7 Google Slides Features for Engaging Presentations


Putting together a professional slideshow can be daunting if you don’t feel creative or artistic. But that doesn’t mean you can’t deliver an engaging and successful presentation. Google Slides offers features that will help you design an engaging slideshow.

Apply image effects

One or two of your images may need a little sparkle. Google Slides has shadow and reflection features that can give your image or photo just the right touch.

Select your image and choose “Format Options” from the toolbar. When the sidebar opens, check the box for the drop shadow or reflection. Then expand this section to adjust transparency, distance, angle or size.

Shadow and Reflection in Format Options

These options allow you to enhance ordinary images.

How to Add Audio to Google Slides

Crop an image to give it shape

Another way to make an image stand out is to crop it to give it shape. This is called using a mask in Google Slides.

Select your image and click the Image Mask arrow associated with the Crop Image button in the toolbar. Click Shapes, Arrows, Imprint, or Equation to see the shapes available in the drop-down menu.

Masking Image Options

Then just click on the shape you want to use. You will see that your image is cropped to fit the shape.

Hidden image

To make additional adjustments to the image, select “Format Options” from the toolbar. You can change the size, rotation, position, brightness or contrast.

Place text in front of an image

For things like a title slide, section divider, or conclusion, you might want a unique look. You can place text in front of (or even behind) an image.

With your image and text on the slide, move the text box above the image. If the text appears behind the image, select the box and go to the Layout tab.

Text behind an image

Choose the Order option and select either “Bring to Front” to place the text box above all items on the slide, or “Bring to Front” to place the text box one level above.

Layout Options

This option lets you create a different look or save space, and it works well for welcome, transition, or recap slides.

Shorten long videos

If you want to include a video in your slideshow but cut it to show only part of the clip, you can do that directly in Google Slides.

Select your video and click “Format Options” on the toolbar. When the sidebar opens, expand Video Playback.

Video playback settings

If you know the exact times you want to use, enter them in the Start and End boxes. You will then only see that part of the video when you play it in the presentation.

Video start and end times

If you’re not sure of the times, tap Play in the video preview in the sidebar. When you reach where you want to start the video, pause playback and click “Use current time” under the “Start at” box. Then do the same for the end time on the right.

Use current time to start

You can then play the video on your slide to make sure the timing is correct or adjust it further in the sidebar. If necessary, you can check the “Mute Audio” box.

Insert a table or graph

Slideshows are primarily visual. So, if you want to present data, using a table or graph is a good way to do it. If you have a chart in Google Sheets that you want to use, you can simply insert it. You can also create a chart from scratch.

Select the slide where you want to insert the chart. Go to Insert > Chart and choose a chart type to create one or “From Sheets” to import one.

Chart options on the Insert menu

If you’re creating your own chart, you’ll see sample data when you insert the chart. Use the arrow at the top right to choose “Open Source”.

Open source to access chart data

Google Sheets opens with the sample data in a new tab. Then you just need to add your own data.

Chart data in Sheets

Return to the Google Slides tab and update the chart using the “Update” button. You will then see your updated chart.

Updated chart in slides

From here you can, for example, resize the graphic, add text or a title or apply a border. For a full tutorial on creating a chart in Google Slides, check out our how-to.

Position elements on the slide using guides

To ensure that your images, videos, text, shapes, and other elements are placed correctly on the slide, you can use the built-in guides.

Go to View, scroll down to Guides, and choose “Show Guides”. You will see horizontal and vertical lines appear that will help you align your elements perfectly.

Show Guides with Show Guides

To make the alignment of the elements on the guides even better, you can add a snap. Go back to View, switch to Snap To, then choose “Guides”.

Snap To guide options

Once you’ve enabled the second feature, you’ll see red horizontal and vertical lines appear as you drag your item across the slide. You can then release the item once it lines up with these indicators.

Align to guide lines

For more details on using guides in Google Slides, see our tutorial.

Use subtle slide transitions

Rather than jumping from one slide to another abruptly, consider using subtle transitions. You can apply a fade, dissolve, or other effect for a smoother transition from one slide to the next.

Select a slide to start; you can easily apply the transition to all slides later. Click “Transition” in the toolbar. When the sidebar opens, expand the section under Slide Transition.

Use the drop-down list to choose an effect. You will see dissolving, fading, sliding, flipping effects, etc.

Slide transition options in Google Slides

After choosing an effect, tap “Play” at the bottom of the sidebar to see a preview. You can also adjust the speed of the transition using the slider.

Adjustments for a slide transition

To use the transition throughout your presentation, click “Apply to all slides”. When you’re done, just close the sidebar. When you play your slideshow, you’ll see this attractive transition between slides.

With tools to enhance images, remove unnecessary video content, and replace data with visuals, consider these Google Slides features for your next presentation.

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