As presentation nerds, we at BrightCarbon have had plenty of opportunity to get to know ins and outs of Google’s browser-based presentation tool. This guide will cover everything you need to know about Google Slides - from the very basics to the most advanced features - and will provide you with the know-how to make brilliant slides, quickly and easily.
Microsoft PowerPoint is often considered the gold standard of presentation software. It’s been around the longest, has heaps of useful features, and is perhaps the most widely used. But that doesn’t mean it can’t learn a thing or two from other players in the field. At BrightCarbon we also love using Google Slides. It has an intuitive interface that makes it incredibly easy to use, and whilst it isn’t as feature-heavy as PowerPoint, regular updates mean it’s slowly catching up! Google Slides benefits from being a browser-based application, and has some unique features that we think are pretty impressive. So we’ve whittled down our 9 favourite Google Slides features that we think Microsoft could take on board!
Curate a personalised font library with access to 800+ Google Fonts
Using Google Slides means you can access and make use of the entire Google Fonts library. This means you can choose from over 800 fonts and bring some variety to your presentation projects. What’s more, you can access the entire Google Fonts library from within Google Slides. Simply click the Fonts drop down in the toolbar, and select More fonts… right at the top. This opens a new window containing all the Google Fonts.
From here, you can click any font to add it to your Google Slides drop down list. You’ll know that it’s selected when the font name turns blue, and has a small blue tick to the left.
You can also deselect any fonts that you don’t want to appear in the drop down list. This is a super handy feature, and essentially means you can curate your own custom font list, so that only the fonts you want to see appear when you click the drop down Fonts menu. Once you’re happy with your selection, click the OK button to the bottom left. You can go back and change up your font selection at any time!
Google Slides features a nifty built-in feature called Audience Q&A, which allows presentation audiences to ask questions virtually, by simply following a link and posting questions either anonymously or under their email address.
The tool provides an opportunity for audience members to ask questions they may be too nervous to ask out loud, and also gives the presenter time to read through the questions – perhaps during a break – and formulate answers properly before responding.
Audience Q&A is a great opportunity to make your presentation more engaging and interactive for participants. To learn how to use this feature, head to the ‘Presenting your work’ section of our Google Slides guide.
(Note: Whilst question and answer features aren’t a standard PowerPoint feature, there are a number of add-ins you can download to interact with your audience. We’ve reviewed one such add-in – Mentimeter.)
Sync slides across multiple decks
With Google Slides, you can sync slides across multiple decks. This means that if you make updates to a specific slide in a specific deck, the changes will be updated across other synced slides that may sit in different decks. This is particularly handy if, for example, you have a slide containing data that you need to update regularly. Instead of going into each deck that contains that slide and editing them manually, you can update just the original slide and sync across multiple decks in one go.
To do this, follow these simple instructions:
In the slide pane, right click the slide thumbnail for the slide you want to use in multiple presentations and select Copy. Now open the presentation you want to paste the slide into, right click into the slide pane bar, and select Paste. At this point a small white box will appear in the top left corner of the slide, entitled Link options. Click Link slides.
Now a link button will appear on the slide, giving you the option to Unlink the slide or to Open Source, for if you wanted to view the original slide. If you then changed the content on the original slide (for example, adding a new title) the linked slide will now give you an extra option, Update. If you click Update, the new title from the original slide will be applied to the linked slide, too.
Publish to web
Slides has an easy-to-use publishing feature that helps you share your Slides deck across the web. It’s particularly useful if you want to share your deck with somebody who doesn’t have a Google account, or if your presentation is self-running. With Publish to web, people can simply click the link you share with them and watch your presentation run from start to finish.
For more on using the Publish to web feature and creating a self-running presentation, head to the ‘Presenting your work’ section of our Ultimate Guide to Google Slides.
Editing and playing GIFs
Options for editing GIFs are far more advanced in Google Slides than in PowerPoint. You can crop a GIF, recolour it, resize it, and much more without losing quality or hindering its ability to play.
Both desktop and online versions of PowerPoint support GIF playback, though only in present mode. A cool Google Slides feature is that GIFs will play outside of present mode, while you are editing them. This gives greater visibility over the changes you are making, and a better ability to preview how your work will look as you edit your slide.
Easy access to other apps via side panel
If you’re a fan of Google’s other G Suite apps, the built-in side panel may help boost your productivity. The side panel provides easy access to other Google apps, such as Calendar, Keep, and Tasks. Having the ability to launch these apps in the same window as your Slides deck – rather than in a separate tab – means that you can stay on top of multiple workloads at once, without getting distracted from your presentation. With Google Keep, you can even pull your saved Keep notes straight onto your slide via the side panel!
Add images from more places
Both Google Slides and PowerPoint have functionality for adding images. However, Google Slides features a lot more options. In PowerPoint online, you can only add images from desktop, Bing, or OneDrive. In Google Slides there are options to add images from desktop, Google Images, Google Drive, Google Photos, or directly from your camera. Granted, some of these features require you to already use some of Google’s tools, but being able to add images directly from a camera device is surely a useful feature.
Explore is a handy little feature that’s built into Slides and some other G Suite apps, like Docs and Sheets. It sits in the bottom right corner of the screen, and once clicked launches a search feature that lets you browse the web, Google Images, and your own drive files to find the content you need. Similar to the side panel (mentioned earlier) the Explore button lets you do more from within one single tab, meaning you’re less likely to need to leave Slides to find the different assets and resources you need to build your presentation.
Voice type speaker notes
PowerPoint does have built-in functionality for voice typing speaker notes, however – at present – only Office 365 subscribers can access this feature. If you want to access this functionality without paying for it, Google Slides offers the option for free. Plus, it’s incredibly easy to use. To use it access the Speaker notes bar by pulling up from the bottom, then go to Tools in the menu bar and select Voice type speaker notes…. This will launch a new window to the left of your slide.
When you are ready, click the microphone icons and begin speaking. You’ll see your words appear as text in the Speaker notes bar. This feature works best when speaking clearly into a good microphone or headset.
Whilst the Google Slides features listed here (aside from the amazing collaboration functionality) aren’t exactly game changing, they go a long way to making Slides a more intuitive and accessible tool. This is why we think Microsoft should take a leaf out of Google’s book, and adopt some of the features that make it a more connected, easy-to-use app! If you want to learn more about how to get the most out of Google Slides, check out our comprehensive guide.Leave a comment
Principal consultant (interim)View Natty Moore's profile
- Google Slides
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We really struggled not being able to add customisable maps to Google Slides, so we made our own. And if, like us, you're looking for a way to add editable maps to Google Slides, we’ve made our map available for you to download and use as well!
If you’re using Google Slides to create an important presentation, you may be considering employing a presentation design agency to help bring your content to life. Is employing an agency really worth the effort when Slides is so easy to use?
BrightCarbon creates compelling visuals and storylines, helping us to convey value in a fiercely competitive marketplace.Neil Davidson Deltek