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What You Can Learn From the 10 Best SlideShares of 2014

Ranked as the 151st most popular website in the world, SlideShare pulls in over 58 million unique visitors a month. Acquired by LinkedIn about 2 ½ years ago, this PowerPoint-style presentation platform has become a professional environment for educating, learning, raising awareness, and entertaining. It’s also become an exceptional tool for content marketing, where brands and thought leaders create engaging presentations and share/embed them throughout the digital world.

Launched in 2006, SlideShare continues to build up interest: google trends slideshare We wanted to investigate what type of content performs well on SlideShare, so we took a look at the 10 most-viewed SlideShares for the year of 2014. Here’s what you can take away from their successes if you plan to start using this marketing platform moving forward.

Data for the 10 most viewed SlideShares of 2014

1. How to See the Light in Others

  • Views: 2.8 million
  • Shares: 3,086
  • Number of slides: 21
  • Average number of words per slide: 5

Created by speaker and ghostwriter Bruce Kasanoff, this uplifting and inspirational presentation uses engaging images with simple quotes – five words on average – to appeal to viewers. The main theme of this piece is motivating viewers to see positive traits in others and try our best to bring them out. As a good-hearted theme we can safely guess this will appeal to the general public.

2. Congratulations Graduate! Eleven Reasons Why I Will never Hire You

  • Views: 1.8 million
  • Shares: 110,000+
  • Number of slides: 84
  • Average number of words per slide: 10

We believe this presentation went viral for a few reasons. Created by Mark O’Toole, managing director at HB Agency, this presentation compiled insights from Mark’s 20 years in hiring roles. Aimed at the large market and ever-hot topic of recent grads looking for jobs, 11 situations are described in detail as to why a recent grad will fail in their job search.

The topic itself is controversial. It pits hiring managers against young job seekers and as you might notice in the comment sections where it was shared, this created a battlefield of half-truths, resentment, or praise – majorly just emotional responses. And this is primarily the reason it was so successful – it got people talking immediately.

With 84 slides and an average of 10 words per slide, the presentation utilized an eye-grabbing visual design, controversial humor, and had the key points bolded or otherwise heavily stressed.

3. Most Memorable LinkedIn Posts of 2014

  • Views: 1.6 million
  • Shares: 2,000+
  • Number of slides: 40
  • Average number of words per slide: 27

Created by the official LinkedIn network, this presentation naturally features some of the most memorable LinkedIn posts from 2014. This was primarily a way to bring more attention the publishing feature, which had just launched in February. By utilizing their already large network of followers as well as the writers who are featured, this post was naturally set up for success. Each feature slide has a direct link to the post being featured, making it a quick gateway to each article.

4. 26 Time Management Hacks I wish I’d Known at 20

  • Views: 1.6 million
  • Shares: 52,000+
  • Number of slides: 30
  • Average number of words per slide: 17

Created by Etienne Garbugli, a senior UX researcher, this presentation targets a specific demographic – 20 year olds – but remains applicable to all age groups. Time management is a popular theme; we all want more of it. Even though the internet is full of time management tips, Etienne provides practical, wellthought out ones, which appeal to readers who have most likely seen the same tips repeated over and over.

As a practical self-improvement presentation, it lends itself to being embedded on other websites, currently clocking in at more than 900 embeds. Etienne also used the presentation to raise awareness for his own KickStarter project, a book about hacking time.

5. What Would Steve Do? 10 Lessons from the World’s Most Captivating Presenters

  • Views: 1.4 million
  • Shares: 17,000+
  • Number of slides: 60
  • Average number of words per slide: 15

This SlideShare was published by the HubSpot team, who have created over 700 SlideShares to date. The topic is learning how to be become a better presenter with notable tips that translate over to SlideShares. Benchmarking advice from Steve Jobs and other notable speakers, this presentation became a utility and worthy reference, much like Etienne’s time hacking piece, clocking in over 700 embeds as of this writing.

