GE 149: How High Spark Co-founder Eugene Cheng Got 1M Views On Just One SlideShare Presentation (podcast) With Eugene Cheng

Eugene Cheng_High Spark

Hi everyone! Today we have Eugene Cheng, co-founder and creative lead of HighSpark which used to be SlideComet, a strategic presentation consultancy serving Fortune 500 companies like Panasonic, Dentsu and Nike. Eugene relishes in building compelling visual content for his agencies and channels, and he is a self confessed presentation obsessive. He is also a keynote author in the top 1% on SlideShare.

Today we’ll be talking about how Eugene wound up getting over 100,000 views and 20 leads on his first SlideShare presentation and turned that into the company that he runs today, the reason he’s got 3 million total views on his SlideShare channels (and 3 reasons why everyone’s not this successful), and how to create a great presentation without being a design expert.

Download podcast transcript [PDF] here: How High Spark Co-founder Eugene Cheng Got 1M Views On Just One SlideShare Presentation TRANSCRIPT

Episode highlights:

  • [3:48] – How the ROI on a SlideShare done right is huge
  • [4:55] – How updating on SlideShare will dynamically update all of the platforms that the slide show is on
  • [7:36] – Using PowerPoint to start creating a SlideShare. First, start with a story or repurpose existing content. It has to be visual and brief. Keep one message per slide. Find a visual. Then focus on color or layout.
  • [9:18] – Icons are a great way to create visuals
  • [9:46] – Eugene has about 2 million plus views on his collective business and personal channels
  • [10:35] – Relevant content that plays to the taste of the audience and the taste of the SlideShare team will help with promotion
  • [12:33] – The reason more people aren’t doing SlideShare well is that they lack design expertise and they feel they don’t have time and the platform is not for them
  • [18:08] – You have to give your own take on your slide show, don’t do what everyone else is doing
  • [20:49] – Keep things simple and find the sweet spot of design

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Full Transcript of The Episode

Show transcript
Eugene: You want to get as much traction as possible. First thing of course is to blast to your own specific lists, second thing is to get audiences who are looking at your presentation to share it for you.

Speaker 1: Do you want to impact the world and still turn a profit? Then you're in the right place, welcome to Growth Everywhere, this is the show where you'll find real conversations with real entrepreneurs. They'll share everything from their biggest struggle to the exact strategies they use on a daily basis. If you are ready for a value-packed interview, listen on, here's your host Eric Siu.

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Eric: All right everybody, today we have Eugene Cheng, who's the co-founder and creative lead of HighSpark, formerly Slide Comet, which is a strategic presentation consultancy serving Fortune 500 companies like Panasonic, Dentsu and Nike. He's also a self-confessed presentation obsessive and he relishes in building a compelling visual content for his agency's channel and his personal channel on SlideShare. He's also a keynote author which means he's top 1% of SlideShare. That was a mouthful from me, but Eugene how are you doing today?

Eugene: I'm okay. I'm calling from Singapore, so it's slightly early here just putting an all-nighters. I'm very excited to be speaking to you, Eric.

Eric: Yeah, I'm happy for you to be here, you know we'll wrap it so quickly, so you can get back to your day. Why don't you just tell us your story?

Eugene: I think I really stumbled on the SlideShare, more as a place to kind of showcase my work. I started out when I was in school, I was good in presentations and I was thinking, "How am I going to get in front of an audience to showcase what I can do?" I uploaded something to SlideShare one day and the next day my stuff ended up on the front page. I got more than 100,000 views for one of my SlideShares, the very first one which I'd put up which was called, How To Be A Presentation Jedi.

I started getting emails from all over the world. People trying to get me to do their presentation, and I started getting calls locally and there was this company that called, that was a larger ad agency. They called and I was like, "Hey, who is this?" They said, "Hi, is this Eugene? Can you come in tomorrow?" My reply was, "How did you get my number?" I think SlideShare really helped to get me a lot of visibility more than I even could handle it at the time. It's still a very powerful medium today that many people are not utilizing, which I feel.

Eric: Okay, let's go back to that particular SlideShare presentation. You said you got over a 100, 000 views on it, is that correct?

Eugene: Yes.



Eugene Cheng Page 2 of 10 Eric: Approximately how many leads do you think you got from that?

Eugene: Wow, I have to think back, it's quite a few years back. I'd have to say probably 10 or 20 at a time.

Eric: How long did you spend on doing that deck, do you remember?

