I’ve been a longtime fan of Slideshare.net ever since I discovered it over three years ago. For those unfamiliar with the site, Slideshare.net is kind of like YouTube for PowerPoint; it offers a platform for users to upload slide presentations and embed them at their own site. But Slideshare’s usefulness doesn’t stop there – I’ve often recommended the site as a source to track trends (by running searches on topics like “law” and seeing what kinds of presentations people are giving) or simply get inspired by creative uses of Powerpoint like this one on Building an Innovative Law Practice by Matt Homann (it’s a classic if you haven’t seen it).
I’ve been presenting at conferences more frequently these days, I’ve been spending more time at SlideShare, only to find myself increasingly disappointed and frustrated with the quality of what’s there. Apparently, Slideshare has expanded its scope, to include document uploads, presumably to capture market from docstoc.com and scribd.com. And even more disappointing, Slideshare tolerates lots of advertisement-only, SEO-driven uploads – like snapshots of websites or landing-page type promotions. Between non-presentations and all of the spam, it’s becoming harder with each visit to quickly lay hands on the gorgeous, high-quality presentations that originally drew me to the site.Instead of focusing on its core business – dissemination of amazing slides – Slideshare is trying to become something to everyone. And in doing so, it’s diminishing the value of what it does best. Begrudgingly, I’ll continue using Slideshare because as of yet, there still aren’t any other sites that offer the same collection of slides in an easy-to-find, spam-free environment. But I miss the Slideshare that I raved about when I first discovered it.
By the way, if you haven’t already guessed, Slideshare’s demise holds a lesson for solo and small firm lawyers. Are you expanding beyond what you do best in an effort to grab market share from competitors? If you can credibly offer an alternative to what others provide, more power to you. But if expanding your practice is stretching you too thin and annoying your clients or exposing you to possible grievances or malpractice liability, then don’t do it. In today’s overcrowded legal market, lawyers fail to take care of their clients at their peril. In contrast to Slideshare, which doesn’t yet have any viable competitors, clients have plenty of other lawyers whom they can choose to serve them.