Content Creation

“It’s Not for Waffling”: Doug Kessler on How and When to Use SlideShare

By February 10, 2014 No Comments

Doug Kessler made a name for himself with his fun, sprightly, and sometimes controversial SlideShare presentations. The co-founder and creative director at Velocity Partners never dithers when it comes to his slides. He combines logic and emotion that grips.

His most recent presentation candidly laid out the search for meaning in B2B marketing, and immediately moved up the charts.

We interviewed Doug as one of the 13 experts in our Masters of SlideShare presentation. Here’s the full interview, which is full of tips and advice.

When did you first start using SlideShare?

Our first SlideShare post was on March 9, 2009, called “Twitter for B2B Marketing” (now really out of date!). That’s when we first saw SlideShare as a medium in itself, not just a place where PowerPoint decks go to die.

How do you know an idea deserves to become a SlideShare as opposed to a blog post, infographic, etc.?

I like SlideShare when I have a strong narrative thread and a well-structured story arc. It’s not for waffling or for posts where nuance and insight and detail are important.

I like it for emotion-charged pieces, especially ‘rants’ like our ‘Crap’ SlideShare.

The SlideShare community adds a massive bonus to your content.

What should be the purpose behind any SlideShare, and how do you know when you’ve achieved it?

Goals vary by piece (awareness, education, leads, thought leadership, etc.), but I can’t imagine a SlideShare that doesn’t have these metrics: views, shares, likes, downloads, embeds. Then traffic to your site and conversions.

The SlideShare community adds a massive bonus to your content: millions of people who may never discover you anywhere else.

Tell us about the importance of design when producing a SlideShare presentation. Is it worth engaging a designer? Can you do it on your own?

Design is critical, but every piece needn’t have super-high design or production values.

Simple pieces can be okay to do yourself, if you have a decent eye for type and keep it simple. If not, you need a designer who understands the medium. They will add a huge amount.

What do all breakout SlideShare presentations have in common? How do you “bottle” that element in your own?

Great SlideShares are like great content…sharp, insightful, passionate and, above all, confident.

For me, they’re made for the medium. Always.

But you can do that with a mediocre piece, too. Great SlideShares are like great content in general: sharp, insightful, passionate and, above all, confident. Great SlideShares start with great ideas.

When crafting a presentation for it what are the “rules” or guidelines you follow?

  • Treat it like a specific medium, not a place to dump presentations made for other uses (like live presentation).
  • Tell a linear story, with very few words per slide.
  • Make the type big enough to be read even if the reader doesn’t choose ‘full screen’ mode.
  • Make it sexy and visual and bold and bright and fun.
  • Don’t overtly sell (or no one will embed it).

For someone just getting started with SlideShare, what would be your first piece of advice?

Have fun. Don’t be dull. Tell a story. Tap into something you’re passionate about. Go for it.

Jesse Noyes

About Jesse Noyes

Former Senior Director of Content Marketing at Kapost. I enjoy learning, teaching and eating...not necessarily in that order.