6. How Google Works

  • Views: 1.15 million
  • Shares: 33,000+
  • Number of slides: 54
  • Average number of words per slide: 15

Similar to how LinkedIn tapped into their already large following, Google Executive Chairman and ex-CEO Eric Schmidt put together a SlideShare that acts as a visual preview to the book How Google Works. As a celebrity, Eric was already set up to reach a vast audience and, in conjunction with the former SVP of Products Jonathan Rosenberg, this presentation beautifully educated viewers on the ingredients of innovation, high-level decision making, attracting and nurturing talent, and dealing with disruption.

7. Social, Digital, and Mobile Around the World

  • Views: 1 million
  • Shares: 10,000+
  • Number of slides: 183
  • Average number of words per slide: 15

To kick off 2014, We Are Social Singapore published this mammoth of a presentation, visualizing key statistics, data, and behavioral indicators for social, digital and mobile channels around the world. Packed with 183 slides and mounds of attractive and interesting data, this presentation has resulted in over 1,100 embeds to date. Due to the sheer range of application for the data being presented, it was designed to be intriguing and useful for not just marketers, but the general public as well.

8. Dear NSA, let me take care of your slides

  • Views: 1 million
  • Shares: 39,000+
  • Number of slides: 26
  • Average number of words per slide: 5

Urged to action by the NSA’s incredibly poor PowerPoint presentation for PRISM, Emiland, a presentation designer based in Paris, took it upon himself to redesign the NSA slides in a sleek, clean, and modern fashion. This tactic is known as news-jacking, and Emiland cleverly involved humorous elements with his fantastic design skills to both educate and entertain viewers.

9. 25 Disruptive Technology Trends 2015-2016

  • Views: 890,000+
  • Shares: 3,200+
  • Number of slides: 37
  • Average number of words per slide: 15

Coming from another creator with a pre-built following, author Brian Solis put together a presentation exploring some of the biggest technology trends and possible tangents going into 2015 and 2016. The topic appeals to the general public, utilizing the appeal of predictions/future considerations, as well as featuring recent breakthroughs in the industry.

10. Pixar’s 22 Rules to Phenomenal Storytelling

  • Views: 770,000+
  • Shares: 16,000+
  • Number of slides: 24
  • Average number of words per slide: 10

Similar to HubSpot’s guide to better presenting, Gavin McMahon of FassForward uses Pixar as a benchmark for storytelling. The rules were originally collected and tweeted by Emma Coats, a former Pixar employee, and Gavin saw an opportunity to compile them into an engaging SlideShare.

What can you learn from these presentations?

As we compiled this list of the top 10 SlideShares, we noticed a few patterns:

Pre-Built Followings

In many cases, the presentation creators already had large followings, giving them an edge with initial amplification. This might mean that you’ll have better luck with SlideShare if you’ve already built a reasonably sized following.

Topic Styles

We noticed two types of topics in these presentations.

One type is a topic that is general enough to be intriguing to the public, leading to share-worthy pieces of content. The other type is selecting a topic that has a form of utility, such as time hacks or storytelling tips, which leads to embed-worthy pieces of content.

Relevance and Creativity

Emiland’s NSA re-design was easily the most creative we saw, utilizing news-jacking to publish a timely, relevant, and humorous piece. Brian Solis focused on the future and LinkedIn gave us a recap.

The rest chose topics that are applicable to the widest possible audience, either being relevant at a certain period in someones life, or for adding fuel to a never ending hot topic/debate.


All of the presentations had their own unique design, but all had some form of visual appeal, whether it was with minimalism or with lots of color. So if you’re planning to create your own successful SlideShare, utilize a graphic designer to make your data or statements as attractive as possible. Now that you’ve learned from this list of last year’s best SlideShares, we want to hear from you.

Which qualities stood out to you in these presentations? Did you notice any other patterns? Are you already using this platform as part of your marketing, or are you planning to try it?

Let us know what you think in the comments!

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