Eugene: At very first, it took me a while because I haven't done a SlideShare before. I remember, I think I took over a month to do it, that was kind of my first deck. I recently just put up a deck which I finished in two hours, I recorded the whole process and I was in the front page again. It doesn't really have to take a month for you to prepare, but you need to understand the nuances and how to use it.

Eric: Great, I think that's a good return on investment. The thing is you're able to put in a couple of hours a time and you're able to get 10 or 20 leads. Even if one or two of those leads turn out to be good and they convert, it's well worth your time. Does that sound right?

Eugene: Mm-hmm (affirmative). I think that that SlideShare alone, but we had a SlideShare, I think it was called A Really Bad PowerPoint. It's one that repurposes the content from Seth Godin books. That one got really really famous, I must say. I got featured on SlideShare's blog as one of the best presentations of 2014, and it's gone today I think more than a million views. It also got featured on HighSpark, Ryan Tracy and he is still bringing us I think one in 200 to 300 subscribes a month.

Eric: Wow, okay. How did you go about promoting that piece of content?

Eugene: I think early on, simply because the content was based on Seth Godin book. Obviously we reached out to him straightaway, also he published it. I'm not sure if he shared it but we had to do a lot outreach on our end, behind the scenes. One is, obviously getting people to promote it based on our own current lists. We already have an email list which we blast out the SlideShare to, another thing is to try and get guest posts on blogs where we can embed the presentation. Once we do that, you can always change it whenever you want to because you can re-upload your presentation or SlideShare and it dynamically gets up-dated on every single platform that is already embedded on. I think the first few plus was, one to try to get on the front page, and once we got on the front page, it was really about getting it more traction as we went along, because once your five page feature expires, you won't get as many views.

Eric: 200 to 300 emails from that, and it just a gift that keeps on giving. Let's go into a little more of what you did in terms of promotion. What was your process for it? Let's just start with that.

Eugene: First thing is to think about what you want to happen. I think with every SlideShare that you make, you can leave it a chance. In any case there's always an objective, it's either one, you want to drive more leads. Two, you want to drive them to another page, or



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three, you just want to build your brand, which I think comes part and parcel with whatever you're doing anyway. For example, for the SlideShare, for the Seth Godin one, the real intention was to collect leads. A lot of the counter actions within the day because in SlideShare you can create links, was to collect emails. We created three different resources that we could kind of act as a lead magnet, you trade for that email. We linked these links all over the SlideShare and at the back there was a link to a shared presentation, to download the presentation because a lot of people love holiday look.

With the [inaudible 00:06:06] t button, they could click on it and they could go to this page where they could download the presentation only after they'd shared it. In initial stages of putting your presentation online, you want to get as much traction as possible. First thing of course is to blast to your own specific list, second thing is to get audiences who are looking at your presentation to share it for you, that's where the viral link comes in. You have to incentivize them in a way. In our case we don't want to waste any time building anything else, so we've just converted the deck into a PDF, but it opens a download link and use [inaudible 00:06:38] to drive that kind of traction for our followers, that was the very first step. I think the second step was to reach one or two people who we mentioned in the deck.

Maybe if your deck mentions influencers who have a very wide audience that you can piggyback on. It also more the same like a guest post. If you get mentioned from them, definitely they'll be sending a lot of traffic your way. I did that or you can guest post on different blogs. What I've done is, I've been able to get guests on blogs like Creative Market, Boost Blog Traffic, a few of all these blogs have a really wide audience which I personally don't have, or I didn't have at the time. All I had to do was to embed the blog presentation there, and with their existing traffic, their existing viewership, we can really piggyback on the views and eventually send some of those audiences and those traffic our way. In the end we get views and we get to claim more emails as well.

Eric: Now, how do people go about making a nice SlideShare presentation, or any presentation for them out of view because they don't have the skills that you have, what would you recommend?

Eugene: I think people start off by going to Ballpoint which is really the wrong thing to do. I created an online course just to teach people how to do that. I'm going to just give you an idea of what I was taught in it. The first thing, our courses start with a story, which I think you don't have even to go in Ballpoint to do. Simply because you're wasting much time on it, you want to do it fast and you want to do it quality at the same time which is two very different things. Some people feel like it's mutually exclusive, you start on the SlideShare by writing exactly the stories that you want. For some people, if they don't want to waste time and if you have a blog and all that, you may want to repurpose a blog post that you already have, but you have to make it be able to stand on its own. You have to make it relevant to the platform that you are going on which is SlideShare.

