Google Slide Presentations by TLC Creative

We’ve been taking a deep dive into Google Slides with this blog post series. What better way to wrap up than highlighting some of the Google Slide presentations the TLC Creative design team created. Everyone had the same presentation outline and freedom to develop the presentation in any layout and styling direction.






New Episode on The Presentation Podcast!

A new episode of The Presentation Podcast is available today! Troy, Sandy and Nolan share their lists of presentation designer resources; books/magazines, conferences, forums, online resources, podcasts, training, and information channels.

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud – or search The Presentation Podcast for “Presentation Live is Here!” or go direct to the episode page here:


Presenting with Google Slides

Presenting with Google slides is clean and easy process. In the upper right corner click the PRESENT button.

A direct click on the button puts the presentation in full screen slide show (and there is an app to turn a cell phone into a remote for Google Slides!). Click the drop down menu and a few additional options are available; PRESENT FROM BEGINNING (eg. slide #1), PRESENT ON ANOTHER SCREEN (more on this below), and PRESENTER VIEW!

Yes, a web based app that can leverage a multiple monitors, and it does is very well! PRESENTER VIEW opens in a new window and shows the previous, current and next slides. There is a timer, an Audience Q&A feature and SPEAKER NOTES (that can be formatted with styling)  There is also a drop down menu to jump to any slide in the presentation easily (but like PowerPoint, jumping to a slide in a non-linear order does not respect the applied transition effect).

In the AUDIENCE TOOLS is the polling feature. It assumes everyone watching is on a device, and not watching the presentation on a large event screen. What I was really impressed with is how the audience polling integrated into the Presenter View interface (Microsoft – take note!). 

The PRESENT ON ANOTHER SCREEN is a clean interface to a ChromeCast enabled monitor (I can easily see this as a corporate event option of the presenter connecting to a ChromeCast that is inline with the show equipment, enabling a presenter to run their presentation from stage and roam). I also was excited about the thought of having Presenter View on a phone or tablet and the presentation on a wireless screen – but that is not an option…

There is a way to use Google Slides offline, but the safest approach is to plan to be online while presenting. The presenting experience is clean, easy to use and if using Presenter View, very robust.

Troy @ TLC


Google Slides Export Options

Google Slides has the ability to easily convert your Slides Project into a variety of file types. The export options are PDF, SVG, PNG, TXT, ODP, JPEG and full PowerPoint PPTX.

To export your Slides presentation:

  1. At the top menu bar, click File
  2. Select Download as
  3. Select the file type you would like to export to

The image quality is good, but does not offer the ability to set the exported image size. PDF files render all the visual effects in out creations just fine. The Plain Text output is an interesting option, and while traditional bullet list text heavy slides would work well, it does produce a text document of head scratching puzzlement if it is a visual slide deck with multiple callout text boxes that really are not made to make sense in a word only format. SVG output produced very usable files (and this is a recent addition to PowerPoint too), for me it was primarily a way to get vector graphics into Illustrator or After Effects for use in coordinated design elements (eg. presentation and speaker title intro sizzle video). Last, the ability to export to .pptx is not only the first option in the export list (which is another question – how is the export options list organized? It is not alphabetical, it is not by rank of use, what is it organized by?), but it clearly says PowerPoint is the top of the presentation world and other applications need to play nice with it (PowerPoint offers an export to ODP, which is exactly in the SAVE AS menu not the Export menu, but no .slide or any other application native file type).

Troy @ TLC


Google Slides – the Good, the Bad, and the Missing

Google Slides is a popular presenting tool, for good reason and among online only apps, it is the the top of the offering. Last October the TLC Creative design team spent some time as a group diving into Google slides as an internal project (yes, we do Google Slides projects!). After our 2 weeks of intensive Google Slides use we gathered everyone’s feedback and created a number of best practices guidelines for projects. I recently revisited those results and put together our list of how Google Slides compares to PowerPoint and other presentation programs like Canva and Keynote.

As with most applications, Google Slides easy to quickly get started using and seems simple on the surface. We discovered it has a number of surprisingly complex features. And, we discovered there are some areas where it just does not compete with are main benchmark, PowerPoint.

