Tinkering with your SlideShares can make a huge difference.
Case in point: Two months ago, I published “A Humane Approach to Business (or Why Companies Must Stop Torturing Their Customers).” It had a different title when I first published it — one I’ve long since forgotten — and a completely different cover page. Almost no one viewed it.
A few hours later, I changed the text on the cover page and attracted a few hundred views. Not good enough. That’s when I changed the entire look and feel of the title slide. I added the pop-comic evil doctor image and changed the title to what you see now.
That SlideShare now has more than 129,000 views. That’s the power of tinkering.
Truth is, almost none of my SlideShares resemble what I posted the day they were released. The other week, I changed the title of my 7-month-old deck, “7 Reasons Why Great Careers Require Imagination,” to “7 Reasons to Exercise Your Imagination.” I also reformatted every slide and fiddled with the copy a bit. Then I wrote a new LinkedIn article and embedded the updated SlideShare in it, generating another 25,000 views. The deck has now been viewed 87,000 times.
Sometimes you don’t know what you want to say until you try to say it. The process of creating a SlideShare from scratch is very different from updating one after you have seen how people react (or don’t react). It is much easier to improve an existing document than to build one out of thin air.
This is why I don’t understand it when a client tells me their latest SlideShare failed to attract an audience. A SlideShare does not “fail” until you give up on it, and I almost never give up on a SlideShare. You shouldn’t either.
Here are some tips for tinkering:
Tinker with your title. Don’t make people think — your title, which should provide insight to readers on what your deck is about, should be obvious. Try writing 10 or 20 alternate titles, and see if any are better than your original. If you change the title, also consider changing the accompanying visual image(s).
Focus on flow. Go through the transitions from one slide to the next. Are there any spots where you might be losing readers? Fix them.
Review all your images. Can you delete generic images and replace them with ones that get your point across with few or no words?
Mercilessly cut words. Unless you are Mary Meeker, the more words you include, the more people are likely to tune out. Highlight your key points and cut out all the rest.
Have ONE key message. If your SlideShare has more than one, cut out the other messages and use them to create separate decks.
Examine your fonts. Fix any problems, because crummy formatting is a sure sign to readers that you did not invest much time or effort into your piece.
Find something — anything — to make your work stand out. It might be humor, bold visuals or insanely few words. You could “speak” in rhyme or use song lyrics. People are bored to tears by the same old routines. Mix it up.
EDIT> by Matt Hampel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.
Based on a work at http://www.flickr.com/photos/a2community/2953289727/.