How to use new Google Slides features to create better business presentations

In September 2017, Google released updates to improve Sites, Cloud Search, and Sides. Here's how the new features in Slide can help teams collaborate, store ideas, and enable third party apps.

Illustration showing two browser windows, side-by-side, with arrows showing linked slides, Add-on menu, and Google Keep open to the right
Image: Andy Wolber / TechRepublic

In September 2017, Google updated its G Suite apps. Natural language processing in Google Cloud Search makes it simpler to find data across Mail, Drive, Docs, Sheets, Slides, Calendar, Groups, and Sites (for G Suite Business and Enterprise accounts). Support for iFrames in the new Google Sites allows users to embed more content from the web. Management of files on iOS improved, as the Google Drive app now works with Apple's Files app on iOS 11.

And Google Slides added connections to Google Keep, third-party apps, and also between slides in different presentations. Here's how these new Google Slides connections work --along with some additional insight provided by Zeina Oweis, Product Manager, G Suite.

Linked Slides

The "linked" slide feature lets you keep Google Slides content current across many presentations. Copy a slide from one presentation, then paste it into another. When you do, a prompt displays with the option to create a "linked" slide, which is a slide you can update whenever the original slide changes.

"Linked slides can be used for any content that will need to be updated as time progresses-like text and numbers-as well as things like formatting updates, including changing brand colors or font," said Oweis in an email. "If one team is using linked slides to maintain a more complex project, like outlining pricing or company roadmaps, it allows another group to feel confident that they have the most up-to-date information to pull from."

When I tried to create my first linked slide, I struggled, until I viewed the Google animation that showed the cut-and-paste process. I worried that linked slides were a bit of a "hidden" feature. "The current feature is contextual," Oweis said. "Users only need it when they're copying the slide from one presentation to another, so that's where we offer the user the option to link the slides."

Animated GIF showing how to copy a slide, paste it into another presentation -- then linked the two.

From Google Slides in your browser, copy a slide, then paste the slide into another presentation. Choose to link the slides, so that when the source slide changes, the linked slide can update, too.

Google Keep + Slides

Google Keep works with Slides in two ways.

First, you can create content in Google Keep -- on your phone, tablet, or browser -- then drag-and-drop it into a slide. From Google Slides in your browser, go to Tools Keep notepad to display your notes, then drag a note into a slide. Since Google Keep works on iOS and Android, and each note can contain text, a list, a photo, or a sketch, you can use Google Keep as a way to capture ideas for slides anywhere.

Animated GIF showing how to open Keep in Slides -- then move notes onto a slide.

Go to Tools > Keep notepad to display Google Keep within Slides. Then drag-and-drop items from Keep to Slides.

Second, you can capture an idea from a Slide in a Keep note for use elsewhere: When you add a note to Keep while opened in Slides, the note automatically includes a link to the presentation. If you see something in a presentation you need to follow-up on, capture the idea in Keep so you can refer to the source presentation later. Once the idea is in Keep, you can set a time or place alert to remind yourself of the note later.

Animated GIF showing a new note added while Slides is open -- with the link to the presentation in the note

With the Keep notepad enabled in Google Slides, you can make new Keep notes that auto-link to the presentation.

Slide Add-ons

Users, G Suite administrators, and developers all benefit from Add-ons, which are now available in Slides, as well as Google Docs and Sheets. Users can access several stock image sources for photos and icons, along with diagram (LucidChart), wireframe (Balsamiq Wireframes), and assessment (Pear Deck) tools.

Screenshot of Slides add-ons as of October 2017 (shows 9 apps)

Add-ons let people add photos, images, diagrams, and other items from third-party developer apps into Slides.

G Suite administrators benefit because they can "deploy third-party add-ons to an entire domain," Oweis said. (Here's how to enable add-ons for your G Suite domain.) And developers benefit because Google works "closely with partners to help them publish their applications to the G Suite Marketplace and benefit from our wide reach," she added. "We encourage developers who are interested in publishing add-ons for Slides to visit for more information."

Your thoughts?

To see a list of all recent updates -- including new headers and footers in Google Sheets, improved admin controls for Google+, and more granular mobile management controls -- see Google's "What's New in G Suite" September update.

If you've tried it, what do you think of the linked slides capability? And do you find new Google Keep integration with Slides useful? Let me know in the comments below or on Twitter (@awolber).

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