Slideshare Presentation How To, 5 Tips

by Jon Thomas on May 03, 2011
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Slideshare How ToWhen 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)

Effective Presentation Imagery

*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.

Post Author

Jon Thomas is a digital storyteller with a passion for helping organizations and brands effectively tell their stories, engage audiences, and build deep relationships. Jon is the Communications Director at Story Worldwide, the first post-advertising agency, and the founder of...

  • Jon, great tips here! The biggest is, never prepare presentations that suck in the first place. :) And definitely spare the rest of us by not sharing your sub-par presentations on Slideshare or elsewhere.

  • Nice tips Jon!

  • So I recently created a slide deck for BlogDash because I was getting requests from potential clients who wanted to share it with their team.

    A slide deck about the features of a product is pretty hard to make entertaining and will inevitably have a lot of words in it.

    How would you suggest I make a slide deck more entertaining?

    And is there a point in a business posting a slide deck about their product to slideshare?

  • I can’t disagree with that!

  • Thanks much Chris.

  • I’ll answer your questions backwards:

    Yes, there is a point to posting a deck onto slideshare about a product. If you design the deck correctly, it’s an easy way to share it without forcing people to download it.

    I think you need to change your perspective. It’s really hard to do an effective product run-through via slideshare. There are technologies that allow you to record voice with a presentation, but if you’re going that route, you might as well just record a live demo.

    Instead, create something more akin to an eBook, where the audience expects words + imagery, where they’re usually split 50/50. PowerPoint presentations are split more closely to 75/25, with the emphasis on imagery.

    It’s probably not the best channel though, if you want to get deep into product features. If you simply want to introduce them to the different pages within a site, then maybe it would work.

  • Anonymous

    This is the blog post I needed, I’m so JV at slidedecks. Thanks for a great post, Jon!

  • Thanks Jon. This is great! I was just recently asked by a client (who happens to be an author and storyteller) to help him put together some slides for online distribution. This is really on-time.

  • This is an outstanding post and as a SlideShare “newbie” I was able to extract a lot of plausible advice that I can quickly turn into actionable outcomes. Thanks Jon.

  • Nice tips, and b beautiful presentations.

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  • This is an OUTSTANDING Post, Jon.

    I know and study this stuff a lot, and added to my knowledge here.


  • Thanks so much Fred. I really appreciate it.

  • Thanks John. Most everyone is a Slideshare “newbie” so no worries. Even implementing just a few of these tips will help.

  • Great to hear!

  • Most people are JV Janet, so no worries. Just keep working on it!

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  • Great post Jon – especially the tip on uploading in PDF format. Re-uploaded a couple of mine and it made a big difference. Thanks. I’d be interested to hear your thoughts on the value or otherwise of upgrading to a Slideshare PRO account.

  • Peter Nguyen

    Nice tips! With all these tools available to market and brand your business, the modern marketer is so lucky. Haven’t considered using Slideshare before, but will post my most useful and important content today.

  • Great presentation and excellent tips/ Thx for keeping it fresh.

  • Thanks for reading and commenting!

  • It took me a few tries to realize that PDF was the best way to go. Glad I could help. I don’t have a Pro account, however, so I can’t really comment on that. 

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  • Great presentations! Thanks for sharing the ideas. Great for Inspiration!

  • Thanks for sharing these ideas, Jon. I have not really considered Slideshare much but this breathes some new life back into the idea. 

  • Aloha Jon, Thanks for the plug on Smoke! We really appreciate it! : )

  • My pleasure as always Cory! You guys do some great work.

  • Good tips and information. I can add that build your presentation taking into account your SEO strategy.

  • Tabitha Miller

    The tip about animations was extremely helpful! I am a teacher so I use my presentation to ask questions and then animate the answers after the kids answer. I just copied each slide and erased the answer if the first copy of the slide and it works perfectly now! Thanks

  • Glad to hear Tabitha!

  • kcterry


    Do you know if video I insert in a keynote will ever play if I import to Slideshare?

  • Creating our first company slideshare presentation!
    Thanks Jon for validating that PDF really is the best way to do it.

  • sheley fields

    my assistant was searching for IRS 2290 a few days ago and used an online platform that has a huge forms library . If you require IRS 2290 too , here’s a