate, stories are emotional andpersuasive. They encourage the audience to feel this and express that; they inspire andmost importantly, they incite action.Another way of looking at the bond between storytelling and statistics is that if youdo nothing to place your statistics into a story, your audience will do it for you. Peoplecontinually place information into the context of a story, whether consciously or not. It’ssimply how we respond to incoming stimuli.Consider the multitude of stories you tell yourself on a daily basis. Maybe you walkedpast a homeless person on the way to work this morning. What did you tell yourself abouthis life? Did you assume that he lost his job in the Recession? Did you ask yourself whathappened to his family and friends?
  10. 10. Chapter 3: Storytelling & Statistics: A Compelling BondAll of us are chockfull of preexisting information, biases and judgments, and when we’represented with new information, we attribute all our established knowledge to it.With that in mind, take control of where your audience’s minds go during yourpresentation. If you present a cumbersome statistic by itself, your audience will have amultitude of differing responses. They won’t have a collective, similar experience of thestatistic. But, if you present that stat in the context of a compelling story, they’ll respondin a similar fashion because you’ve given them the framework in which to place it.Storytelling is the most effective way to get people to understand, remember andembrace new information. Think of presidential debates–– what people tend to rememberfrom those are the stories the candidates tell, not the enigmatic statistics presented. Thebond between statistics and storytelling is undeniable.Make the most of the connection in your presentation.
  11. 11. CREATEPart II:
  12. 12. Chapter 4: Use Stock PhotographyNow that we’ve discussed the importance of simplifying content and telling stories, andgiven you an arsenal of tips and tricks to move your audience from attentive to engaged,let’s talk about creating and designing a beautiful presentation.Let’s begin with a few very common statements regarding presentation design: “Wewant to avoid stock photography.” “Nothing cheesy or staged.” “No stock photography.”Stock photography has a bad rap, and with all the Death by PowerPoint decks out there(think horrendous Clip Art, unreadable slides jammed with text and bulleted lists), wecan understand why. But eliminating stock photography from your presentation entirelyis limiting and shortsighted. With a dash of creativity and a keen eye for design, stockphotography can do wonders to visualize and disseminate your presentation’s message.The following are five slides from a presentation we designed for Jon Acuff, bestsellingauthor of Quitter and Stuff Christians Like. He wanted a smart, witty deck for his Quitterconference, and we delivered just that by using stock photography in a creative way.Let’s see what we can learn from this case study.When people think “stock photography,”a perfectly exposed, highly saturatedphoto typically comes to mind. Don’t limityourself to that narrow definition. Thegrenade to the left is a stock illustration,and it gets the slide’s point acrossmasterfully. Play around with opacitiesand gradients to nuance the photo andbackground.
  13. 13. Chapter 4: Use Stock PhotographyA surefire way to avoid cheesy,phony photos is to keep businesspeople out of it (trust us, evenSlideShare’s professional audiencedoesn’t want to see photos offake, beaming business people).Start thinking outside the box.How can you say what you wantto say without a using a photoof cheesing businesspeople?Instead of using generic photos ofpeople on this slide, our designerthought outside the box and usedskeletons of people. The sameidea is disseminated but in a muchmore creative way.A good place to start is bybrainstorming metaphors thatappropriately describe theconcept you’re discussing. In theslide to the left, for example, themessage is “Start Somewhere.”What images, words and ideascome to your mind when youthink of that phrase? We useda blank road sign, perfectlyconveying the point in a singleimage.
  14. 14. Chapter 4: Use Stock PhotographyConsider using a common colortinting or photo effect to unify allthe slides in the deck, and thinkabout integrating type into thephoto (like in the slide to the left)so it doesn’t look like it was justpasted on top.Finally, the way you angle andcrop a stock photo adds a lot ofpower to the image. The imageto the right is obviously a stockimage, but the interesting waythat it’s cropped (just showing thelegs) makes it work. Also, noticehow the designer incorporatedthe ‘patience’ text into the photoby reflectingit on the water.Subtle nuances like these makestock photography compellingand visually appealing.Don’t automatically rule outstock photography of yourpresentation. There’s a lot ofpotential hiding in those happy,shiny images.
