There are infinite reasons why you may not be able to give a presentation in person, many of which I covered in my article on adding Text-To-Speech to PowerPoint presentations. When you can't be there in person, but you want to send along a PowerPoint deck in your place, there are a few reasons why you might want to use a slide-sharing site. Maybe your recipient is using an old clunker of a computer that would have compatibility issues with whatever you're sending, maybe they're concerned about viruses, maybe your recipient will be viewing your presentation from a mobile device or a different operating system than you're using, or maybe you have no intended recipient but want to post your presentation somewhere where it can garner eyeballs on its own, like YouTube, but for slides.
Whatever the case, a slide-sharing site can give you the peace of mind of not having to worry about technical snafus while giving you a platform to attract potential viewers. Today I'm going to explore five slide-sharing site options.
SlideShare was my least favorite of the bunch. My first issue came when I uploaded a test presentation and subsequently tried to delete it. I clicked to delete but nothing seemed to happen. I refreshed the window and the presentation was still there. I repeated this several times and my presentation did not delete. The next day when I logged in to my SlideShare account the presentation was gone, but I have no idea how long it took to actually delete. I thought it was perhaps a once off occurrence, but the same thing happened that day when I tried the process again. This made me really uncomfortable. What if I'd uploaded a presentation that could be damaging to my reputation or my company? Hopefully I wouldn't be in that position, but mistakes happen and I don't like knowing that there isn't a quick "undo."
SlideShare does not support animation and gives you the typical sharing options of Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus, among a few others. To use any sort of advanced functionality (like analytics, capturing leads, or adjusting privacy), you'll need to pay for it. I don't necessarily have a problem paying for this, particularly if I'd be using the site for business needs-but I can get this same functionality for free from other sites, so I don't see much logic in paying for it on a site I'm not otherwise in love with. The good news is that SlideShare is quite well known, and although I didn't do the research, has possibly the largest audience. If you're aiming for visibility this isn't a bad idea.
Bottom line: High visibility, subpar interface, low on features.
authorSTREAM is a pretty standard choice among slide-sharing sites. After uploading your presentation, you can edit settings, share on Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn, download as either a Flash or a PPT file, or convert to a video. Animations worked--but not all the time and sometimes grouped objects came in mangled or missing elements. Animations did not come in automatically, which makes for an awkward viewing experience because your viewer probably does not know when to stop clicking to finish the build on that slide. Given the inconsistency/awkwardness associated with animations, you'd probably be better off just not using them. authorSTREAM does have basic analytic tools to track views, as well as an available presentation transcript.
Bottom line: The "kind of" working animations will have many users pulling their hair out, but if you don't have animations or grouped elements on your slides, this is not a horrible option for getting your presentation in front of eyeballs.
Speaker Deck has a relatively streamlined interface, which was nice. Files must be uploaded in PDF format and cannot exceed 50 MB. PowerPoint will save presentations as PDF files, so this isn't necessarily a problem, but may mean extra work for some users. Since decks are uploaded in PDF form, animations do not convey. If your presentation relies upon animations, this may be a deal breaker for you. But if not, I think it's actually kind of nice not having to wonder if they'll work or not by eliminating the possibility altogether. The addition of a YouTube-like "like" system gives Speaker Deck a bit of a social side. Analytic reporting is minimal, but will tell you how many views you've garnered. Sharing options include Twitter, Facebook, embedding, downloading a PDF version, and direct linking. You can include a description and a speaker bio, and give the presentation a category (to make stumbling upon it by others easier).
Bottom line: Having to have the presentation in PDF format may annoy some users. Knowing off the bat that animations aren't going to work at all could either be helpful or a hindrance to you, depending upon how you look at it. Not the best choice out there, but no glaring flaws.
SlideBoom is by the same people who make iSpring converter, which I have previously written about (and liked). Just as with authorSTREAM, animations came in, but required a click of the next button to start. As I mentioned before, I think this could be confusing to a viewer who doesn't know how many clicks of the next button each slide takes to finish the build. That being said, SlideBoom worked much better (animation-wise) than authorSTREAM, or any of the other options, and every animation I tried worked. Grouped elements did not come in mangled or missing. The free version will let you upload 100 presentations and does not provide detailed analytics, but does show the number of views and has a thumbs up/thumbs down system similar to YouTube. Upon presentation upload, you can elect whether or not you want your presentation to be available to everyone online and whether or not to allow people to download your presentation.
Bottom line: I had the most success with animations here. The interface was slick and easy, but there's not a whole lot of "extra." If you don't need the extra, then this would be my pick.
When it comes to "extra," myBrainshark is the most feature-rich of the bunch. Once your presentation is uploaded, you can edit it by recording audio or adding in background audio. Some animations worked, which is an improvement over some slide-sharing sites, but even so, some did not, so I would still recommend canning any animations to be safe. Attachments can be added in the form of a file or web URL. You can also add a poll or survey question slide as well as individual video, URL, document, PPT, and photo slides. Your deck can't be seen until it is made active, so you can edit until it's perfect and then set it to active so it can be seen. When you're finished making on-site edits, you can either print the presentation or share it via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, email, YouTube, and hordes of lesser known social networks.
myBrainshark's analytics reporting is the most fleshed out of the free versions, providing information on a number of views, what percentage of the deck was viewed, and a map showing where in the world your viewers are viewing from. Your content is also broken down into a table of contents--pulled from the title of each slide.
For even more features, you can pay for the Pro version to allow for embedding, password security, and the option to make the presentation private. A ProTrainer account will allow you to merge content, provide testing and scoring, and integrate with an LMS via SCORM, which could be of particular interest to those of us in the eLearning field.
Bottom line: If you are just trying to share your finished slide deck, this may be more over the top than you need. If, however, you need the extra features, I would highly recommend this option.***
AJ teaches a live, 3-hour class that offers tips/tricks for improving the look and feel of your PowerPoint presentations: Slide Sprucing: Remodeling Lackluster PowerPoint Slides for eLearning and Presentations.