Your first baby steps to getting started with SlideShare

Updated to Business on June 28, 2023.

For a couple of years I’ve been raving about the not-so-secret power of SlideShare. Typically, I am greeted with a response like “Huh? SlidesShare, what’s that?”. Well, for all you unwashed marketers, let me introduce you to a very exciting and creative way to get your message shared, improve your SEO ranking and even grow your mailing list.

Welcome to SlideShare

In the world of social media, LinkedIn is the king of professional networking with some 350 million members. That’s huge.

In 2012 LinkedIn acquired SlideShare and now the two platforms work together seamlessly. SlideShare allows you to present your slide decks on-line and is in the top 120 most visited sites in the world with 70 million professionals viewing slide decks every month.

Google has taken notice of this powerhouse duo and includes SlideShare decks in your search engine rankings.

“Many businesses are missing out on the huge potential of SlideShare as a social marketing and lead conversion tool.” Peg Fitzpatrick

My early adventures with SlideShare were uneventful forays into a world I didn’t understand (it didn’t help that my slide decks were lame). After a bit of absence I decided to take another stab at the beast and was surprised to see SlideShare promoting my decks, placing on their home page—even emailing me awards! What happened?

If SlideShare likes your show they let you know and they promote it.

What happened was my message was more on target, my decks were better and I did a bit of light promotion to kick-start the launch. Since my re-entry into the world of SlideShare, I’ve had over 150,000 views, thousands of downloads and continue to attract some 200-300 opt-in’s to my list every month. Sound interesting for you?

First let’s deal with the “why.”


Imaging having thousands of potential customers learning from you, gaining trust in you—even joining your mailing list—all within a few days. That’s pretty easy to do with SlideShare.

Yes, you have to put a little effort into creating your message, putting the slides together and uploading it to SlideShare. But I haven’t seen the kind of results I can get on SlideShare on any other social media platform.

Here’s what you can expect:

  • For businesses, SlideShare is a unique way to showcase the solutions you provide. If you go down that route, think of your deck like a speech to your local Chamber—the message is primarily about your solutions, promoting products and services is secondary.
  • Your SlideShare decks can improve search engine rankings. With a little attention to title, keywords and tags your SlideShare contributions can bump your Google search engine rankings.
  • Your completed SlideShare deck is a stand-alone presentation—imbed in your blog, add to your LinkedIn profile, email to enquiries and promote in Facebook, Twitter or any of your social media channels.
  • You can easily add followers to your mailing list by using SlideShare’s Lead Generation tool or including direct links to your web site.
  • You can upload content that you make available only to a select audience. Just select “Private” in Privacy Settings, share the link with your VIP customers and they’ll have access to your exclusive content.

PRO TIP: You can direct people to a specific page in your deck by adding a “/“ and the number of the slide after the URL to your deck. This is a slick way to bring your audiences’ attention to relevant content in your SlideShare deck.

If I want to send people to page 7, I add “/7” to the link, like this:

Before I jump into details (as I’m prone to do), here’s a snapshot of steps you go through to load your first slide show. Note, you can also upload video and infographics to SlideShare.

  1. Create your slide deck in PowerPoint, Keynote (Mac). I’ll discuss other options below.
  2. Export your deck into a PDF (one click in either PowerPoint and Keynote).
  3. Upload your PDF into a free SlideShare account with all the appropriate keywords and tags (I cover this more below).
  4. Presto! People start viewing, commenting, liking and downloading your show.

A well-designed deck could have thousands of views with in 24 hour and it keeps growing after that. The faster the deck gets traffic the more it’s promoted by SlideShare.

A great example of sharply refined lessons and captivating graphic design is Jesse Desjardins’s “You suck at Powerpoint!” (over 2 million views).

Jesse Desjardins’s “You suck at Powerpoint!”

Now that you know the “why” and understand the basics, let’s look at how to build your first SlideShare deck.


Job one is to get crystal clear on what you want to share. If you start with a vague idea about your message, your slide show will be a forgettable mess. Just like a good speech, you need to focus on a unique solution to the problem you know your audience has.

My most successful SlideShare (over 36,000 views and 1,200 downloads) is entitled “How to be more positive (in only 5 seconds).” The problem I was attacking was overcoming life’s adversities (I’m hoping everyone wants to be positive) and the twist is “in only 5 seconds.”

