We live in a ‘presentation culture’ where if you can’t fit something on a screen in three bullet points and a piece of clip art, it’s hardly worth saying. As a result large slices of our working lives are spent in darkened rooms being subjected to near-death-by-powerpoint experiences by people telling us what they are going to tell us, telling us, then telling us what they have just told us, whether or not they had anything to say in the first place.

Image of hands on a laptop with people and a PowerPoint screen on the wall behindNow, where was I?

Arch-exponents of the visual aid congregate on the web at SlideShare, an invaluable site where you can upload and share your latest ‘deck’ (of slides) with your peers. It’s a handy stop for anyone keen to get a quick briefing on the ubertrendy in marketing and technology, and you can learn a lot from seeing how other people prepare their slides (both good and bad!).

SlideShare has just issued its ‘Zeitgeist’ summary for 2011, picking out key developments in presentation culture across the globe. The first thing to note is that, with 80% of all material uploaded from USA and Europe, planet SlideShare is heavily Western. Asia is bubbling under at 19%, but Africa still only accounts for 1% of content.

Asia leads the world in presentation length, however, with an average of 29 slides from Japanese contributors, followed closely by China with 27. The good news for fidgety exporters is that Japanese presentations are shrinking — down from a yawntastic average 42 slides in 2010. Spain appears to be the tersest nation — with an average of 20 slides per deck.

Bells and whistles are on the increase everywhere if file size is anything to go by. The most popular presentations (those rated highest by peers) weigh in at a mailbox-busting 9.2mb average (from 7.9mb in 2010). As you might expect from a previous post on Marketing Talk, men use more slides than women — 26 vs 22 as a rule.

So, what are all these presentations actually about? To help you find what you are looking for, their creators use tags — labels which identify content. The most popular this year, as last, is ‘business’, with ‘marketing’ and ‘design’ occupying second and third slots. Last year it was ‘markets’ and ‘research’. Perhaps unsurprisingly given the fact that SlideShare is all about sharing stuff on the web, the most frequently-named companies are Twitter and Facebook (between them counting for about 70% of all references to business) with Google in third place at 20%. Apple only manages about 4% — a worrying trend perhaps?

To conclude, if you want to be a power in the land of powerpoint you might want to take note of the following:

  • Numbers: the most ‘favorited’ presentations had titles like ’10 Business Models that are shaking the world’ or ’101 great marketing quotes’
  • Fashion: ‘social media’ seems to be a very popular subject with everyone — and if you can stick a buzz word like ‘agile’ in the title it helps
  • Economy: the most popular presentations combine lots of slides (average 65 for the top ones) with relatively few words on each (32 or less)
  • Visualisation: pictures are a good idea — overall presentations on SlideShare in 2011 had 21 images per deck, but the most popular ones averaged 37.

Reproduced from: Marketing Talk with Terry Terry O’Sullivan

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