The Collective Force of SlideShare August 22, 2013 by LeAnna J. Carey

There is much more to the SlideShare story than the ‘presentations no longer need to suck’ factor; SlideShare has opened up a distinctively new creative class of visual thinkers doing their part to make complexity disappear. Think about it, do you understand the world more through images or words? Studies consistently suggest that visual communication can be more powerful than verbal, and SlideShare has successfully run with this idea to the tune of $119 million in cash and stock, when they were purchased by LinkedIn last year.

Drew Marshall and I had the great pleasure of interviewing, co-authors, Andrea Meyer and Kit Seeborg on their new book, Present Yourself, How to Use SlideShare to Grow Your Business. This book was not written as a social media how-to manual on sharing documents and presentations, but rather as a meaningful business book focused on visual thinking, innovation, and collaboration. Right out of the gate, the authors speak to the visionary work of Alexander Osterwalder’s Business Model Canvas and the importance of images to succinctly convey information to sharing how innovation teams or startup companies can leverage SlideShare.

This May, SlideShare celebrated a milestone of over 10 million presentation uploads.  Now, with a massive community of over 50 million unique users each month, Seeborg shared that from the beginning, SlideShare had a strong vision of their core business model and implemented an aggressive growth strategy. The early users of SlideShare were from the interactive design and user experience community. Seeborg advises others needing to grow a customer base to, “go with who you know and use your first tier contacts as your beginning base.” She goes on to say that SlideShare had a great idea and the other part of their good fortune was timing.


Meyer agreed by stating that, “it has been a perfect setup for visual communication. The pace of communication has increased, as has the need to communicate quickly and effectively. Those of us in the innovation and creativity space are continually bombarded with the new and fabulous, and visual thinking plays a role in how ideas and concepts are both captured and remembered.” Meyer continued by stating that the two main advantages of imagery are:

  1. The acceleration of productivity: studies show that people are 17% more productive and use 20% fewer resources when using a visual language.
  2. By using visual artifact, it is easier to structure a team’s thinking around the different elements of a project.

Given the explosion of startup-and-comers, (business rumor has it that there is a new startup every 48 hours), and larger companies with startup mentalities, the importance of visual communication has never been more important. One of the top reasons for a failed startup is wasting funds on an advertising budget. Present Yourself provides concrete examples of how startups can optimize SlideShare tailored for investors, target market engagement, and content marketing. For example, Dave McClure, founder of 500 Startups, has more than 200 presentations archived from his startup community that serve, not only, as inspiration but as a way to gain understanding of customer needs. Seeborg states that, “the style of delivering presentations has evolved. It’s more interactive and integrative; you can now upload a slide deck with the big guys and look bigger than you actually are.” Meyer laughed and agreed that, “the Google juice is just huge for getting found, broader tribe connectivity, and sharing your ideas with customers.”

It was George Bernard Shaw who said that the single biggest problem with communication is the illusion that it has taken place. SlideShare was designed to enhance communication based on understanding that visualizations amplify our cognitive ability – people think more about images. Think about it.


About the authors of Present Yourself:

As the community manager and editor for SlideShare from 2010 to 2013, Kit Seeborg curated and featured presentations on the SlideShare home page, wrote and edited its blog and newsletters, and represented SlideShare on its social platforms. Kit’s extensive work in digital communications for Fortune 100 companies includes live streaming media, content strategy, and public speaking. She is also the founder of the digital music licensing company, BumperTunes. Kit received serious kudos from SlideShare CEO Rashmi Sinhain in the book’s foreword, being referred to as the ‘voice of SlideShare.’ While Seeborg stated that writing this book was like laying an egg and is still amazed over the mental work involved, Drew and I are fairly confident that there is more to come from Kit!

Those of us from the innovation community have engaged with the highly respected and award winning author Andrea Meyer online, or read one of her 35 books, or have had the privilege of hearing her speak about innovation, business, and psychology. Andrea founded in 1988 and works with CEOs, professors, and consultants to write their books, blogs, white papers, and online learning content. Her clients include IBM, Cisco, MIT and Harvard Business School. We know that Andrea has already picked up her pen – yes, there will be more.


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