It has to be visual, it has to be brief, it has to be scalable at the same time. Once you do that then you jump into your presentation. What I found to really work is to keep one message per slide, that's I guess something that a lot of people haven't mastered yet



Eugene Cheng Page 4 of 10

because they tend to put a lot of words on it. Keep each of your slide very brief, select an accompanying visual direct, to be an accompaniment to each of the slides. With that, then you work on the color and eventually you work on the layout. It's very difficult for me to explain the layout a bit online here, but I have a lot of relevant articles which I think you can feature in the blog but later on after this call.

Eric: Sure.

Eugene: I just want to summarize, you want to start with the story, second thing is then you focus on maybe the colors and the typography. You pick one color background and you stick with it throughout. You pick visuals for each of the presentation decks and slides. I think selecting icons is a very versatile way to make your slide very visual if you don't want to go finding images and all that because I know they mean a lot of things. Once you do that, and then the last part is really about laying out in a way that is not to complicate it. I'll probably include samplings to show you guys how to do that.

Eric: Yeah, absolutely. We'll drop all these notes and the show notes on Growth Everywhere. You talked about the Seth Godin one that you did, that got you approximately one million views on SlideShare. The overall so far, I think you've gotten, is it close to two million or what's the number?

Eugene: I have one personal channel and one agency channel. Agency channel is about two million views, personal channel is about one million plus. I think collectively there's three million plus whichever works.

Eric: Let's talk about the agency one, is that where the Purple Cow one?

Eugene: Yes.

Eric: My question would be, you got the one million there how did you get the next million, how did that build up?

Eugene: I think the rest was a combined real count of the rest of the presentation. I think we have about 12 other presentations on that platform which we've built over the past couple of years actually. SlideShare is not one hit, one kill kind of thing, you can't get the results just by putting up one or two SlideShares. You have to keep going very consistently putting out great content so that you can build a following, you can build a list. Eventually if you create content as relevant to the time or relevant to the audience, and they find it really good. A distinction here is that you're not only playing to the taste of the audience, you are also playing to the taste of the SlideShare editors because they have the power, one to put you on the front page.

Two, to give you features that can get you plenty of viewership like the ones for the best SlideShares of 2014, the best SlideShares of 2015. We did a SlideShare for a client as well, the client is called Rocketship. The SlideShares that we first put up for them, I think it got about 10,000 views and they were pretty happy with that. Once we reached out at the SlideShare team, a couple of times, we got in their box and eventually we got the



Eugene Cheng Page 5 of 10

best SlideShare of 2015. After they got that, it got about 3,000 views more. It's now I think something around 400,000 views, and they've gotten to so many lists. I didn't ask how many but I just know that it's a pretty substantial amount.

Eric: Do you have a rough range?

Eugene: The number of leads because they are an agency, I think they are going to be, it might not be as simple to get leads but I'm sure it's a list more than 30 or 40 leads.

Eric: More than 30 or 40, okay. How much money was spent on that presentation?

Eugene: They paid us, that was our first commercial SlideShare, I think they paid us around $3,000 each, we apologize for money now but in hindsight we should have.

Eric: Got it. You would charge more money now, what would you charge for that presentation today?

Eugene: Probably upwards of $5,000 to $6,000.

Eric: Let's just break it down this way. At the beginning if you're working with a presentation company, you might pay $75 per lead which might be really good for your company, it might be not. Especially for B2B, $75 is probably pretty good. If we're talking about today, then a company like Eugene's would be charging $150 per lead, which might or might not be good. I'm going to assume that these B2B leads are actually pretty damn good at $150 [inaudible 00:12:22]. It really depends on the business but I think those are good numbers. You've been able to kind of tap into SlideShare, you've been able to get over three million views. Why aren't more people doing it well?

Eugene: I think it's like you said, one is that they don't have design expertise, so they feel like there's a crunch because they can't do presentations that people want to see, even though they have the content. Two, they feel they don't have time, or three, they feel like it's just not for them. They are getting on the platform and they are not getting any results. If they are not B2B, it's going to be slightly difficult, especially if you're selling like Oreos. Let's say you're selling Oreos, you're probably not going to get on the SlideShare unless you have a business angle to it because the audiences are made up of B2B executives, business owners and all that. Which are perfect if you're doing B2B, I think they have to focus on a topic angle that will be able to help them build authority, so that they can write an overall content that's going to show that they understand or the nuances of different businesses and how they can help them with their services.