The big question to ask is – how do you know if Google Slides is right for your presentation? 

There are plenty of great features included in Google Slides. Perhaps the most obvious advantages include its collaboration functionality – multiple people can work on the same presentation at the same time, and it’s easy to track revisions that were made (and who made them and when – and you can restore to an old version if needed). It’s online platform does a great job of showing who is editing a file and shows revisions in real time with highlighted boxes.

Of course, as a Google product, Google Slides (“Slides”) functions seamlessly with other Google apps, such as Sheets and Drive. Plus, for the shortcut users, it has the familiar short keys that designers will be familiar with from Adobe products, including CTRL-D for duplicate, holding ALT to resize from center, and more.

The real question is how does it stack up compared to other presentation platforms? We love that, unlike Canva, Google Slides allows you to insert actual tables, and it has additional export options such as JPG, PNG, and SVG. Google Slides has the ability to apply animation effects – and animate elements separately (a common feature in PowerPoint, but something not possible in Canva). On the export options, it has an export to PDF or PowerPoint…

Google Slides does have a Slide Master structure. It is not as robust as a properly setup PowerPoint template, but it does update graphics and placeholders that appear on all slides. It also cooperates with a number of useful add-ons, such as Vizzlo charts, which bypasses the need to learn Google Sheets to make charts for your presentation.


Google Slides comes with its limitations. In trying to create a simple to use workspace, Google Slides inadvertently makes some things more difficult and more unintuitive than we feel is necessary. It does have a color scheme feature, but it is difficult to create a custom theme (something we implement on every PowerPoint template). There are a few pre-made color schemes, but they feel too “default” and overused (same thing for PowerPoint, we never settle for the provided color schemes).

Another problem area is charts. The only way to edit a chart is with Google Sheets, which is essentially Excel Light. In order to figure out how to build a chart in Sheets, you must already know real Excel (hey, we have a team of visual designers, Excel is not our thing – hence PowerPoint’s simplified excel feature set directly in PowerPoint is appreciated!). After a chart is created, the simple act of updating the data, colors, or fonts involves another trip into Sheets, which also means we are not seeing how the visual styling looks on the slide until we import the updated chart. And a grumble among everyone on our team was charts are difficult to resize. They appear stretched if you resize it inside of Slides, meaning yet another trip to Sheets, then refresh the link in Slides to see if the simple resize is what was needed. One of the tips we have is to work with a dual monitor setup; Google slides on one monitor, Google Sheets on the other monitor. This limits some of the back-and-forth between browser tabs just to get something seemingly simple like resizing or recoloring accomplished.

Other items on our “the BAD” list include no “reset” button to snap everything back into its master layout defined position and formatting (note: if you right click and use “Apply Layout” things basically start over). Inserting a vector image creates a convert-upload-convert-insert-convert ordeal. Google Slides does handle some file formatting PowerPoint does not, if you can deal with the process of getting them onto the slide (we still prefer PowerPoint’s drag-n-drop or copy-paste simplicity of adding graphic elements to slides). 

Even some of the cool features that are impressive, make the bad list by having big limitations. As example, a PowerPoint other presentation file can be uploaded to Google Drive, then converted to a Google Slides presentation (because PowerPoint and Adobe PDF do not have options to export a Google Slides format document). But there is an unfortunate 100 MB size limit for that conversion, which as presentation designers just isn’t realistic. There is a handy “Search the Web” for images feature (Insert > Image > Search the Web), but the usable results are generally pretty limited, and there is no visible attribution information, which is important to us (and our clients) as these are not open source images.


Finally, there are the features and tools that Google Slides just plain doesn’t have as part of its offerings. The choices for animation are limited, and they represent only a few of the basic and moderate effects found in PowerPoint and Keynote. Things like customizing the animation effect, such as its speed, is there, but with a drag toggle interface, no number input, quick selection, or ability to apply to multiple elements at the same time – we are stuck with applying customizations to animations one by one. Slide transitions also suffer the same. There are limited options, such as “fade” (the most common transition effect in all presentation software) being a fade through black (and we felt it was a choppy fade effect). 

