TL;DR version: This post explains everything you'll need to know about using Google Presentations to share, collaborate, and present your materials online from anywhere. Scroll down to the bottom to view the video screencast of these materials.
I’ve mentioned several times on this blog that my goal is to work with a device agnostic policy that allows ubiquitous access to my files. This means that I mostly write in the cloud, using tools like Google Apps and Evernote. I never use Microsoft Office anymore, and most of all do not use PowerPoint. There are many reasons why I stopped using PowerPoint, and most of these center on the way I use my presentations.
Statement of the problem
Remember the “good old days” when you would make a great PowerPoint, bring the PPT file on your computer to the talk or class on your computer. You always would print out the slides for people that might be interested in following along with your talk on paper because they cannot read the screen. You emailed your PPT file to a couple people in the audience that were interested in having a copy of your slides. After a couple of years of this you evolved and uploaded your slides to SlideShare or Scribd to allow individuals outside of your presentation to view your materials. And then when you found an error in one of your slides…or changed material from one year to the next…you needed to fix the PPT file and re-upload this to the Internet.
Another issue I’ve had with PowerPoint is that I often need to collaborate with colleagues on a presentation. I would start the PPT file and email it to a colleague. We would add our materials and send the file back and forth using different naming mechanisms. After three or four revisions we had absolutely no clue which was the last version. By the time we made it to the presentation the videos embedded in the presentation didn’t work because we forgot to link them to the flash-drive and not the work computer. Then once we actually got to the presentation, the events from the previous paragraph ensue. This is not the way that creation and sharing of presentation materials should work. My solution for this is Google Presentation.
Getting started with Google Presentation
Google Presentation is a free PowerPoint clone that is part of Google Apps. If you have gMail or a Google Account then you can use Google Presentation for free. One confusing piece of Google Presentation is that you’ll either see it online called “Presenter” or “Presentation” or “Slides.” To avoid any confusion, sign in to Google Drive, click on the red “Create” button, and then click on “Presentation.” This will create a new Google Presentation for you.
You are given the opportunity to pick a theme. Recent updates to Presentation now include widescreen slides and the opportunity to create and edit your own templates. After you select a theme, click on the top left where it says “Untitled presentation” and name your file. You’ll be able to find and share this file later when you log back in to Google Drive.
While in the editing mode, the interface looks familiar if you’ve used Microsoft Powerpoint. You can insert new slides, add images, video, and text. Video that is hosted on YouTube works very well. You can select from six different slide layouts as well as re-order the slides in your presentation.
The secret sauce is the ability to share and collaborate
To access the privacy and sharing settings with others while revising your Presentation click on the blue “Share” button on the top right corner. The “Sharing settings” dialog box will pop up on your screen. You’ll see a link to share your file with others. You’ll also see the privacy settings and your collaborators underneath where it says “Who has access.” To add collaborators you will need to enter their email address below where it says “Invite people:.” The challenge is that you need to make sure you use the email address they use for Google Apps. Once you give them access, you can change whether they are allowed to view, comment, or edit the file.
To change the privacy settings click on the blue “Change…” link to the right of “Private.” “Public on the web” will allow anyone to search for your Presentation. “Anyone with the link” makes your Presentation available to others, but you have to give them the specific link…people can’t search for it. “Private” means that it is totally locked down to people you give access to. I typically will chose the “Anyone with the link” setting. This allows me to share a link, or embed the file in a website or blog and allow people to view it. Click on save when you’re finished editing all of your sharing settings.
Sharing your Google Presentation
To share your work you can log in to Google Drive, find your Presentation and click on “Present” in the top right corner. I also like to embed the file on my website or blog. To do this click on “File”, and then “Publish to the web.” In this dialog box you’ll find a link to share and the embed code. Paste the embed code in to your website or blog and people can access your materials online. The nice thing is that if you edit the file…it automatically is revised anywhere else you have it linked or embedded.
Google Presentation has proven to be a killer app for me. I cannot live without the ability to collaborate in real-time with colleagues. I also value the ability to share my presentation with students and immediately give them access. I don’t worry about changes that I have to make over time since it all edits immediately. Finally, the Presentation materials look great when using a Chromebook, iPad, iOs device (iPhone), or Android device. This is helpful when I need to present on the road, or students view materials on a mobile device. Google Presentation works for me…I think you should try it also.
To view a screencast tutorial of this post, please view below.
Image CC by powtoon