For many people, PowerPoint (or Keynote) presentations are like root canals — you know they’re necessary, but they’re painful and they make you uncomfortable. And they’re a little like dental surgery in another way as well: they put a lot of people to sleep. That said, however, they are a fact of life, and SlideShare, which just got $3-million in funding, is one of the companies that has been doing its best to try and make them more interesting by letting people share them (it’s not aimed at helping you *create* them — that’s what companies like Zoho.com, SlideRocket.com and Empressr.com are trying to do). But can you really develop a community around something like that?
I think the answer could be yes. From my own point of view, I’ve put together a few PowerPoints for presentations to companies about social media and blogs and so on, and in doing so I spent a bunch of time looking around for examples. And I came across some good ones — like Dick Hardt’s presentation about Identity 2.0, which I highly recommend as an example of how to do it right, and which has become almost legendary in some circles. After all, giving a presentation is a kind of performance, and there are those who do it well. Some PowerPoint shorthand has even emerged, like the “Meet Henry.”
I’ve shared my “decks” or slides with others to get their feedback, and they’ve shared theirs with me. In some cases we’ve traded some really good slides if we’re giving similar presentations. And I’ve browsed through the “most popular” at SlideShare more than once, or the related items after searching for a term, and found some pretty good ones. You could argue that having something like SlideShare helps to improve the average calibre of PowerPoints — and that has to be a good thing, especially if you have to sit through them regularly :-)