As mentioned earlier, colors are also difficult to work with in Google Slides (and all Google products). You can add a custom color to specific elements with either a HEX value or by using Hue and transparency sliders can be done. Changing the overall presentation color scheme is trickier. There are two sets of colors: the “default” color scheme, with tints and shades like in Office products, and then below that is a single line of the presentation color scheme. You can edit the custom scheme, but if you are able to edit the default color scheme, we can’t figure out how. This is frustrating as you’re limited to the exact colors of your custom color scheme, and not the tints and shades that help create a well-designed presentation.

We’ve already addressed some of the issues with charts, but there are some missing features that would increase usability and customization significantly, including the ability to change the color and weight of the axes in a chart (which, again, is a limitation of Google Sheets, not Slides). You also can’t remove the axes without also removing the labels, which can pose stylistic issues. 

The toolbar is generally familiar, and similar to PowerPoint’s. But not all the tools function in the same way. Perhaps most notable is the paintbrush tool; in PowerPoint the format painter “paint brush” will copy color, font, size, and position. In Slides, it will only replicate the color and font, leaving you to manually resize and shift position.


At the end of the day, Google Slides is a powerful tool for collaboration, quick and simple presentation building and editing, and integration with other Google Products. Will we at TLC Creative be replacing PowerPoint with Slides anytime soon? Definitely not. But mastering this tool and adding it to our professional services is just one more way we can work with our clients to provide the best experience possible.


Podcast 105 announce

A new episode of The Presentation Podcast is available today! Join Troy, Sandy and Nolan as they test PowerPoint Live Presentations, talk about their experience and things to be aware of when you use it). 

Listen on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud – or search The Presentation Podcast for “Presentation Live is Here!” or go direct to the episode page here:


Poll Everywhere’s LiveSlides is being Retired

Poll Everywhere is an audience response system (ARS) that we have used at TLC Creative for many years. LiveSlides is from the same company and it’s core mission was to “embed any website seamlessly in PowerPoint and Keynote slides,” which does very well.

I think it was mostly used for adding YouTube videos, social media feeds (which was a great option), interactive maps, and polling. It offers an impressive list of integrations where it can get content from all of these sites into PowerPoint slides:

Alas, Poll Everywhere has announced LiveSlides is being retired.

But for those of us that are Poll Everywhere users, it is not a bad announcement! The macOS version of Poll Everywhere already includes all of the LiveSlides features. The Windows version has some of the integrations and I am hopeful it will be built out to include them all as well.

More info at the Poll Everywhere website.

Troy @ TLC

PowerPoint Resource/Misc

PowerPoint Live: Personalized Subtitles for Every Viewer

As talked about in the  previous post, PowerPoint has two different options for displaying live transcription. One from PowerPoint, which displays a single selected language on the presentation screen, and another as part of the Presentation Live feature which adds the transcription to the viewers device, leaving the presenters slides clear of additional content.  This will likely never fully replace live spoken translators, but for remote meetings and audience joining in from virtually anywhere, it’s a fantastic alternative.

One amazing feature I only referenced in the earlier posts, is that every audience member has the ability to switch the transcription to the language of their choice. It is a very intuitive interface, just click the language button in the lower left (on a mobile device in portrait orientation) and choose from the list of 60+ languages.

One nice feature, that is a bit more hidden, is that if the audience member speaks the same language as the presenter, they may not want to have the transcription scrolling up as it repeats what the presenter is saying. Click the same language button and in the upper right is a toggle to turn the live transcription on or off.

Troy @ TLC

PowerPoint Resource/Misc

PowerPoint Subtitles (Different than Presentation Live Translation)

We are super excited about all the features included with Microsoft’s new release of PowerPoint Live Presentations; remote audience seeing your slides and hearing the presenter on their mobile device, seeing earlier slides, and – most impressive of all – live transcription of the presenter’s speech in the language choice of each viewer.

But the last item, live transcription, can be confusing. Presentation Live’s transcription is different than the existing PowerPoint Subtitles (which is also a live transcription feature).

