The Ultimate Guide to Google Slides

The Ultimate Guide to Google Slides in 2024

Google Slides has become the go-to presentation software for everyone from students to business professionals. It‘s intuitive, easy to use, and best of all, free with your Google account. But many people barely scratch the surface of what‘s possible with this powerful tool.

In this ultimate guide, we‘ll walk you through everything you need to know to create stunning, impactful presentations with Google Slides. Whether you‘re a complete beginner or a seasoned pro, you‘ll discover new features and techniques to take your slide decks to the next level.

Why Use Google Slides?
There are plenty of presentation programs out there, so what makes Google Slides special? Here are a few key benefits:

  • Cloud-based – access your presentations from any device
  • Real-time collaboration – easily share and edit slides with others
  • Totally free – no need to pay for expensive software licenses
  • Integrates with other Google apps – embed Docs, Sheets, Forms and more
  • Wide selection of templates – find ready-made designs for any topic
  • Easy to use – simple, intuitive interface for users of all skill levels

Getting Started
To create a new Google Slides presentation, simply go to and click the blank template to start from scratch. You can also choose from a variety of pre-designed templates for different themes, styles and purposes.

If you have an existing PowerPoint presentation you want to edit in Google Slides, you can import the .pptx file and Slides will automatically convert it. Just go to File > Open > Upload in Google Slides.

The Google Slides Interface
When you first open Google Slides, you‘ll see a main editing window with your slide(s) in the center. Surrounding this are several key areas and tools:

  • Menu bar (File, Edit, View, Insert, Format, Tools, Help)
  • Toolbar with options to add slides, format text, insert items, and more
  • Slide navigation pane on the left to manage the order and layout of slides
  • Filmstrip view at the bottom to click between slides
  • Main canvas in the center to edit the content of each slide

We‘ll dive into more detail on how to use these elements, but the basic structure is quite user-friendly and easy to grasp.

Adding and Arranging Slides
One of the first things you‘ll want to do is add slides and arrange them into a cohesive presentation. To insert a new slide, just click the "+" button on the top left. You can also right-click a slide in the navigation pane and select "New slide."

To change the order of your slides, simply click and drag them to a new position in the navigation pane or filmstrip view. You can also right-click a slide and select "Move slide to beginning/end."

If you want to apply the same layout to multiple slides, right-click the slide with the desired layout, choose "Copy," select the slides you want to apply it to, then right-click and select "Paste layout." This will copy over the placement of text boxes and other elements.

Adding Text and Formatting
To add text, click the "Text box" button in the toolbar or just start typing on the slide. You can also copy text from another document and paste it into a text box. To format your text, use the options in the toolbar to change the font, size, color, alignment, and more.

One handy feature is the ability to create bulleted or numbered lists by clicking the list icons in the toolbar. You can also use keyboard shortcuts like Ctrl+Shift+8 for a bulleted list.

To customize the size and position of a text box, just click and drag the corners to resize, or click and drag the box itself to move it. If you hold Shift while resizing, it will maintain the same proportions.

Inserting Images, Videos, and Shapes
To insert an image, click the "Image" button in the toolbar and choose from your Google Drive, computer, a URL, or a Google Images search. Once it‘s inserted, you can click and drag to move or resize the image.

For videos, you can embed a YouTube or Google Drive video by pasting the link after clicking the "Video" button. Google Slides supports a variety of video formats including .MP4, .MOV, .FLV and more.

To add shapes like squares, circles, lines and arrows, use the "Shape" button in the toolbar. You can customize the color, outline, and size of the shapes. To add text on top of a shape, just double-click it.

Working with Charts and Diagrams
To create a chart, click "Chart" in the toolbar and select from the various types of bar, column, pie and line graphs. Google Slides will prompt you to enter the data for the chart, which you can type or paste in.

For more complex visualizations, try the "Diagram" option, which provides pre-built templates like timelines, process charts, and relationship diagrams. You can customize the shapes, colors and text to fit your content.

Adding Transitions and Animations
To add visual interest and flow to your presentation, Google Slides offers a variety of transitions you can insert between slides. Just click "Transition" in the toolbar and choose an effect like fade, dissolve, or flip. You can also adjust the speed and apply the same transition to all slides.

For animating specific elements on a slide, select the object and click "Insert > Animation." Here you can choose options like fade in, fly in, or zoom for images, shapes and text boxes. Use the "Order" drop-down to set whether the animation happens with a click, after the previous animation, or on a timer.

Collaborating in Google Slides
One of the standout features of Google Slides is the ability to easily collaborate with others in real time. To invite someone to view or edit your presentation, just click the blue "Share" button and enter their email address.

You can give individuals permission to view, comment, or edit the file. Collaborators can leave comments by highlighting text or an object and clicking the add comment icon. You‘ll get an email notification when someone mentions you in a comment.

When multiple people are editing a presentation, you‘ll see their names and cursor positions highlighted with different colors. Any changes are automatically saved and synced for all collaborators.

Using Presenter Tools
Google Slides has convenient tools to help you seamlessly present your slide deck. In the "Present" view, you‘ll see your current slide, speaker notes, and a timer.

