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How to repurpose a white paper into a slide deck

Here’s how to repurpose a white paper into a slide deck.

This is part 4 of our ongoing series. For other posts in this series, see the links at the bottom of this post.

keyboard with recycle key - That White Paper GuyA slide deck makes a good companion to any white paper, since the two are so different. 

For example, you can use a slide deck to present the highlights of the topic in an online webinar or in-house presentation.

Then you can offer a white paper to those who want more details.

Consider the key differences between these two types of content, as shown in the following table.


White paperSlide deck
FormatMainly text, some graphicsGraphics and voice
ScopeDeep researchHighlights only
MediumScreen or paperScreen only
ViewedBy one person aloneBy groups of people


three slides repurposed from white paper - That White Paper Guy

Our sample slides

In this case, the client didn’t actually repurpose the white paper to use as a presentation.

Instead, we created a few sample slides to show how this white paper could be repurposed as a slide deck.

To see those slides as a PPT file, click on the thumbnails above.

To see those slides as a PDF with notes, click here.

Here are a few more details about each slide.

slide of man yawning - That White Paper Guy

Slide 1: Alarming factoid

The white paper includes the disturbing factoid that sleep deprivation costs companies an average of $3,200 per employee per year.

Imagine if you’ve got 10,000 employees. That adds up! So this slide does nothing beyond highlighting this one alarming fact. And that’s enough!

slide of woman staring at alarm clock - That White Paper Guy

Slide 2: Surprising assertion

The white paper recommends a new approach to help get a good night’s sleep: cognitive behavior therapy for insomnia, or CBTi.

And we make a surprising claim that CBTi is more effective than sleeping pills. This claim is backed up by WHO and medical authorities in the U.S. and the UK.

There’s a lot of small text on this slide, but two-thirds of that is simply the names of the three associations being cited as sources.

For any B2B content to be effective, you need to have credible sources lined up.

And notice how the slide is driven by the graphic, showing an assortment of pills beside a clock reading 3 AM and the pill-popper still wide awake.

That means a presenter can talk while showing this slide and the power of the graphic helps the main point sink into the minds of the audience.

slide of mobile app download page - That White Paper Guy

Slide 3: Screenshot

Here’s a screenshot of the mobile app and the download page from the client’s company. Showing the recommended solution is a good idea for an intangible product like an app.

There’s a lot of text on this webpage, but you don’t expect your audience to actually read it. The heading at the top tells the whole story in six words.


How many slides do you need?

To cover the highlights of a typical white paper, 12 to 16 slides is enough. Here are some pointers on how to manage this for each main flavor of white paper.

scoop of chocolate ice cream - That White Paper GuyFor a problem/solution white paper (chocolate)

You want your slides to cover every significant point the executive summary touches on.

That means you can divide your slides into three main sections:

  • The problem
  • The traditional solutions, and why they don’t work
  • The new recommended solution

About a dozen slides should be enough for this flavor.

scoop of strawberry ice cream - That White Paper Guy


For a numbered list (strawberry)

For this flavor, you want your slides to capture every point in the numbered list.

That means you need a slide or two for every point, along with one or two more at the start for the introduction, plus one or two more at the end for the conclusions.

Let’s consider a numbered list with five points.

Going by this formula, you will need:

  • 1 or 2 slides at the start
  • 2 x 5 = 10 slides for the numbered points
  • 1 or 2 slides at the end

That totals 12 to 14 slides in all, so the original estimate of 12 to 16 holds true.

scoop of vanilla ice cream - That White Paper Guy

For a backgrounder (vanilla)

You want your slides to cover every key feature and the related benefits that the white paper touches on.

That means you need at least one slide for each key feature, plus one for the benefits of that feature. For more complex descriptions, this could increase to two for each feature plus one for the benefits (3 in all).

And you’ll want a couple of slides at the start for the introduction, plus a couple more at the end for the conclusions and call to action.

Let’s consider a backgrounder with four key features and benefits. Going by the formula above, you need:

  • 2 at the start
  • 2 x 4 = 8 for each feature and its benefits
  • 2 at the end

That totals a dozen slides in all.

For a more complex presentation, simply add more slides on each feature.

A dozen slides should do it

You can see that for any flavor, about a dozen slides can be enough.

That gives you about a minute and a half for each slide to reach the recommended TED Talk length of 18 minutes.

Of course, if you plan to deliver a 45-minute webinar, you probably don’t want to sit on each slide for nearly 3.5 minutes.

In this case, you can add interest by building some slides point by point or splitting the longer slides in two.

Whatever you do, don’t put your audience to sleep by making them sit through 10 slides on the grand history and stirring achievements and customer service philosophy of your company. Boooooring!

Instead, sum up the company in one slide, right at the end. Your audience will thank you.

Photo of young business person falling asleep during boring slideshow

Use visuals, not text

[Tweet “Repurposing means re-imagining the same ideas in a different format. “] You’ve already got a narrative document, the white paper. For a slide deck, you really want to use visuals and keep the text to a minimum.

Not sure where to find good visuals?

Check out our article on cost-effective sources for good stock photos.

If a viewer wants more information, have the white paper available as a download they can get to read afterward.

The last thing you want is so much text crammed onto the slides that your audience starts to read. You don’t want them to read; you want them to listen to your presenter!

How to promote your slide deck

There are loads of places where you can use a B2B slide deck. You give a  presentation and then load it up on the company’s own website, on SlideShare and on similar sites.

For those who haven’t thought about how to publicize an upcoming white paper, a slide deck is an easy and excellent promotional tool.

And here’s how to find the other parts of this series:

Here’s part 1 on the original white paper.

See part 2 on repurposing it as a press release.

See part 3 on repurposing it as a set of blog posts.

And here’s part 5 on creating a landing page for this white paper.


Have you ever repurposed a white paper into a slide deck? Did you learn any tips from that exercise? Please leave your comment below.

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About Gordon Graham

Worked on 320+ white papers for clients from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients from tiny startups to 3M, Google, and Verizon. Wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 60+ 5-star ratings on Amazon. Won 16 awards from the Society for Technical Communication. Named AWAI 2019 Copywriter of the Year.

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