I believe both services are powered by the same engine (which does a very good job, and is improving with expanded use). Here is the way I am describing each, and how they differ:

PowerPoint Subtitles – These display on the presenter’s slide in one selected language.

PowerPoint Live’s Live Transcription – These display on the screen of anyone logged in and viewing the presentation. They do not display on the presenter’s screen, because everyone can choose what language is displayed on their own screen.

Both features need access to the presenter’s microphone, and both have the ability to instantly translate into 60+ languages .


See the previous few posts for examples of Presentation Live’s live transcription. For the balance of this post, I am going to overview the PowerPoint Subtitles feature.

When you start a presentation with subtitles turned on, this info dialog greets you (same cartoon character styling as the Presentation Live QR Welcome screen)

Before the slide show starts, most of the subtitle settings can be accessed directly in the ribbon. After the slide show starts, clicking CHECK SETTINGS from the info dialog gives you another chance to set details for how the subtitles will display. As example, from the ribbon and check settings dialog, where the subtitle text will display can be set.

Click MORE SETTINGS (WINDOWS) and the Windows Closed Captions settings options opens (assuming you are running PowerPoint for Windows). This is a great clue that many of the new services are not exclusive to Office, but a collaboration among several Microsoft development teams.

And here is the sample presentation in slide show using the default “Below Slide” position. Note: I am not a fan of how this was implemented. The slide maintains the correct aspect ratio, is sized down to make room for 3 lines of subtitle text and leaves the unused area on the left and right as part of a thick black border. I understand my ideas for making this more eloquent require a lot of coding, but I cannot justify this simple approach as an onscreen display for a professional meeting. 

If I was to use PowerPoint subtitles in a professional meeting, I would have a template that integrates a clear area in the lower section and use the BOTTOM (OVERLAID) position. The slides would remain full screen, the sub-titles would have a branded area to display on, and the presenters would need to adhere to the clear area in their slide design.

The important point is, PowerPoint Subtitles and Presentation Live transcription are different features, display the translation in different locations, and can actually be used at the same time (I will leave it to you to experiment with that idea 🙂 ).

Troy @ TLC

PowerPoint Resource/Misc

PowerPoint Live Gotcha’s

PowerPoint Live is an amazing addition to presenting with PowerPoint. I am excited for the potential of this feature in use, especially with the sudden surge of online and remote meetings and conferences. As side note, just this week at TLC creative, a client conversation was about how to handle multiple languages for their meeting. At past, onsite events, there was translation booths at the back of the ballroom with translators providing live translation. But in the new virtual meeting world, this is a different process. I tossed out the idea that Microsoft’s new Presentation Live feature may be an option. Reading a transcription is not as powerful as translation, but PowerPoint Live is now a very easy-to-offer solution for a virtual meeting. No decision on this meeting yet, but this new feature has already made it into project conversations for me.

As great as PowerPoint Live is, there are many “gotchas” we have already discovered.

Setup and Logistics

You need to use an updated browser. Not only will Presentation Live not work, if you are the presenter, the option may not even be available. The official list of supported browsers is Microsoft Edge version 80+, Google Chrome version 72+, Mozilla Firefox version 68+, or Opera version 60+ on Windows or Mac. Currently Safari is not supported for presenters, but works fine for audience members.

The presenter must have a Microsoft 365 account, but the audience does not need a subscription, or need to be signed in to a Microsoft account to participate. But it’s not that easy.

There are two “share” options, my organization and anyone. The default setting for sharing a presentation is “Only People in my Organization.” This means anyone connecting to see the presentation will need to sign into their Microsoft 365 account to prove they are in the presenter’s organization. So much for the note about the audience does not even need a Microsoft account, now they need a Microsoft 365 account, with the same domain. 

To enable anyone, with or without a Microsoft account to watch the presentation, the presenter must change the audience option to “Anyone” (every time they start a presentation).

Running the Presentation

Presentations must run from PowerPoint Online. And PowerPoint Online has two options for the toolbar: Expanded Ribbon, which is more similar to the desktop app, and the Simplified Ribbon, which is a very streamlined set of options. The PRESENT LIVE button is in the SLIDE SHOW tab (which makes sense) on the Simplified Ribbon!

