Bethany Auck, a Presentation and Visual Communication Expert, is the Founder and Creative Director of presentation agency SlideRabbit and the current president of the Presentation Guild. She has been helping clients communicate clearly and visually for over a decade. Initially in the courtroom and later in boardrooms, training facilities, and international conferences, Bethany works with her clients and their content to create narrative and visual interest where there were once only bullet points. Bethany founded SlideRabbit in 2012 to bring high-quality presentation design to every industry. SlideRabbit's presentation design and production services bring high-level creative value to everything from slide creation to complex animations and interactive infographics.

In this episode, we talk about Google Slides, PowerPoint, and their differences. Furthermore, Bethany gives us a lot of practical advice about both tools and about transferring content between them.

PowerPoint, Google Slides - what is going on there

Bethany states that even before the pandemic, it was becoming clear that some large, more conservative types of clients, were moving to Google Slides. The ease of collaboration is the chief reason for it. For several people to jump to а document at the same time with ease is a huge plus.

Moreover, Google Workspace is more accessible for people from different backgrounds, and many end up using it also because it is free.

As students enter the workforce, we have a mass of people more comfortable with Google Workspace than Microsoft Office. Both companies spend a lot of money on education, and that students get used to them makes a huge difference for both.

Nonetheless, we have heard about a few PowerPoint killers, and we have yet to see one. Bethany points out that Google Slides and PowerPoint might seem similar, but they are very different tools.

The collaboration feature in Google Slides

If you are looking for a presentation tool and collaboration – Google Slides is the default option, as it nailed that feature years ago. “It is the most powerful part of Google Slides,” Bethany tells us.

If you work in Office online with a document in collaboration – it is possible, but Google Slides has made it much more intuitive and natural, even just for editing. It has been doing that for quite a while, so it is way ahead in terms of multiple user editing space and simultaneous collaboration.

Everyone can be in the same file and edit live without anyone experiencing any slow down or lag. You can even work on the same slide and make comments on the side, or you can see it all happening live on the slides. You can add comments to any element and tag any of the content stakeholders to review or design the content simultaneously as you edit.

Versioning in Google Slides

Instead of sending versions back and forth and addressing things in rounds, you can do it live. And the best part of that is the versioning Google Slides has.

We have the usual file naming systems – you make versions of the file and number them – V1, V2… In Slides, file versioning is a small panel that you open, and it is fantastic because it is very detailed. You can see when the changes were made and who the editors were that made them.

Besides, you do not have to restore the entire version; instead, you can make a copy and selectively restore the items you want.

Comparing Google Slides and PowerPoint

Bethany says that the biggest mistake you can make is assuming that they are the same product. They are not.

Google Slides does not handle placeholders or layouts well. You do not have placeholders for images or charts in it; they can only hold text. That can be an issue. You do not have these handy tools to snap everything quickly into place.

Furthermore, when PowerPoint introduces a new feature, it creates a walkthrough for you, whereas Slides does not. If a feature is added in Slides, you find it by accident. The only place where they publish updates is the Workspace Updates, where you may filter it by the tool.

Google Slides' missing features

The main flaw of Slides, Bethany says, is the lack of image placeholders. Clients complain about them when they use a template. It is easier to pop in whatever you like in a placeholder. They have to do a manual crop every time in Slides.

The animation features are another example. The animation in Google Slides is very simplistic. There are no motion paths, and if you transfer from PowerPoint, animation can fail to translate in Google Slides.

Microsoft PowerPoint to Google Slides compatibility

Bethany points out that it has gotten better. For instance, if you import in Slides from PowerPoint – your custom colors will come up now.

Your custom fonts will come up if they are part of Google Fonts. If they are not, the Google Font bot will identify a similar Google Font and replace it for you. That is a benefit, but it is also a disadvantage because you cannot transfer a branding font that is not on Google Fonts.

Native PowerPoint shapes and icons also will translate, but graphs will not; graphs transform into pictures. According to Bethany, you can break your graphs apart and import them as shapes. They will no longer be data-driven, but the graph layout will remain.

Converting Google Slides to PowerPoint

You can download PPTX files from Google Slides, and that the transfer is a little cleaner. Transferring from a simple to a more complex tool is smoother.

Is Excel supported in both?

Google Slides supports Google Sheets, so in a way – yes.

Working with Sheets could be frustrating due to the difference in formulas, so making a switch from Excel can be challenging. And for example, in Sheets, you can use only about 12 fonts for a graph. In Bethany’s opinion, that is a strange choice, and if you try to brand out a deck, it is inconvenient.

Additionally, if you pull a graph from Sheets, you cannot change it in Slides as it converts into an image. All the formatting and design must be done in Sheets beforehand, kind of blindly.

With Excel and PowerPoint, however, this is not the case. “We didn’t even know how good we had it [in PowerPoint] till we go to Slides,” Bethany says.

If you are working with data, non-data-driven graphs with forms like pie and donut charts are the best way to go. Line and bar graphs are also simple to create. However, if you have complex data or frequently update your data, this can be an issue.

More Google Slides features

If you link a slide in a Google Doc and then alter it, it will be updated a second or two later in the doc, which is convenient.

For sharing settings, Google Slides has three main sharing options – viewer, commenter, or editor. Bethany says that they are getting granular with the controls over who can do what and where they can comment.

Taking a hybrid approach

Many people pair Slides with PowerPoint, so why not try a hybrid approach? Try having the best of both tools.

There is no reason not to try Google Slides, according to Bethany. It could be quite advantageous because the transition from Slides to PowerPoint is not nearly as difficult. You would be able to collaborate with ease and can pull out a PPTX file without much effort.

Resources

Contact Bethany at hello@sliderabbit.com. Check out her agency SlideRabbit’s Presentation Services, or find her on her personal LinkedIn. You can also find the Presentation Guild here.

Listen to the full episode!