That's one thing, I think coming out with content is a challenge, number two I think of course the design bit which I think, one, can be learned but it might take a bit of time. I would recommend if you really want to take this seriously, find a designer on Behance or on Dribble, give them the content, get them to design slides for you. I have a friend who is based in the US, his name is Ross Simons. What he did was, he spend $20,000 on creating different SlideShares. The word is that he managed to get all of that back by a few speaking engagements that came from SlideShare and even more right now. The



Eugene Cheng Page 6 of 10

thing is, with that investment alone, he's still continuing to get leads from those assets that he has already put on SlideShare. It's not a one off like, "I'm spending this amount of money, I'm going to get this amount of leads." Because he's going to keep driving traffic, he's going to keep driving leads and he's going to keep driving your brand even after that period, when you first put it up.

Eric: You mentioned leveraging Seth Godin, Purple Cow, his book and his brand, what type of content, you've done a lot of presentations. Is it "How To" content that performs well or is it just somebody re-purposing a talk, what type of content performs the best?

Eugene: It is difficult to say what type of content perform the best because right now we only have an isolated amount of presentations, one, we've done like 12.

Eric: So far of the 12.

Eugene: I'd say the one that repurpose and influences content has done basically the best. I have other friends who are on SlideShare, like in PowerPresentation, we've done 40, 50 presentations. I have [inaudible 00:14:55] Hong Kong, and he's also influenced a content which I think has done pretty well. I can't say which one's going to work well for you, at least for people who are listening right now. I would recommend that if you can, you would repurpose either your content or get maybe a round up interview of a few influences at a time. One, you don't have an audience right now, you want to start building your own audience from scratch. That's going to be very difficult. What you want to do, is you want to find influences maybe look like audiences to yourself, people whom you want to target, collect their responses, put it all together in a SlideShare.

One, it's going to take your time. Two, it's going to help you a lot when you want to do your promotion, which I think a lot of people overlook. They focus and focus at creating the content but nobody is going to see it if you don't promote it. You can create your SlideShare, do a good job about it, reach out again to these influences and try to get them to share your content, or try to get them to embed it on their blog. Instead of you promoting it yourself, you have seven other different people who have audiences promoting it for you. If you really want to start, try to start with content from influences that you put together and that you extract, so they can takeaway from that content.

Eric: I think the reason behind that, if it's actually something that's really good, other people are more than happy to share it. People that are entering that market, or what we call ego bait, if you show them something that you've done for them, and clearly you've invested hours and hours of time, "Hell yeah." At least for me I'm going to share it. I want to give some numbers now to the audience in terms of numbers around SlideShares. Number of users as October 2015, over 70 million users on SlideShare. I think that's a huge amount, especially concerning it's a B2B audience, obviously LinkedIn on SlideShare now. I think it's going to get bigger and bigger. Eugene, what else do you have plan for SlideShare moving forward?

Eugene: The company that I told you about earlier, I think they're going to commission us for a read interview, simply because they feel that SlideShare has helped them a lot. I think as



Eugene Cheng Page 7 of 10

I said, the lead to 40 was when they put it up. They may have gotten more leads now and I think they've seen a dramatic difference in the way people perceive their brands. Simply because of the kind of content they've been putting out on SlideShare. What do I see coming next with SlideShare? I think one, they are obviously moving towards more of an ad female kind of model because they have this thing called Lead Share where you can actually pay to collect leads on your SlideShares. Which used to be a free feature in the past but now I think if you really know how to use the platform, you don't have to pay for it. They're now charging about a minimum $8 per lead when you could have collected it yourself using your own landing pages or using your own mechanisms.

It doesn't make sense there, and you can't get organic traffic if you keep using it right. For us I guess, we're going to keep using the platform but the kind of content that we put up is going to have to change a little bit. Simply because one, we don't have enough time to put up SlideShares all the time. Two, is because there are a lot of look-alike content now online. Another thing for viewers, if you're going to get on SlideShare you have to make sure you are not putting up a lot of 'me-too' kind of content like because SlideShare has so many users, SlideShare has so many uploads. It's very easy to get lost in the sieve. You have to decide on one, what you're going to be good at. Let's say you're going to do digital marketing for example, you don't want to be singing the same song as every other digital marketer that's on SlideShare. You have to give your own pick on it. A very easy way to do it, is to come up with something that's relevant to the news angles that are current right now.