  15. 15. Chapter 5: The Art of MinimalismWikipedia defines minimalism as a movement where:“the work is set out to expose the essence or identity of a subject through eliminating allnon-essential forms, features or concepts.”That same definition applies to an effective presentation. We should work to expose ourcontent as clearly and cleanly as possible for our audience, and the best way to do that isby getting rid of anything non-essential.A significant amount of power can be harnessed by using a minimalist style in yourpresentation. The more you eliminate unnecessary clutter, the more accessible yourinformation will be for the audience (whose attention is already fleeting at best).
  16. 16. Chapter 5: The Art of MinimalismThe following are examples of before and after slides from a presentation we workedon for Match Media Group. Notice how the before slide examples are nearly explodingwith information with no emphasis to draw the audience’s eye to what’s most important.Contrast that with the after slide examples where there’s a clean, minimalist design thatfocuses on one point.BeforeAfter
  17. 17. Chapter 5: The Art of MinimalismNotice how the beforeslide here tells the MatchMedia Mindset, whereasthe after slides shows theMatch Media Mindsetby telling the story ofJane & John’s date.While the before slideincludes a cumbersomelist of elements of thedating process, the afterslides allow the audienceto imagine the processthrough storytelling,giving the presentationa more powerful andpersonal tone. Also noticehow minimalistic the afterslides are compared tothe before slide. Breakup your information ontomultiple slides to make itmore compellingand simplistic.BeforeAfter
  18. 18. Chapter 5: The Art of MinimalismBoth the before &after slide examplesdisplay nearly the sameinformation, but theway it’s presented in theafter slide is much morecompelling because ofits minimalist design.It leaves a much morepowerful impression onthe audience than thebefore slide because itmakes the same pointbut with less information(the point here beingthat singles and marriedsspend money on differentthings). A minimalistdesign helps you say onlywhat is truly necessary toget your point across.BeforeAfter
  19. 19. Chapter 5: The Art of MinimalismThere is far too muchinformation on thebefore slide, leavingthe audience with noindication as to whatis the most importanttakeaway. The after slideis much more compelling;it’s sure to leave amemorable impression onthe audience. Of course,it’s fine to include someof the other facts on thebefore slide, but put themeach on a separate slide.Minimalist design leaves amuch more powerful andmemorable impressionon the audience. Theyknow what to look at, andthus, they know what theyshould remember.BeforeAfter
  20. 20. Chapter 6: The Power of the InfographicInfographics have quite suddenly become all the rage in the design world. So suddenly,in fact, that ‘infographic’ isn’t even an official word in the dictionary (little red squigglylines will annoyingly stain this document throughout its creation). An infographic (officially deemed an informational graphic) should express one ideacleanly and clearly, allowing readers to quickly digest and understand complicatedinformation. And as someone presenting to an up-to-date professional audience onSlideShare, it’s a good idea to become well versed in this relatively new craze that is mostlikely here to stay. Here are a few tips on how to create an effective infographic.We should get one thing straight right off the bat: Infographics are not graphs. Theyaren’t charts and they aren’t lists. An infographic tells a story with illustrations andgraphics. Sure, they can employ graphs, charts, and lists but story is an inherentpart of an infographic.Make sure that the design of your infographic reveals something about the topic athand. If you’re creating an infographic about global warming, for example, be sure to usedesign elements that speak to the environment and the world. Design your infographic ina way that it tells a story simply by looking at it. As always in the world of presentations, simplicity is king (have we said thisenough, yet?). Narrow your focus by choosing just one question to answer with eachinfographic. Don’t try stuffing a hundred ideas into one infographic. That’s a surefire wayto maximize complexity and minimize simplicity, which is precisely the opposite of whatyou want to do.
