How to use Google Slides enhancements for presentations

Learn how to customize theme colors, insert audio, enable captions, and get help in Google Slides in G Suite.

How to use Google Slides enhancements for presentations

Google continues to add useful features to Google Slides for people who create, edit, or give presentations. The following four features all work in Google Slides with a full web browser such as Chrome OS or Chrome on macOS or Windows, and were added to Slides between October 2018 and April 2019.

SEE: How to avoid and overcome presentation glitches (free PDF) (TechRepublic)

How to customize theme colors in Google Slides

As of April 2019, you may adjust theme colors within Slides, which is useful when you want to adjust the appearance of your presentation. To tweak your theme colors, select the color option, choose Theme Edit, and then pick the preset you want to adjust with the dropdown menu. Choose your color by entering a hex color code, selecting a preset color from the grid, or picking a color from the displayed options (Figure A).

Figure A

Screenshot that show Customize theme color options, with 4 options for text and backgrounds, 6 accent colors, and 1 link color.

You can now customize theme colors--such as text, background, and accent colors--as you work within Google Slides in a web browser.

How to insert audio in Google Slides

You can add sound files into Google Slides. Choose Insert | Audio, and then select the MP3 or WAV audio file you want on your slide. By default, an inserted audio file will only play when selected. To customize playback, select the inserted audio object, and then choose Format Options to change when audio starts playing, whether the audio loops, adjust the audio volume, among other options (Figure B).

Figure B

Screenshot of inserted audio file icon (a microphone in a circle); with format options show to the right (e.g., auto-play or play when clicked; looped?; stop on slide change?; and various icon size and placement settings)

Insert an audio file into a Google Slide, and then adjust playback options.

You also may adjust the audio icon size and image settings. As of late April 2019, my experiments indicated that audio plays back smoothly not only on the web, but also in the Slides app on Android devices.

An individual audio file, triggered by a click, could play a recorded voice of a customer, a colleague, or a company leader. Audio can enhance presentations in several different ways. Recorded audio associated with each slide could add narration when a person could not present slides in person. A long audio file on your first slide might provide background music before you begin your presentation or during a slide displayed during a break.

How to enable captions in Google Slides

When you present Google Slides, you can turn on closed captions to convert speech detected by your device's microphone into text displayed below your slides (Figure C). The system adjusts words as it gains additional context, so you may notice that the spelling of a word changes as the system processes additional words in a sentence.

Figure C

Screenshot of a slide with recognized captions below: "Captions show the speaker's words below as you present"

When presenting with Google Slides in a web browser, enable Closed Captions to convert and display text below your slides as you speak.

Live captioning in Google Slides also works with inserted audio files. If the audio you insert contains recorded speech, and you have Closed Captions enabled with sound played from your laptop, the captioning system will attempt to convert the speech to text. In a few tests I did, the captions accurately reflected the recorded audio inserted into a slide.

Using Help in Google Slides: Training and Updates

Google added options to the Help menu in Google Slides, Sheets, and Docs in April 2019. Select Help and at least three options should display: Docs/Sheets/Slides Help, Training, and Updates (Figure D).

Figure D

Screenshot of Google Slides help menu. The first three options: Slides Help, Training, Updates.

Within Slides, the Help menu provides access to Training resources as well as Updates. Explore the updates to learn of new features, improvements, and changes.

The Training menu option links to an appropriate G Suite Learning Center page, which contains cheat sheets, resources, tips, and more. The individual app help (i.e., Slides Help) shows popular questions, links to help articles, as well as the Google Docs Editors Help Community forum.

The most useful Help menu item is Updates. Select Help | Updates when in Slides, Sheets, or Docs to see the most recent enhancements to each app.

Your experience?

Have you used any of the above four Google Slides features? How have you inserted audio files in presentations? How accurate have closed captions been in your experience? Let me know--either in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

Also see

Drawing of Google Slides, with arrows and text for each of the 4 features: Insert audio, More help, Customize theme colors, and Live captions
Image: TechRepublic/Andy Wolber