How to repurpose a white paper into a slide deck

Here’s how to repurpose a white paper into a slide deck, part 4 of our ongoing series.

See links at the bottom of this post to the other articles in this series.

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 paper Slide deck
Format Mainly text, some graphics Graphics + voice
Scope Deep detail Highlights only
Medium Screen or paper Screen only
Viewed By one person alone Mainly by groups

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 the thumbnails below.

three slides repurposed from white paper - That White Paper Guy

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

Here are a few more details about each slide.

Slide 1: Alarming factoid

slide of man yawning - That White Paper Guy

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 highlights this one alarming fact.

Slide 2: Surprising assertion

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

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

And we make a surprising claim that it’s proven more effective than sleeping pills. This claim is backed up by WHO and medical authorities in 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 three associations cited as sources.

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

And notice how the slide is still dominated by the graphic. A presenter can do talk to this slide while showing this graphic to help the main point sink into the minds of the audience.

Slide 3: Screenshot

slide of mobile app download page - That White Paper Guy

Here’s a screenshot of the mobile app and the download page from the client’s company.

Showing the recommended solution is often a good idea, especially for somewhat intangible products like apps or online services.

There’s a ton 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—aka chocolate—you want 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 GuyFor a numbered list—aka strawberry—you need a slide or two for every point, along with 1 or 2 more at the start for the introduction, plus 1 or 2 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 slides for the numbered points
  • 1 or 2 slides at the end

That totals 12 to 14 slides in all, so the estimate holds.

scoop of vanilla ice cream - That White Paper GuyFor a backgrounder—aka vanilla—you want 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 more 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 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 for each feature and its benefits
  • 2 at the end

That totals up to a dozen slides in all. For a longer 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.

Of course, if you plan to deliver a 30-minute webinar, you may not want to sit on each slide for 7 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!

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 recent 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 afterwards.

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’s loads of places where you can use a B2B slide deck: on the company’s own website, during presentations, on SlideShare and 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.


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. 

About Gordon Graham

Author close to 300 white papers on everything from choosing enterprise software to designing virtual worlds for kids, for clients everywhere from Silicon Valley to Switzerland, for everyone from tiny startups to 3M, Google and Verizon. Also wrote White Papers for Dummies which earned 50 5-star ratings on Amazon. Reviewers call it "a must-read... fantastic... outstanding... terrific... phenomenal... the best book of its kind."

1 Comment

  1. […] Graham, Gordon, How to repurpose a white paper into a slide deck,, October […]

Leave a Comment