Meet Henry (and Charlie, and Josh and…)

A few weeks ago, a really cool presentation (“Meet Henry“) was uploaded to slideshare. It was a pitch for Ethos3 Communications, told through the introduction of two characters (Henry and Erica). Henry is the stereotyped MBA: Erica (the protagonist) kicks his ass because she uses Ethos Communication.
I don’t even know what Ethos3 is, but the slides were really cool. They stood by themselves: they don’t need a presenter to be effective. The presentation was so effective that Guy Kawasaki and the other celebrity judges on the “Worlds Best Presentation Contest” gave it 2nd prize.

The interesting thing is that the presentation seems to have spawned it’s own genre. Soon after that presentation was uploaded to slideshare, Scott Gavin uploaded “Meet Charlie“. Meet Charlie is a nice introduction to Enterprise Web 2.0, told in the same style as Meet Henry. In fact, Scott credited “Meet Henry” in the description.

Now there’s a french translation of meet charlie, and meet josh, a pitch for Union College. These presentations are built for the web, not for live talks. They tell a story using simple graphics and words, and they’re pretty effective. Neat!

WordPress.com now supports slideshare!

We’re super-happy to announce that WordPress.com now supports slideshare embeds. This has been a feature that our uses have been requesting since we launched.
Since wordpress.com strips out embedded code by default, the way is works is you grab a special “wordpress short code” from slideshare. You paste that into your blog article, and the slideshow will appear.
They also added us to their “slideshows” link (which also has short codes for slide.com, rockyou, and splashcast).
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Thanks wordpress.com!

SlideShare “World’s Best Presentation” contest!

Today we launched our first contest on SlideShare. Contests are the new hotness on the web nowadays … if bix is the American Idol of the web, you can think of this as being the American Idol of PowerPoint (yes, that is a weird idea!). Today youtube also launched a huge contest of their own, so it seems like the time is right for contests on the web.

The idea of an American Idol of PowerPoint may be funky, but the contest is serious. Every judge is a renowned presentation expert. Guy Kawasaki, for example, has serious rules about how long your powerpoint can be, and what should be on each slide of a pitch to potential investors. Garr Reynolds is the author of the amazing Presentation Zen blog, which was one of the first blogs I started reading about presentation design. Bert Decker is a top presentation coach who you’ve probably seen on TV (especially in election season, when he comments on the presidential debates for NBC’s Today Show). And Jerry Weisman is silicon valley’s go-to guy for executives gearing up for the grueling presentation hell that is the pre-IPO “road-show”. Presentation rock stars, all of these guys.
The prizes are pretty rad too. An alienware Area 51 laptop (w/Vista), plus two Xbox 360s and a ton of games, were generously donated by Microsoft. Thanks Seattle people! And Garage Technology Ventures sponsored the contest, which was really cool of them.
Judges will determine the final winners, but there’s also a prize for the “people’s choice”. Anyone can vote for the winner of the people’s choice, and there are ipods for the top three winners in that category.
The contest design was a lot of fun. We tried to make the contest really social, so you can always see the avatars of “recent positive voters” next to a slideshow that is in a contest. Warning, this is addictive!
Anyway, go on and upload your presentations to slideshare if you want a bad-ass new AlienWare laptop. What are you waiting for?

SlideShare: an evolving social system

We’ve been slowly adding more and more social features to slideshare over the last few months. You can now add slideshare members as friends, leave comments on their profile (we call that a “Ping”), or send private messages.
It’s been cool to see how all of this plays out. Here’s a nice article describing how Brian Kelly has been using slideshare to find like-minded slideshare members in his field. Excerpt below!
A few days ago I received an email alert which informed me that a number of the presentations had been added as a Favourite by a Slideshare user.
From his profile I discover that srains has a blog, Rolling Rains, which explores ‘the adoption of Universal Design (Design-for-All; Human-Centered Design) by the tourism industry’.
From the other slide show he has added to his list of favourites, I have found presentations which are of interest to me (including one on Two Trainers Trade Twenty Technology Training Tips and one on standards used on Oxfam Australia’s Web site).
Revisiting my uploaded slides I discover that the most popular of my presentations is Web 2.0: What Is It, How Can I Use It, How Can I Deploy It? with 666 views in two months, with 6 users including it in their list of favourite slideshows (jensjeppe, cezinha.com, noticiasmias2002, gerarddummer, erywin and MCL).
I can then follow their list of other favourites and the slides which they may have uploaded. And guess what: people who are interested in my slides on Web 2.0 are also interested in other slides on the same subject. So this ‘social network’ provides a form of resource discovery for me

Google, yahoo, and hotmail spam filters compared

When a user signs up for slideshare, they receive an confirmation email that they need to respond to in order to activate their account. Frankly, the confirmation rate isn’t as high as we’d like (it’s about 87% since the site launched).
Most of this is due to spam filtering or blocking by the various email providers. For example, my own email provider temporarily rejects emails, causing a 5-10 minute delay in the arrival of the email!
I did some analysis of the conversion rates of users with different kinds of email addresses, and came to some surprising conclusions. This chart sums it all up:
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