For example like Emiland, he created his presentation about the NSA where he re-designed the very ugly looking deck that NSA put out. That got him 30 million features on places like Mashable, Business Insider, Huffington Post, TechCrunch, and a few others. Stuff like that, to tap on relevant news angles to create content is one that's very important to kind of make your content relevant to people and make it noble at the same time. There are a lot of people who are going to be giving a lot of the same advice, it's up to you to how you can reframe it and reinvent the way that you've showed a content on SlideShare. The medium is very flexible, you can play with feelings, you can play with the visuals that you use, you can also play with the angle of the content. It's very similar to how you write a blog post but then again it's a bit of a different medium on it's own.

Eric: The way I look at it right now, YouTube's creating great videos, you have to have evolved, you have to have great equipment, good lighting and all that to kind of stand out. That's not to say live streaming doesn't work but there's a barrier to entry to having a great video. Just like if there's lower barrier entry to doing a Podcast or doing a blog post. I see SlideShare as a little higher because if you want to stand out, you have to have really good designs and it's hard to put that together. At the same time I don't think it's as hard as doing a really great video. I think it's a happy medium right now and I think it's an opportunity everybody can just look at you Eugene, and drive three million views and you're driving a ton of leads for people, I think that's incredible. I want to switch gears, just one more question for you before we hop off, what's one must read book you'd recommend to everyone?





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Eugene: Wow, one must-read book. I guess if you are on the topic of presentation, Design, or Building A Presentation From Scratch. The very first book that I read when I was in school was a book by Garr Reynolds, who I very deeply admire and respect. It's called Presentation Zen. In it is a lot of tips and instructions on how you can start creating better presentations. When I first looked at the book, I really started creating my presentations definitely. The way that he does it is very artful, the platform of SlideShare. One, because he is very brief, two, because he is of course very visual. He really emphasize a lot of using large visuals to capture the audience's attention, with the text it gives context. When you're on SlideShare, you have to remember that it's not a blog post, it's not any other kind of medium, it's not even a video.

It's somewhere in between and you need to find a sweet spot and the only way to do it is to understand solely the new answers of presentation design. You don't have to be a designer, you just have to learn how to keep things simple, and how to use visuals to your advantage, not just as a decorative kind of medium. That's one, and I think if I could recommend a SlideShare to kind of look at, the very first SlideShare that I saw was this one by Jesse Desjardins. I think he was the first one of legendary guys to get on SlideShare, and I saw his going, I was like, "Wow, I really need to get on the platform." All you have to search is, You Suck at PowerPoint, that's the name of his SlideShare.

Eric: That's funny.

Eugene: This guy got really famous one time. He got fired and then he got re-hired because someone else saw his SlideShare. I think I told you of all different stories of people using SlideShare, it's been getting really weird, and interesting results that are so unexpected but you wouldn't believe it. This guy has been putting up SlideShares and his boss kind of saw it and he's like, "Get out of my company because I don't want you going to this conference. I don't want you to be putting up SlideShares." His boss was kind of a douchebag but when he came down to it, he managed to get so much traction and so much traffic on SlideShare because of the kind of content he put up.

He managed to get a job as the head of Tourism in Australia social media. Stuff like that really just changes the landscape of how people are promoting themselves and their businesses. I think the platform is something that's very powerful if you know how to use it. I encourage people to at least try it out before they say it's not going to work out for them. If you are on the B2B space, you are selling services or, even if you are selling science business, I've seen lots of science businesses as users SlideShare [inaudible 00:22:20] successfully. Just get on the platform, start creating content that is noble to your business and that will be relevant to your audience and I think the rest will take care of itself.

Eric: I love it Eugene, and this has been a fantastic, what's the best way for people to find you online?

Eugene: You can go to our SlideShare page or you can visit my agency website which I think my readers know as well, it's called HighSpark.





Eugene Cheng Page 9 of 10 Eric: Great, okay. Eugene I think you've definitely given everybody awesome news, something to think about when it comes to using SlideShares as an acquisition type of mechanism here. Eugene this has been great. Thanks for being on the show.

Eugene: Thanks for having me.

Speaker 1: Thanks for listening to this episode of Growth Everywhere, if you loved what you heard be sure to head back to growtheverywhere.com for today's show notes and a ton of additional resources. Before you go, hit the subscribe button to avoid missing out our next week's value-packed interview. Enjoy the rest of your week and remember to take action and continue growing.





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