My SlideShare: “How to be more positive in only 5 minutes”

Start with these questions:

  1. What questions am I repeatedly asked by my customers? Example: “Get paid to speak – find a topic that sells” – Moi(!)
  2. What part of a bigger problem (like marketing, weight loss, leadership, or conflict resolution) can I help solve in less than five minutes (the length of time it takes to click through 30-40 slides)? Example: “How People Really Hold and Touch (Their Phones)” – Steven Hoober
  3. How can I present my ideas with specific action steps? Example: “3 Powerful Leadership Lessons” – Guy Kawasaki
  4. Can I design my solution to be a little radical, controversial, contrarian, or simply so blunt it stands out? Example: “What’s worth more: a piano, a camera, or cat pics – everything you know about ROI is wrong) – Gary Vaynerchuk

Next, let’s look at the steps to build your slide deck.


First, don’t be intimidated. Even if your last stab at being creative was grade 4 and involved a lot of face paint—you can do it.

Before I start building slides I always write out my copy (the text that will show in the slides) in a word processor. Once done, I revisit it over a few days and edit my copy. I also get feedback from other people on my team. I’ve learned the hard way to not start building slides until my writing is nailed.

Do not pass go until you are happy with your copy and you’ve gotten feedback from others. Trust me, this will save you a lot of grief later.

I use Keynote (Mac) to create all my decks. It’s super easy to load, crop and resize images and add basic graphics. A little trick to get organized, is to first load the copy for each slide into Presenter’s Notes (to make notes visible go to view>presenter’s notes).

Of course the most popular tool for building slides is PowerPoint (PC or Mac). Use the default slide format of 4:3 (don’t worry about this—I’m trying to look smart).

Popular graphics tools like Canva and Picmonkey will work, but note you can only export your work as an image, so you can’t edit it later. Also, Canva limits you to only 30 slides.

You can also try Haiku Deck – it’s a nifty on-line tool for the graphically challenged with over 20 templates and automatic graphic editing (you can export your work to PowerPoint and there’s a free version.)

PRO TIP: I recommend you whiz through some of the most popular shows on SlideShare to get a feel for language and style. I lean towards short headlines, to-the-point language and very few bullets.

1,2,3 how I create my slides


I can’t stress this enough: make it pretty! Well, if not pretty, at least make it creative and fun to flip through. There are over 400,000 slide shows uploaded to SlideShare every month—you need to make yours stand out.

The good news is you don’t have to be a graphic designer—you can get loads of ideas just by looking at popular slide shows (number of views).

There are lots of free sites to get visuals. My favourites are:

  • pixabay – half a million free pics (tip: beside the search bar click the drop down “All images” and select Horizontal)
  • New Old Stock – great for black and white and historic pics.
  • Compfight – quick access the to massive inventory in Flickr. (tip: be very careful to obey Creative Commons rules for each pic)
  • Unsplash – gorgeous, license-free images (mostly nature pics)
Stunning free images from (


Here’s a couple of tricks I use to make my decks more interesting:

    • Big visuals. Your slides will be more interesting if you crop your images so the focus point (the person or object) is filing 20-30% of the slide;
    • Use only two or thee fonts. I like to use: Helvetica Neue (there are 14 variations which means I can vary the look while staying consistent), Pacifico, and Chunk Five;
    • Large font—I use 44 pt for headers and 28-32 pt for text;
    • Only one thought per slide makes your deck easier to read (and you’ll lose less readers);
    • Keep your reader moving—use short, pithy sentences and remove unnecessary words like “that” and “but”;
    • use contractions like: you’re, it’s, there’s and don’t;
    • use em-dashes to create a strong break in a sentence—and replace parentheses—like that!

      Make your slides interesting with a few style tricks.

PRO TIP: Your first slide has to be your best slide. I always create it after I see how the theme to the deck evolves.


Just like your blog, you can update your slide deck as often as you want and you won’t lose any traffic numbers. If someone reports a spelling mistake, or you want to improve one of the slides, do it—remember millions of people are searching for your content every month.

In a future post I’ll show you exactly how to use SlideShare to build your mailing list. We’ve had over 1,000 opt-ins to our list from just one SlideShare. Stay tuned for that one!