  21. 21. Chapter 6: The Power of the InfographicAvoid using legends or keys. Don’t make viewers hunt for information.Don’t make them look up and down and around and this way and that way. This isn’t“Where’s Waldo?”  The flow of an infographic should be intuitive. Ideally, viewers shouldstart at the top and simply follow it down until the end. Minimal text is ideal; the designshould say it all.Another crucial consideration when creating an infographic is ensuring that the dataincluded is entirely accurate. If one number is three times larger than another and youwant to show the difference in the sizes with circles, make sure to create a circle that isaccurately three times larger than the other. An infographic loses its meaning entirelyif the data is not accurately depicted. Don’t be misleading, and never deceive viewersin your depiction of data. Your audience is smart and well educated. They’ll know whenthey’re being duped.Also, be as transparent as possible. Make citations easy to find, and be open andhonest with where you found the information featured in the infographic. Not only shouldyou have nothing to hide if you’re presenting data accurately, but you lend much morecredibility to your presentation if sources are there looking viewers straight in the face. Infographic is the new buzzword in the land of designers and creatives, and it looks likethey’re here to stay. Embrace this new method to disseminate information, and with theaforementioned tips you’ll be able impress the professional audience of SlideShare withyour neat infographic housed inside your beautiful presentation.
  22. 22. 22MaximizationPart III:
  23. 23. 23Chapter 7: Be a Thought Leader for Your AudienceHere’s a question for the ages:If a tree falls in a forest and no one is around to hear it, does it make a sound?A myriad of philosophers have mused over the question’s implications regardingmeaning, observation, and reality, but Scientific American, true to form, answered it neatlysans philosophical concerns: “The falling of the tree or any other disturbance will producethe vibration of the air. If there be no ears to hear, there will be no sound.”We’d like to propose a similar question in regards to presentations: If there is apresentation and no one is around to hear it (or view it, as in this particular case), does itmake a sound? Sure, the deck will appear on a computer screen, but it may as well not.With no audience to view it, the presentation will simply float on, undigested, into a void.Your audience is the most important part of a presentation, and don’t you forget it.Strive to be a thought leader for LinkedIn’s professional audience. Don’t settle for beingjust another face in the crowd. Stand out by engaging your audience so much they can’tstand to look away.The first step in cultivating that kind of engagement with your audience is to do yourhomework. You wouldn’t present to a roomful of teenagers the same way you’d presentto the professionals on LinkedIn, so know a thing or two about your audience. Better yet,learn as much as possible about them, so you can tailor your presentation’s message tothem directly and act as a thought leader.
  24. 24. 24Chapter 7: Be a Thought Leader for Your AudienceIf you know specifics about your audience– where they’re from, what work they do, whattheir interests are– you can speak in particulars regarding how your message is relevantto their lives. You can tell them in detail why it should matter to them. Remember: Youraudience doesn’t care about what you want; they care aboutwhat they want. So align your message with their interests.Once you accept the rather humbling fact that the onlyperson that cares about what you want is you (and likewisefor all the men and women on SlideShare), you should take abrisk walk around in your audience’s shoes. Get comfortable in those shoes because it willimprove your presentation immensely if you commit to memory what it’s like to livein them.Become a master at viewing things from your audience’s point of view so that you cancraft your presentation specifically for them. View yourself, your company, and your storyfrom the eyes of your audience on SlideShare, so you can better explain to them why yourmessage is important and why they should care.To conclude, we’d like to offer a slightly more nuanced version of our introductoryquestion: If there is a presentation and an attentive yet unengaged audience is present,does it make a sound? Sure, but not one that anyone will remember.Be unashamedly, unabashedly, unambiguously interested in your audience. Know themlike the back of your hand, walk around for a while in their shoes, and engage themunrelentingly, so you can become a thought leader in their eyes.
