Stefanos Karagos describes himself as an information alchemist. And in his SlideShare presentations, he’s mastered the magical formula.

The founder of XPLAIN has received accolades for his presentations, which range across topics like online reputation, social media, content strategy, and mind mapping.

Karagos was one of the 13 experts we approached for the Masters of SlideShare project. But we wanted to share all the advice he offered us. So here’s the full interview.

When did you first start using SlideShare and what drew you to it?

I started using it about five years ago. At the time I was trying to find a solution to embed a presentation I had done into my blog. So I just Googled it!

SlideShare came up. I tested it for a bit to check its functionality, usability, and characteristics, and it has been an integral part of my content “arsenal” ever since.

How do you know when you have a topic that will work for SlideShare?

“I’m constantly monitoring news and trends of the industries I care about.” @karagos

As part of the business, but also as a personal “hobby” of mine, I’m constantly monitoring news and trends of the industries I care about. I always try to view things from an industry professional’s perspective and to understand what are the needs that these people have in their daily workload today.

Having done that, it’s always easier and more accurate to work on a topic that people will see on SlideShare and find interesting. Judging from the number of times that presentations created by me and my team at XPLAIN have reached the “Top Presentations of the Day” spot, I guess this approach works!

What are the signs of a successful SlideShare presentation?

Obviously, the number of likes, comments, and shares on other social networks is a clear sign that you have done something right with your presentation. Also, the number of people asking to download it and sending you messages is also a tell-tale sign. For someone just getting started with SlideShare, what would be your first piece of advice?

My primary SlideShare advice will actually be a list of three things.

1. Make it a Story-telling thing! People always enjoy a good story and your message is bound to get through much better this way.

“Be brief, convey your message in a straightforward way…” – @karagos

2. Keep your message clear in every slide. Be brief, convey your message in a straightforward way, and make sure there is no room for misinterpretations.

3. Simplify your design. Avoid busy backgrounds, overly artistic designs, and visual clutter that will distract people from the message. Instead try to focus on clear images and designs that will visually enhance the message you are delivering.

What kind of promotion do you do to get the word out about your SlideShares?

Social media promotion is the best way to spread a message virally. I usually follow a mix-and-match approach of promoted posts, highly targeted Facebook ads and LinkedIn ads. But my main “method” of promotion is to make sure that I create each and every presentation to be memorable and worth sharing, so that people will decide to share it with their friends and colleagues through the Social Web and spread the word for me.

Visuals are clearly important. Do you do all the designs yourself or work with designers?

All the designs that I use in my presentations are mine. Over the years I have created a huge graphic database for my presentations, so I have now reached a point where I can go through it every time I need to design a new SlideShare deck and find the proper ones for each and every slide.

Lots of people say the best result of a SlideShare is getting new business. How do you track when a deal comes about through a SlideShare presentation?

“Helpful, memorable content…on SlideShare is one of the best ways of getting…qualified leads.” – @karagos

My team and I are tracking each and every new lead that comes through the Social Web so that we can evaluate it and nurture it properly, in order to move it down the funnel and eventually turn it into another happy XPLAIN client. So we are constantly monitoring our social network to evaluate its “lead-creating” capabilities, and SlideShare is no exception.

In fact, without disclosing too many details, I can verify it is true that creating helpful, memorable content in the form of a presentation on SlideShare is one of the best ways of getting a lot of leads. And I am talking about qualified leads, that are already interested in hearing more on how we can help them achieve their full business potential.