You can also use the pointer tool to draw attention to certain parts of the slide in real-time. The audience won‘t see your mouse movements, just the red pointer marks.

Another handy option is the Q&A feature. Clicking this will open a link where audience members can submit questions during your presentation. You can then view and answer them without disrupting the flow of your talk.

For accessibility, you can turn on automatic captions that display the speaker‘s words in real-time at the bottom of each slide. Google Slides uses voice recognition technology to generate the captions.

Exporting and Sharing
When you‘re ready to share your masterpiece with the world, Google Slides lets you easily download the presentation in a variety of formats:

  • PDF (ideal for sending via email or printing)
  • PowerPoint (for editing in Microsoft Office)
  • Image files (PNG or JPG for each slide)
  • Video (MP4 that plays like a slideshow)

You can also publish the slides to the web, which provides a shareable link that anyone can view in their browser without needing a Google account. For more control, share directly from Google Drive and set the permissions for each person.

To keep your files organized, take advantage of folders in Google Drive. Create a hierarchy of folders to sort your presentations by client, event, date, or any other category.

Tips for Making Great Presentations
Now that you know how to use the key features of Google Slides, let‘s look at some tips and best practices to make your presentations engaging and effective:

  • Start with an outline – plan the structure and flow before filling in details
  • Choose a consistent color scheme and font style
  • Limit each slide to one main point or idea
  • Use high-quality images and graphics to enhance your message
  • Keep text brief – no more than 6-8 lines per slide
  • Include data visualizations to make numbers memorable
  • Apply subtle animations to guide attention
  • Practice your timing and delivery in Presenter view
  • Prepare for audience questions and discussion
  • Follow the 10/20/30 rule – 10 slides, 20 minutes, 30 pt font minimum

With these strategies and the tools in Google Slides, you‘ll be able to craft dynamic presentations that resonate with any audience.

The Advantage Over PowerPoint
For many people, the main alternative to Google Slides is Microsoft PowerPoint. While PowerPoint is a mature, robust program, Google Slides has some key advantages:

  • No need to buy and install software
  • Available on any device with an internet connection
  • Automatically saves changes as you work
  • Makes collaboration seamless and instant
  • Provides unlimited free storage and sharing

Of course, PowerPoint offers some advanced features like detailed chart editing, template customization, and support for third-party extensions. But for the majority of users and uses, Google Slides is a simpler, more accessible, and more affordable option.

New Features in 2024
Google is continually improving Slides with new capabilities, often based on user feedback and requests. Some of the latest updates as of 2024 include:

  • Version history – track changes and revert to earlier versions of a presentation
  • Improved accessibility – automatic alt text for images using machine learning
  • Timeline view – see a linear layout of your slides to easily rearrange them
  • Slide library – save and reuse custom slide layouts across presentations
  • Live captions – real-time captions of the speaker‘s words during playback
  • "Follow along" mode – attendees can automatically see the current slide on their devices

To stay up-to-date on the latest features, check the Google Workspace Updates blog or click "Help > What‘s New" within the Google Slides app.

Advanced Techniques to Try
Once you‘ve mastered the basics of Google Slides, here are a few advanced techniques to take your presentations further:

  1. Add-ons – Install extensions from the Google Workspace Marketplace to expand functionality. Some popular ones include Unsplash for free stock photos, Lucidchart Diagrams for flowcharts, and Pear Deck for interactive presentations.

  2. Custom themes – Ensure a cohesive, professional look by creating your own theme. Go to View > Theme > Edit master to set the fonts, colors, and background for different slide layouts. You can then apply this custom theme to any presentation.

  3. GIFs and videos – Liven up your slides with animated GIFs or embed videos from YouTube, Google Drive, or Vimeo. Just click Insert > Video or Image and paste the link. Keep in mind GIFs can be distracting if overused.

  4. Slide transitions – Beyond the basic options, you can customize slide transitions with easing effects like bounce or cubic-bezier curves. Use the "Slow" speed and apply to all slides for consistency.

  5. Master slides – Edit the master slide (View > Master) to include your logo, footer text, or any other elements you want on every slide. This will automatically apply to each new slide you create.

With these techniques, you can create dynamic, engaging presentations that stand out from the default look of Google Slides.

Standout Presentation Examples
Need some inspiration? Here are a few examples of unique presentations made with Google Slides:

  • "You Can Sketch Too" by Eva-Lotta Lamm – hand-drawn illustrations and creative layouts
  • "How to Think Like a Visual Designer" by Lachezar Petkov – bold colors and graphic elements
  • "The Greatest Sales Pitch" by Sujan Patel – mixes slides with screen recordings and GIFs

For more examples and templates, check out sites like Slides Carnival, SlidesMania, and Slides Go which provide free designs for a variety of styles and topics.

Additional Resources

  • Google Slides Help Center – official documentation and troubleshooting
  • Google Slides Blog – tips, updates and customer stories
  • "Presentation Design" by Erin Greenawald – e-book on slide design principles
  • Coursera‘s "Presentation Skills" class – online video course on effective presenting

With the knowledge and resources in this guide, you‘ll be able to take advantage of the full power and potential of Google Slides. So go ahead – fire up and start creating an amazing presentation!