Over the past few weeks, many countries around the world have taken drastic measures to slow the spread of COVID-19. With some countries in lockdown many people are working from home. This new workplace environment poses a challenge for businesses whose employees need to collaborate solely over an internet connection, rather than face-to-face, and deliver presentations via video calls for the first time. In response to these current events, we’ve written a comprehensive guide on how to adapt your content – especially presentations – to be delivered online, but what about the creation process?

When preparing a presentation, it’s often the case that multiple people need to contribute content. However, when you’re not working in the same office, this can be difficult. Is it best for multiple people to create different sections in isolation? Or is it better to wait, and create sections one by one? Both of these approaches can prove inefficient – the first often leads to a disjointed story, and the second takes much longer than it should.

There are loads of great online tools that enable you to create presentation content online. Content creation tools like Visme, Canva, Ludus and Prezi all offer subscription packages with collaboration features if you and your team are looking to collaborate online. Of course there’s also the mighty PowerPoint, teamed with Microsoft SharePoint, which allows for real-time collaboration between you and your teams (providing they’re all using Office 365 packages).

But in terms of free online tools that enable real-time collaboration, there’s really only one contender, and that’s Google Slides. We at BrightCarbon like Google Slides because of its collaboration features and intuitive interface. Slides removes the need to email files back and forth or download anything, and helps to eliminate version control issues. All this means that it can help you easily build great presentations with your colleagues, even when working from home.

So, without further ado, let’s look at six ways you can maximise your online collaboration with Google Slides to produce a mind-blowing presentation.

Cloud working

Google Slides is a cloud-native application, meaning you use it online, in the cloud. One of the benefits of this is that your presentation is constantly being saved as you work. Once you’re ready for feedback, it’s simple to share your Google Slides deck with your colleagues. Sharing means granting someone access to view, edit or comment on your presentation. With many people working from home, this can make collaborating much more streamlined. This is great if you need a second opinion on your own work or need multiple team members to work in the same document at the same time.

To share a presentation, all you need to do is click the large Share button on the top right of your screen. This opens a window where you can input the email addresses of the people you want to share with. To the right of the window you will see a button with a pen icon. Using this drop down lets you control what level of access you want to grant: edit, comment, or view.

For more on sharing, check out our Ultimate Guide to Google Slides.

Now that you’ve shared your presentation, anyone with the link you provided will have access to the document you’re working in. If you’ve given them edit access, they can make changes to your slides in real-time. This means lots of people can work in the same version of the deck at once. But how can you make the most of these collaboration features? Let’s take a look.

Collaborators

Collaborators in your deck will be shown as colorful circles on the top right panel. You can hover over these circles to see more information.

You can also watch your collaborators make edits in real time. For example, if a collaborator adds text on slide 2, other collaborators can see them typing. This provides added visibility over work being done, so efforts aren’t duplicated.

Comments

If you want to leave a comment for a co-worker to either direct them, ask a question, or clarify something, it’s easily done – just click the Add comment button in the toolbar, or go to the Insert tab in the menu bar and choose Comment. This will open a box where you can type your comment. To assign an action to a specific person, type the @ symbol and then type their email address. An option will appear for you to assign the comment to that person. When you @somebody in a comment, they will receive an email notification, so you can be sure they won’t accidentally miss it.

Chat

Slides also allows you to chat with your collaborators in real time. To show the chat window, just click the grey person icon at the top right, next to the profile of the person you want to chat with. This opens a chat window where you can discuss your presentation. This feature is great, but only works with people who are currently in the presentation.

Email collaborators

One final feature that can be helpful when working with others is emailing collaborators from within Google Slides. Click File, then click Email collaborators. You can then compose a message in the text box that appears, and select which collaborators to send it to.

Version history

If you normally use desktop software to create your presentations, you probably find yourself emailing different versions back and forth with your colleagues. This can get confusing, especially when it comes to consolidating changes. With Google Slides, you can access previous versions of your deck using the Version History feature.

To access previous versions of the presentation, go to File > Version history > See version history. This opens the version history window, where you can view all past edit rounds back to when the presentation was first created.

You can select the different dates on the right-hand side of the screen to see a preview of that version. If you’re just looking for a particular slide, line of text or image that was deleted, you can simply copy it from the earlier version, close the Version History window and paste it into the latest version. If you want to revert to an earlier version, all you need to do is click Restore this version at the top left of the screen. However, be warned that this will completely replace the current version of your presentation with the version you’re restoring. Though version history is a great feature, it’s worth mentioning that it doesn’t always work perfectly.


With these tips you’ll be collaborating online like a pro in no time. If that has given you a taste for more check out these articles for tips and hacks:

Learn more about editing images here, or go for the full mix tape with our five favourite Google Slides video tutorials.

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Ian Wicks

Communication consultant

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