A Tale of Two Decks (Slideshare Experiment)

Tale of Two Decks Image


This is an experiment on Slideshare. This is…A Tale of Two Decks.

Let’s start at the beginning. Recently, I shared the stage with Michelle Killebrew at the Intelligent Content Conference 2015 in San Francisco. If you didn’t attend the event, you missed our somewhat unorthodox presentation where we told “a story about storytelling.”

Note: All videos from the ICC conference are available online. Watch the video of our Long and Short presentation. This is my Intelligent Content Conference 2015 Recap blog post.

Usually the best way to understand a presentation is, well, to see it presented. Realistically, there are only so many conferences any one person can attend, so a lot of us check out Slideshare for interesting and useful presentations.

We planned to simply upload the deck, but that would lose some meaning, since we can’t be there to offer the voice overs and other descriptions. I’ve uploaded other decks in the past, most of them about healthcare marketing and visual storytelling. The decks are clear during the presentation, but would be a bit vague if you didn’t see it presented in person.

This time we decided to try something different. We maintained one master deck, which we called the Original Version. Other than a few minor edits, the deck was a record of how we presented at ICC. The second was a version with comments and call outs, which we called the Annotated Version. This version included slides that we’d removed for time and added several additional slides to enhance the download experience. More on this later.

We uploaded two decks simultaneously and cross linked them for maximum discoverability. We coordinated the meta tags and descriptions as well.

Michelle posted this, the Original version:
Long and Short of Content Strategy | Original Version

I posted this, the Annotated version:
Long and Short of Content Strategy | Annotated Version

Post-Posting Notes
This was an educational experiment. Let me share some of my initial observations, based on a week of activity.

Because Michelle has a rather large and constantly growing Twitter base (@ShellKillebrew) and a solid base of Slideshare followers (slideshare.net/MichelleKillebrew), her version of the deck trended immediately. Within the first few hours of the decks being live, Michelle’s version appeared on the Slideshare homepage as a trending deck. As Michelle was immediately over 300 views, my version of the deck hadn’t made it to even 100 views.

The next day, Slideshare featured the Annotated version of the deck on their homepage. Views skyrocketed, as did likes and downloads. They even gave me this nifty confirmation email.

Slideshare email graphic

Email acknowledgement from Slideshare.

The Annotated version took off and surprised me. I expected that the views would have been about equal. The Original version had trended immediately, since Michelle has such a large social following. I suspect that the views would have been much closer, if Slideshare hadn’t featured the Annotated version on their homepage.

More Thoughts on the Annotated Version
In a presentation deck, you can’t always show every slide, nor do you want to. When you get on that stage, you are not just talking. You are performing. You need to distill the performance down to something that will both educate and entertain. That means removing a whole bunch o’ slides.

The Annotated version allowed us to replace important slides, especially two positioning the concept of storytelling right in the beginning.

We also added a few less-common slides, like a Credits page. Even though Michelle and I built the primary story, we had help from many contributors. This gave us the opportunity to acknowledge the other contributors, which we’ll do again in the future.

It’s worth mentioning Ivan Ruiz, who works with me at Ogilvy CommonHealth Worldwide in Parsippany. He’s my go-to designer for visual storytelling. I treat him as a partner in my process and he contributed significantly to the way we unfolded our story. Here’s an infographic that he created about plotting a visual story.

We added some tweets to the end of the deck, but they didn’t display well on Slideshare. The rendering is grainy, so the next time I include something like that, I’ll share the tweets as text. Slideshare handles text well, but compresses images.

Overall, performance was better than expected. We’ve gathered some data that will help us formulate insights that we can use for brands we serve.

And I managed to reference A Tale of Two Cities without ever saying something goofy like “it was the best of slides, it was the worst of slides.”



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  • Congratulations-nice position on content strategy and articulation on an engaged user’s journey.

  • Thanks, Chris! Always means a lot coming from you.

    Readers out there, check out Chris’ own website: http://www.chriscullmann.com/. Chock full o’ goodness and smartness.