Cultivate and Grow Your Following

How to use SlideShare presentations for more than public speaking

For years, PowerPoint slidedecks dominated boardrooms and marketing meetings for companies around the globe. With the introduction of SlideShare six years ago, a whole new platform appeared, and with it the opportunity to share slideshows in a new way. Now, technologists, programmers and developers are using slidedecks to collaborate, demonstrate their professional knowledge, and move quickly in an open, agile workplace. For example, you can:

  • connect with other professionals who are working on similar projects.
  • quickly learn what is being presented at industry conferences.
  • identify others who are working on technologies and projects that you’re interested in.
  • learn how companies and organizations are using specific technologies, and follow their progress.

Use slides to collaborate and innovate

Slidedecks are a quick and easy way to visually collaborate, especially with remote teams.  For example, one of the tactics development teams employ is a to capture a series of screenshots assembled with notes into a slidedeck.  Instead of emailing to the group, upload the deck privately to SlideShare, send team members the url, and update the deck in one place as changes occur.  This is much more expedient than emailing separate screenshot images to team, and allows you to manage version control.

Bill Scott, Senior Director of User Interface Engineering at PayPal, uses slidedecks as visual communication tools to facilitate rapid innovation. Slides are created early in the design and development process, giving all team members something to react to.  Feedback and comments are incorporated into the deck, quickly jumpstarting the iterations to follow.

Capture lean artifacts

Since many of the in-person tools used to get a project off the ground using lean methods and agile work process are handwritten, capture photos of the items and then create a slideshow as an artifact of the findings.   The agile process is meant to facilitate speed and change.  Long-winded documents are replaced by hand-written Post It® notes.  Creating a slideshow of these manually-created artifacts allows for quick, accurate distribution of the days’ work product.

Show colleagues how your (or someone else’s) team is using a process to improve productivity, as Mark Ringer, VP of Engineering for Rally Software, did in this slideshow.  By including photographs of teams at work demonstrating a new practice, you make the ideas more believable and less abstract than with just a verbal or written description.

Expedite management buy-in

Often when a presentation is made to upper management, either requesting approval or additional resources for a project, the slides are comprised of text that is read by the presenter like a script.  If you only have ten minutes to pitch your idea to management, for heaven’s sake don’t just read!  Your slidedeck is the perfect vehicle for giving context to your idea by visually connecting it to the need for what you’re pitching.  Tell the story of how you came to the idea, including the problem it will solve.

For proposals that are presented by departments other than your own, provide colleagues with individual slides that they can incorporate into their final presentation.  This ensures that they are representing your team, and it can help:

  • get approval for a new project.
  • convey the technical requirements.
  • accurately communicate risks, timeframe and resource needs.

Contributing to a colleague’s slidedeck shows that you have been included in the planning, and have contributed input about how the new initiative will affect your team.

Make the most of Lanyard

Lanyard is a great resource for finding slideshows presented at technical conferences.   When  speakers upload a presentation to SlideShare, they can add the SlideShare link to Lanyard. You’ll find the most recent listings of slideshows shared on Lanyard in the “slides” feed. You can also track topics, which is helpful for staying up to speed on current trends being presented at conferences that you aren’t able to attend in person.

Keep up with best practices – many of the world’s technologists, developers, designers and business leaders are conveying trends in best practices via slidedecks.  The move toward visual thinking and communication is a growing trend, especially as people are bombarded with information.

Cultivate and grow your following

Even if you work for a large company or organization, most career experts will tell you you’re in business for yourself.  Make sure that you are positioning yourself as being current on technologies and trends, as well as participating in your professional communities. You may not do public speaking, but you can still create slidedecks that will show that you are knowledgeable about your area of expertise. Give a new twist to an established topic or introduce an idea and explore it with your slides.

Many of the experts in any field speak publicly about their work.  You can find their slidedecks by searching on Lanyard or SlideShare.  Follow these individuals so you can stay up to date with their work, and also see who they are following and favoriting.  This is a great way to build your network, increase your knowledge and stay current with a particulate topic or area of expertise.

If you are already doing public speaking, make sure that you give your slidedecks a long tail by publishing them on SlideShare and related sites. For example, Robert Nyman is a technical evangelist for Mozilla, and editor of Mozilla Hacks. Robert uses SlideShare and Lanyard together to share his presentations with a larger audience and to demonstrate his experience as a public speaker.

On Lanyard, Robert posts his upcoming speaking engagements as well as archives of past events.  On SlideShare, all of Robert’s slidedecks, including those not listed on Lanyard, are available in one place and give him the benefit of SlideShare’s strong SEO. Viewers can embed his presentations on their own blog. When they do, both the author and Robert get the benefit of each other’s readers and viewers.

A note about SlideShare for developers

In addition to using SlideShare as a presentation publishing platform, SlideShare offers a number of resources for developers.  The SlideShare API is available free for non-commercial use, and is based upon the REST model. In addition, the SlideShare engineering blog contains lots of useful information for developers, including their own stories of trial and error when introducing new technologies and practices.


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