In the Expanded Ribbon, it’s more hidden. Go to the VIEW tab to find it.


When the presentation starts, you’ll see this Welcome Screen that allows audience members to join your presentation by just pointing their phone or tablet at the QR code (the process is easy and works flawlessly – even if I am not a fan of the cartoon like styling that does not align to my clients corporate style guide).

The slide show pop up tool bar has a new icon and options. Show the Welcome Screen again any time. Go to the Live Menu and select SHOW WELCOME SCREEN AGAIN.

You can also copy the URL link and send as a quick email or chat.

The audience has the option to send “Reactions”in real time while you are presenting (small emojis that float up on the presenter’s screen).

These only show up on the presenter’s screen. The audience viewing on their own devices do not see them. Of course, if the presenter is at a large meeting with the presentation on the screens, or if they are screen sharing their monitor, then everyone can see what you see, which includes the floating emojis. TIP: If you find the emoji reactions distracting or just don’t like seeing them, they can be turned off in the Live Menu (note that audience members can still send them; you just won’t see them).

Also important to note is the difference between pausing the presentation broadcast and ending the presentation session. You can pause the presentation any time you click away from PowerPoint. Pausing stops any animation and stops the live transcription. The presenter see this yellow band below the Ribbon:

The audience will see the last slide before the presentation was paused (so make it a good one!) and a notification that the presentation is paused.

ENDING a presentation clears the screen for anyone watching and the URL/QR code is no longer valid. The presenter needs to click the END SESSION button to truly end the presentation (vs. pause it). TIP: A presentation can be paused for 30 minutes, and then its broadcast auto-expires. There is also a countdown in the yellow notification bar. 

The Audience Perspective

Viewing a presentation on a cell phone can be portrait (vertical) or landscape (rotated to horizontal) orientation. We found  in landscape view, the transcription text seems finicky and does not always display on the screen.

One of the very exciting features is the ability for the audience to go back to a previous slide on their device, any time. Equally important is they cannot get ahead of the presenter and see upcoming slides. If the presenter goes back a few slides, everyone goes back a few slides. That slide is the ‘current slide’ no one can advance past, even if slides past it were shown earlier. When someone goes back to see an earlier slide, a CURRENT SLIDE button is active as a one click way to quickly get in sync with the presenter.

Warning: you may accidentally scare someone! Presentation Live tries to be helpful, but I feel showing the audience how many slides are in the deck may be a scare for some. As example, you have a sales deck of 400 slides, but the presentation is only using 20 of them. The audience sees the total number at 400 (and they fear a ‘death by PowerPoint’ meeting is happening)!

Also be aware, everyone will know where you are (sort of). Again, maybe this is a little too helpful. Presentation Live displays what your local time is (or is this the local time of the person viewing? – something I need to test). To me, this makes it easy for the audience to calculate how long you have been on each slide…

TIP: a mobile device screen is small. Good news, viewers can zoom in on the slides! Pinch to zoom is supported. 

Let everyone know they can turn off the transcription feature – they are in control of that. It is in the language selection dialog, on the audience interface, and they can turn off transcription.

Evaluations and feedback. Yes, every audience member is shown a Microsoft feedback form (no we cannot change its content – or styling – or turn it off). Don’t worry, Microsoft is not keeping your presentation evaluations. Presenters receive an email after the presentation with the feedback (see previous posts for an example). The Microsoft Forms are not kept on Microsoft servers for long, I believe under 10 days. 

Final Thoughts

Last, and perhaps the biggest question to those new to PowerPoint Live (oh wait, it’s brand new – that’s all of us!), is; what is ‘present live’? What is presentation live? What is PowerPoint Live Presentations? I feel Microsoft does an overall poor job in naming products (how many different services are called the same name; Skype, OneDrive, Office 365, Windows…). Maybe someone noticed this trend and decided to go in the opposite direction? Now we have 1 feature with three different names… For the record, the official name of the live presentation feature is PowerPoint Live Presentations, but it goes by the shorthand of PowerPoint Live. And ‘present live’ is the action you take to begin your live presentation.


Troy @ TLC