Back when I was in college in the early 2000s, I only had a few assignments that needed presentation software. Microsoft PowerPoint was the most popular choice for presentations. My presentations were simple, using mostly text, lists, or pictures. Inserted video would only play in a media player.
Today, using my prehistoric knowledge of PowerPoint, I tried to create a presentation using Google Slides by using all the basic tools that I used in PowerPoint. Google Slides made making presentations surprisingly enjoyable.
When you start a new presentation, you have the option of choosing a theme from Google or importing your own. Google’s themes are ok, but a bit basic. There are a lot of other themes available in Google Docs Templates, so you’re not stuck with the same set.
Even though there are preset layouts, each one is customizable. You can move the text box around, change orientation, and customize the font. It’s very similar to PowerPoint, but the simplicity of the layout in Slides is much easier. It’s quicker to get to the options you want rather than hunting for them.
Adding text to slides is easy; select the text box feature and start typing. You can customize the text and adjust the size of the text box to fit. Depending on the theme, you may need to adjust the font color if it matches the background. If you’re going for a simple presentation, the best decision is to use an interesting theme.
Since most information is presented using words, it’s important that there is an impact with your text and Slides offers a good font selection.
Visuals can grab viewers’ attention quicker than text. Adding relevant images is really important, but in the case of this test I chose images that I had in Google Drive. You can easily upload images to add, but the ability to add images from Drive (or a shared folder) makes group projects much easier. Slides is a powerful tool for collaboration.
Since Drive serves as your cloud storage, you can access all your important images fast. Also Slides supports animated GIFs. You can even replace the background with a GIF that will animate in the background. Whether this has a real use doesn’t matter, it’s the potential of using animations inside a presentation.
Slides also supports video, although embedded videos are limited to YouTube. A quick workaround would be to upload a video to YouTube to use in a presentation. You can use unlisted videos but not private ones.
You can’t play them when you’re editing the presentation, but they will play when you’re actually presenting.
If you have a lot of comparative data, using a table is the best way to show it. Unfortunately you can’t add different types of tables like circle graphs, but those can be imported as an image. The simplicity of tables may be better used as placeholders until you get the actual table you want to import.
Individual section of slides can be animated. Depending how you want information be presented, you can animate text boxes, images, and tables display to give some life to a static slide. The rules are simple: on click, after previous, and with previous. So depending on how you decide to display the data it can animate on command or all at once in order.
A decent alternative
While I don’t know how many people need to make presentations now, Google Slides does a decent job of covering your basic needs. Since there’s a high level of customization, slides don’t have to be the standard title and bold list. Adding photos and animated GIFs give a lot of life to slides and the ability to embed YouTube videos can be really useful to keep people interested.
The biggest weakness of Slides is the lack of table varieties and inserting a picture of a table is hardly ideal.
Google Slides will likely suit your collaborative needs, but the web app has been a bit ignored in favor of Docs and Sheets. Those apps probably see a lot more use than Slides and Google is likely focusing development on them instead of improving Slides.
Next up, Google Sheets.