  25. 25. 25Chapter 8: Incite Movement with a Call to ActionNow that you’ve streamlined and simplified your content, told compelling and emotionalstories, and engaged your audience effectively, don’t forget to call themto action. Because what’s the point of your presentation if not to incitesome kind of action or movement?A call to action can range from something as concrete as “Try thisproduct today!” to something as abstract as “Seize the Opportunity!”Regardless, the most important thing is to tell the audience (simply) howthey can follow up on the information you’ve just provided in your presentation.To begin, decide how you want your audience to respond to your presentation. Canthey buy your product? Can they implement your process in the workplace? Can theysign up for a newsletter, follow your company on LinkedIn or Twitter, or head over to yourwebsite? Give them all the options and avenues available to respond to your presentation.Obviously, telling the audience why they should take action is what the bulk of yourpresentation is for, but don’t forget to highlight those reasons again as a preface to yourfinal call to action.Think of the top two or three reasons why what you’re offering them is something theycan’t refuse. Compel them to accept your call to action. As we mentioned before, peoplelike to hear about themselves and how something will benefit them, so appeal to thosecharacteristics. Tell them how this-and-that will change their life for the better.Finally, a call to action can also be as simple as posing a challenge or question thatincites the audience to think further about your presentation’s topic. Leave them witha little food for thought that encourages them to think more about your topic and theproblems and solutions it presented. But above all, always remember to include a waythey can reach out to you for more information. Be available to your audience. After all,the best response you can ask for is some kind of interaction with a viewer.
  26. 26. 26Chapter 9: Promote Your Presentation with PurposeFinally, after hours, hours and hours of work– simplifying, streamlining, storytelling, andcreating– you have a final product: A beautiful, brilliant, compelling presentation. Butthe work’s not over quite yet. Now it’s time to get as many eyeballs as possible on yourpresentation. Because– harkening back to our tree in the forest metaphor– without thoseeyeballs, the power of your presentation is severely limited.So, how can you go about sharing your epic presentation with an audience other thanthat of SlideShare? Well first, grab ahold of the low-hanging fruit: the rest of your socialmedia channels. Which means Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Tumblr, LinkedIn, Pinterest,maybe even Reddit. Hopefully, you already have a substantial following on thosechannels– a following that’s interested in you and your presentation’s topic.With any luck, you’ll get a great response after exhausting those channels, and yourwell-crafted call to action will be acted upon as you had designed.From there, it’s time to get creative and start thinking outside the box about how youcan maximize the reach of your presentation. Since this was originally posted online onSlideShare, are there any upcoming speaking opportunities you can sign up for to presentthe presentation in person? How about potential or existing clients who would appreciateseeing the presentation? Do you have a strong lead who’d be impressed in a well-designed, engaging presentation that gave him or her a better look into your business?Schedule time to brainstorm where this kind of potential lies. Don’t underestimate thepower of your presentation; people love clicking through beautifully designed, interestingmaterial, which is precisely what your presentation offers.
  27. 27. 27Chapter 9: Promote Your Presentation with PurposeLastly, keep in mind how resourceful SlideShare is in providing you a detailed levelof feedback on your deck. It automatically captures all sorts of analytics, including thenumber of downloads and embeds, total views, favorites and more. And when theviewer comes to the end of the deck, a lead capture form pops up, so your viewer hasthe opportunity to contact you for more information. Needless to say, SlideShare is theideal place to learn who’s been looking at your presentation and who’s been particularlyengaged by it.In short, do whatever you can to get as many people as possible to look through yourpresentation. Don’t limit the number of people who see your presentation to just theaudience on LinkedIn, but rather, work to capitalize on the amount of work you’ve putinto your presentation by promoting it as much as possible. The world is ready and willingto see what you have to say, so make sure you give them the chance. 
  28. 28. 28Final ThoughtsWhew! You’ve made it to the end of our guide on how to build an online presentationthat will blow the socks off the professional audience on SlideShare. By following thesesteps– conceptualization, creation and maximization– and embracing these tips and tricks,your SlideShare content ad will provide a rich, unforgettable experience for the audience.Begin by simplifying and streamlining your content, and focus on telling stories as muchas possible throughout your presentation. Once you’ve nailed down the content, it’s timeto move onto the creation stage where you’ll visualize the words on the page. And finally,when you have a beautiful, engaging presentation, capitalize on that investment by givinga clear call to action, establishing yourself as a thought leader and working to maximizethe number of views on your deck.Hopefully, this how-to guide has helped steer you in the right direction when it comesto designing a presentation for professionals on SlideShare. Don’t settle for creatinganything less than a presentation that will make a clear mark on the world.Let’s get started!Powered by:ETHOS3.COM