Using Google Presentations in the Real World

I just wrapped up a speaking tour where I created all of my presentations using Google’s new web based presentations application. This is a look at how that worked.

As a preface, the presentations I created were screen show heavy with only an occasional use of text.

What worked well:

1. Creating slides. This was as easy as clicking New Slide and importing an image for the slide from my computer. My general workflow was to grab a screenshot of a website (or part of website) which auto-copied as a .PNG to my desktop. I’d then browse and select the image which would import it into the presentation. Most common image formats can be imported.

2. Sorting Slides. Moving slides around within a presentation is much like PowerPoint. You have to be a bit more careful about where you click to select a slide, but the workflow is the same.

3. Transitions. I’m not a big fan of slide transitions. Google Presentations doesn’t offer any slide transitions options, so that’s easy to avoid. If you’re someone who’s addicted to sliding bulletpoints onto the screen or using Scooby Doo effects between slides, this is not for you.

4. Presentation Export. Presenting directly from the web can be risky since you can’t always count on Internet connections. Google offers an option to export the presentation as a .PDF which works great for presenting. I’m using a Mac, where the default PDF viewer is Preview. That program pulled up a navigational menu on the screen every time I advanced a slide, so I switch to Acrobat Reader to solve this problem.

What Didn’t Work

I only ran into one critical issue, but it was a big one.

With each speaking stop, I’d copy the previous presentation to start a new one, modify it, then export the revisions as a .PDF for the presentation. I ran into an issue where the .PDF export didn’t work. The presentation would export but the file was corrupt and couldn’t be opened with Acrobat or Preview on my Mac. I couldn’t figure out how to troubleshoot it, so I rebuilt my presentation in time to present it.

Themes: This wasn’t a big one, but I couldn’t figure out how to upload a custom theme / background for my presentation. It wasn’t a big deal for me, since I find logos on every slide distracting, but I could see this being a big issue for many presenters.

Overall, I was impressed with the service. Based on how I build presentations, it worked great for me.

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