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How to make your Google Slides shows pop, in 4 easy steps

Find a dynamite (and free!) template, kick things up a notch with video, wrap your head around animations, and more with these Google Slides tips.

How to make your Google Slides shows pop, in 4 easy steps
[Image: NeoLeo/iStock]
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If you’re like most folks who spend their working days living inside presentation software, you probably spend hours and hours on the content itself and mere minutes on the actual look and feel of your deck.

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And while content is king, a little polish and pizzazz go a long way. These quick tips for Google Slides take mere minutes to implement, but they’ll make your content shine.

Start with a template

Your show has substance. Now give it a little style with an eye-catching template. There are several to choose from within Google’s own template gallery but the selection is a bit limited.

One spot to check out is Slides Carnival, which houses a ton of free templates for both Google Slides and Microsoft PowerPoint that can be sorted by color and style. I’m using the excellent Green Circuit template for this article.

Using a template with Slides is as simple as clicking the “Use as Google Slides theme” button, which then opens it up as a presentation inside your Google Slides account.

Spice things up with videos

If a picture is worth a thousand words, a snippet of video ought to leave your audience’s heads spinning (in a good way, of course). Fortunately, Slides makes it just about as painless as can be to insert a YouTube video into your presentation.

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In the top menu bar, click Insert > Video. Next, either search for something on YouTube or click the “By URL” tab to load up a specific video via its link. You can also grab your own custom videos by uploading them to your Google Drive storage first and then using the “Google Drive” tab.

Once you’ve gotten your video inserted into your slide, resize it and position it how you like and take a look at the “Format options” panel on the right.

From here, you can select whether you want the video to play automatically, when you click somewhere on the slide, or when you click its play button. You can also choose to play a certain section of the video using the “Start at:” and “End at:” boxes. And if you’re planning on talking over the video you selected, make sure to check the “Mute audio” box.

Add some motion with transitions and animations

Keep your audience engaged by adding a little life to your slides. Click Slide > Transition to open up the Motion panel; from there, you can choose how your slides blend together when you click from one to the next, and you can animate a slide’s individual elements like images and text.

Now, transitions are straightforward enough. Under the “Slide Transition” section, simply choose the transition you’d like to use, decide whether to apply it to the slide you’re on or to all slides, and then click the Play button to see what it’ll look like.

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Animations are a little more tricky, especially if you’re going to be animating multiple elements on a slide.

Let’s say we’re going to have the slide’s title fly in from the left. First, select the title, choose “Add animation” from the Motion panel, and select “Fly in from left” from the dropdown.

By default, you’ll need to actually click the slide to make the animation happen. That’s no good, especially when you’re presenting and have your mind on other things. So in the dropdown that says “On click” choose “After previous” instead to make the title fly in when the slide loads.

Now let’s animate a second element, say, an image. Select it, click “Add animation,” and select the animation—let’s use “Fade in” here. Again, it’ll default to “On click,” but you can change that to either “After previous” to make it wait until the title is done flying in or “With previous” to fade it in at the same time.

If you’ve got your animations set up to appear in sequence instead of at the same time, you can reorder them by dragging the objects in the Motion panel up or down. It’s a great feature if you’ve got a lot of complicated, multistep animations to deal with.

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Embed your presentation online

Once you’re ready to share your perfectly pruned presentation with the rest of the world, it’s easy to embed it on your website or blog.

Just click file, “Publish to the web,” and then select the “Embed” tab. Once that’s done, select a size, how frequently to advance the slides, and then whether to start the slideshow automatically or have it loop.

Finally, click the yellow Publish button to get the embed code that you can copy and paste into your site. Done! Your masterpiece is now available for everyone to enjoy.