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little-boy-painting-on-easelSome of us have the presentation design sense of a turnip. (Raised hand here.)

Which is why I was ecstatic when I decided to explore SlideShare after it had officially become another LinkedIn property, and found that it offered a decent collection of tips, tricks, and tools.

True, Amazon shows an impressive 239 title results when searched for “SlideShare for Dummies,” but none of those are actually a book called Slideshare for Dummies (always my starting point….). So as an alternative, I’ve worked my way through SlideShare’s “Get Started” coaching materials and found them to actually be pretty helpful for those of us in the design-challenged category. It’s really, really basic information, but a starting point.

What’s Worth Checking Out

Get Started. If you’re trying to build visibility for a small business, freelance, or independent information pro practice, it’s useful to take a look at the initial “Get Started” chapters (think paragraphs) for What is SlideShare, What to Upload, Who Uses SlideShare, and Customer Stories. These are basically sales pitches that make the case for how businesses can make money via SlideShare posts.

However, it’s not a bad idea to also consider the information in this section from the perspective of career expertise visibility. I’m a firm believer in the career mantra that “we are all self-employed,” so any tool that can help expand your LIS career opportunities is something to explore if you’re taking charge of your career future.

Tips & Tricks. The “chapters” in this section cover the basics (yep, just the basics) of design principles, tools and resources (very helpful list with descriptions, although I’m assuming that LinkedIn may have financial arrangements with the products recommended, and thus a bit of a bias), promotion tips (good information, but also of course good for driving traffic to LinkedIn), and Tips from Experts (very helpful, and from recognized content-marketing industry leaders).

Creator Tools. This group of chapters – Overview, SlideShare Analytics, Embed a YouTube Video – will be useful for you if you’re using SlideShare for serious promotion and want to monitor your results or you want to add a YouTube video to your slide deck (good news: this looks like a very simple step).

Upping Your Game

For those who’ve moved beyond LinkedIn/Slideshare’s minimalist coaching, there are a number of excellent books that will help you take a deeper dive for truly impactful presentations. Among the best:

Slide:ology: The Art and Science of Creating Great Presentation / Nancy Duarte. O’Reilly, 2008. 274p. ISBN 978-0596522346.
Duarte is widely recognized for her presentation design work, and this was the book that launched her visibility for the rest of us. A terrific, practical, detailed, and thorough overview of how to think about presentation design, from color to layout to typefonts, and more. One of the best aspects of Slide:ology is that Duarte both establishes the visual rules and then show how and when to use them or go beyond them.

Resonate: Present Visual Stories That Transform Audiences / Nancy Duarte. Wiley and Sons, 2010. 272p. ISBN 978-0470632017.
Whereas her previous book explored the visual and aesthetic conceptualization of presentation slides in general, Resonate focuses on the story those slides tell, and how they can most effectively tell it through those slides, their presentation, and your engagement of the audience in your story. A powerful and motivating companion to Slide:ology. (And for those who ended up as part of the Duarte fan club, you may also want to check out her more recent, equally inspiring book, Illuminate: Ignite Change with Speeches, Stories, Ceremonies, and Symbols – Portfolio Penguin, 2016.)

Presentation Zen Design: Simple Design Principles and Techniques to Enhance Your Presentations, 2nd ed. / Garr Reynolds. New Riders, 2013. 288p. ISBN 978-0321934154.
Reynolds is an internationally respected designer, and his Presentation Zen was one of the first books to successfully argue for a more enlightened approach to presentation design than simply creating slide decks crammed with text or bullet points. Presentation Zen is more creative and conceptual than, say, Slide:ology, but the two complement each other well.