Cast away: Incorporating slidecasts into your online presence can distinguish your business from competitors

Elena Petricone

Typically consisting of a PowerPoint presentation with synchronized audio, slidecasts don’t consume much time or energy, yet can be an appealing alternative if you’re intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect of creating a video or other daunting technological creation.

A slidecast, to use the wiki definition, is an “audio podcast combined with a slideshow or diorama presentation.” Typically consisting of a PowerPoint presentation with synchronized audio, slidecasts don’t consume much time or energy, yet can be an appealing alternative if you’re intimidated or overwhelmed by the prospect of creating a video or other daunting technological creation. Though a slidecast on your website probably won’t attract huge numbers of new clients, adding one that’s informative and illustrative of your expertise can be an effective boost to your already existing or developing Internet presence, offering you an edge over your competition.

Sifting through Internet jargon of course can leave you feeling muddled. Podcasting, vcasting, webcasting and slidecasting for example, all have some conceptual overlap. But slidecasting simply means, as the term suggests, a presentation that incorporates a slideshow. This makes slidecasts well-suited for instruction. A slidecast might be a prerecorded webinar, a conversation, a how-to guide and anything in between. Consequently, decisions about the length, tone and content of your slidecast are entirely up to you. Though video can be integrated into the presentation, a slidecast is usually composed of synchronized audio and still slides.

Why Slidecast?

As mentioned above, creating slidecasts will not make or break your business yet they can represent excellent tools for maintaining good client relations. By openly sharing your knowledge, you’ll establish yourself as an expert of experts with advice to spare. Slidecasts assure clients, prospects and interested viewers alike that your dedication to educating others is central to your business value.

Providing free insight into your field may seem counterintuitive, but don’t fear copycats or those who might “steal” all your great ideas. As Ken Lizotte, author of The Expert’s Edge: Become the Go-To Authority People Turn to Every Time (McGraw-Hill) points out: “There will always be people who will never be your customer and who will be content to take your information and walk away. But there will always be readers and listeners too who don’t want to do it for themselves, and they will be eager to become your clients.” Slidecasts are a resource then to which your clients and prospects have 24/7 access. Yet even sustainable, easily obtained advice does not necessarily mean that everyone will have the motivation or desire to proceed without you.

Slidecast Content

Before dashing off to create a brand-new slidecast, consider work you’ve already done. Have you previously made a PowerPoint presentation in preparation for a speaking engagement, fundraising pitch, or webinar? Do you happen to have any audio recordings of yourself sitting around? Have you created a PowerPoint for use at sales calls? Recycling and incorporating past efforts is a smart way to save time. But don’t worry too if you’re starting totally fresh: assembling a new slidecast is still within your reach.

While composing and structuring your slidecast, you may want to ask yourself some questions to inspire topics or delve deeper within them. Determine your value propositions by answering the following:

How do you currently improve your clients’ situations?
What do you do very, very well?
What do you do better than any of your competitors?
Is there something that makes your business unique compared to others in your field?
Why are your clients more than happy to pay you?
What problems do you solve?
What problems do you see coming?

Remember that a slidecast is a terrific opportunity to take precise, bullet-point information and accompany it with your voice. This is not to say that you drop every formality once you begin audio recording but do consider the slidecast an opportunity to go beyond the text on your website. You may feel as though everyone knows how your industry operates simply because you function in it every day but clients and other slidecast viewers will typically not be so well-informed about you and therefore appreciate the extra time you take sharing your expertise with them.

Whether you are new to slidecasting or you are coming to slidecasting fully prepared and experienced with a PowerPoint and audio, I strongly encourage taking a look at other slidecasts before creating your own. SlideShare.net, a free sharing site that does not require any downloading, hosts a plethora of slidecasts in a variety of topics for you to sample. Take some time to explore this site and learn what makes an excellent slidecast and what makes a dud. Being able to articulate why a slidecast is engaging or boring can be enormously useful. Actively watching and listening will enable you to apply effective techniques to your own slidecasts and thus prevent disastrous mistakes. Though slidecasting is not a terribly difficult form of social media to master, you should nonetheless prepare yourself fully so as to maximize your slidecasting potential.

How should you actually make your recording? You may want to write a script to follow that accompanies your PowerPoint presentation. Or you may prefer to record “off the cuff.” Use your best judgment and determine what method will bring out your best effort and your most effective performance. This component of slidecasting should be done in whatever way feels most comfortable to you. And tempting though it might be, don’t self-plug to exhaustion! No one enjoys a dioramic advertisement. The issue is expert content pure and simple, designed to enhance your value to your target market. Keep shameless promotion “bombs” out of the picture.

Would you like more technical help with setting up your first slidecast? There are many websites out there eager to accept your money in exchange for tools to improve your slidecast. You could take advantage of these. Yet if you are a slidecasting novice, or unsure whether or not slidecasting is a good fit for your business, you probably don’t want endure any major costs just yet. Fortunately you don’t have to. Many free, high-quality programs exist to help with every aspect of slidecast construction. Most can be found with a quick search engine investigation. For the actual assembly and synchronization of the slidecast, for example, SlideShare is very easy to use, offering tools to bridge your slidecasts to Facebook, LinkedIn, Wordpress, YouTube, and more. Plus, the White House uses it!

Post-Slidecast Creation Actions

Once you’ve created your slidecast, use it strategically. Above all, make sure your masterpiece doesn’t just sit on your user profile or lay hidden away on your website. Ken Lizotte reminds us in his book that many professionals who produce or achieve something positive often next forget to let even the people who are the most invested in them know about it! Utilize your email list and announce to your clients and business contacts that you are using this new tool. Give them a link so they can view and experience your new slidecast. You may find that some of your contacts are using slidecasts as well and so will be especially interested in viewing yours as well as possibly cross posting presentations on their own blogs or websites.

Creating your first slidecast of course will probably be the most difficult. The obstacles you encounter on your first try may determine how adventurous you are next time around. Don’t be afraid to experiment with length or video segments or other aspects. And though all forms of social media are manageable, slidecasting can be a great “gateway medium” for teaching you how to meet ad master other technological challenges.

One last point: slidecasts will probably not win you fame and fortune. The substance of your business will always outrank the latest social medium. But slidecasts do offer you the opportunity to connect with new clients, old clients, prospects, new and old colleagues and curious viewers alike. By providing such inventive free resources, you’ll gain higher credibility and recognition as the go-to expert in your industry and field.



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Elena Petricone works as a freelance publishing assistant at emerson consulting group, inc., in Concord, MA.