Thriving on SlideShare with Leslie Bradshaw

I recently got the chance to pick the brain of business leader and Beutler Ink collaborator Leslie Bradshaw, managing partner at Made by Many. Our topic of choice? SlideShare. Always one step ahead of the tech game, Leslie mastered use of SlideShare before most people created a username. She has over 630 followers on the platform and many of her decks garner over 40,000 views. Her most viral presentation took off on her birthday (May 1st) three years ago—The Practitioner's Guide to Creating Content Like a Publisher — and broke 179,000 views (and counting)! Here we talk about her biggest mistakes and top keys for success. To quote your Facebook, you were an early adopter and passionate evangelist of SlideShare. How long have you been on Slideshare? How did you first use this platform?

I started lurking in 2007 and published my first SlideShare on December 11, 2008, following a presentation I had given at the Friedman Foundation about social media best practices. A lot of my early presentations mirrored what the community was writing about at that time: social media, social media, social media. I look at it now and laugh—crazy to think we all needed to convince the world of something that has become so ubiquitous.

Where do you implement SlideShare?

I use it primarily for uploading the slide decks that accompany the talks I give; posting right before I give the talk helps get a high density of clicks and shares, which is important to trend. When I have the time and think about it, I’ve embedded them in blog posts (and have even been lucky enough to have big names do the same).

What were your biggest mistakes on SlideShare?

As you can see from my early days, I made some JV mistakes: I cringe looking at my old URL slugs (file naming does not a good headline make!), cover slides (so generic!), and my old screen name (lol, first name + middle name + favorite number from high school sports).

What have you learned through the years?

Where I’ve had the biggest successes, a combination of these elements have been in place:

1. My real name as my screen name

Screenshot 2015-04-21 12.48.53
Screenshot 2015-04-21 12.48.53

2. Beautiful cover slide (think of it like the “still frame” strategy you would employ on YouTube)

Screenshot 2015-04-21 12.48.18
Screenshot 2015-04-21 12.48.18

3. SEO-friendly title (i.e., what are things people would search for and / or click on)

4. Taking it live just before I give a big talk and make sure the audience knows the URL (bitly it!) so they can tweet to those not in the room

5. Getting a ‘homepage feature’ boost from the SlideShare overlords

Should a SlideShare be able to stand alone, or is it really meant to go along with a presentation?

If possible, and if you really want to teach something, I would recommend including more text than you would if you were presenting live to an audience. There is a 100 percent chance that your SlideShare viewers will not have you sitting there at their desk to hear you touch on the nuances and metaphors your visuals are meant to convey. I’ve sometimes made two versions of my decks: one for my visual presentation and one for the “leave behind” audience on SlideShare.

Screenshot 2015-04-23 16.16.01
Screenshot 2015-04-23 16.16.01

Who are some of your favorite SlideShare users or decks?

Always a huge fan of what Jesse Desjardins puts out on SlideShare. His “You Suck at PowerPoint” SlideShare has nearly 500k views and absolutely nails what’s wrong with decks today (spoiler: it isn’t the medium, it’s YOU!)

Screenshot 2015-04-23 09.27.26
Screenshot 2015-04-23 09.27.26

I’ve also long admired Tara Hunt and her storytelling style. She really has perfected the art of the SlideShare deck—some of which I know she has given a talk around, while others I think are specially made for SlideShare. I remember when “So you want to do a startup, eh?” and “The 10 Mistakes I've you don't have to” came out. They both were so honest and raw. No wonder that they have almost 700k views combined. I salute her!

The first step to a successful presentation is a beautiful deck. Get a head start with our customizable PowerPoint template: