If you’re already a Google super-user, switching from PowerPoint to Google Slides might make sense. But what features can you expect to gain and lose?
Google is everywhere. It’s in your living room, adjusting your thermostat and playing your favourite jams the moment you prefix its name with a cursory “OK”. It’s all up in your search, your YouTube and your shared documents. And increasingly, it’s in your slides. With the exodus of enterprise users from the desktop to the cloud showing no signs of abating, Google Slides is a viable proposition for all your presentation needs – or some of them at least.
Be it due to convenience, cost or integration, there are numerous reasons why Slides looks like an enticing option. And it is, but before you bid goodbye to PowerPoint once and for all and catch the last train out of Microsoftville, there are a few things to consider. We’re not looking to dissuade you from using Google Slides – far from it – but we do believe you should make an informed decision. There are pros and cons to using Slides and we’ll pick these apart in forensic detail during the remainder of this article. By the time we’re done, you’ll be an expert on what’s great and what’s not so great about Google’s slide-building cloud software.
The case for using Google Slides
On first inspection, there’s a lot to love about Slides. It’s free, accessible anywhere and requires no software installation. Presentations are automatically saved and instantly shareable. You can be up and running in a matter of seconds and if you’ve used Google Docs or Spreadsheets, you’ll already be familiar with the controls. Slides might be a different car, but it’s running the same engine.
Although real time collaboration has now been added to PowerPoint, Google are the kings of collaboration with their cloud-based software that allows multiple users to edit the same document without tripping over one another. Content generated in PowerPoint can be opened with Slides, so it’s not as if your previous presentations become redundant the moment you switch to the dark side. Slides can also be embedded into websites, so it’s great for sharing your wisdom with the web rather than just the boardroom. So that’s the good stuff – or at least some of it – that marks Slides out as being worthy of investigation. Now let’s turn the tables and consider the not so good stuff.
The case against using Google Slides
As a multi-purpose, user-friendly, consumer and enterprise-friendly piece of software, Google Slides is designed for everyone. While it’s great that little Jenny can use Slides to create her Primary 5 project, advanced PowerPoint users may find themselves craving something more substantial. The minimalism of Google’s cloud-based software comes at the expense of advanced features, the sort that are built into paid, professional tools such as PowerPoint. Some of the potential drawbacks to using Slides might not affect you, like the fact that you need an internet connection for it to function. Ten years ago, that might have been an issue. Today, you’d be hard-pressed to find a corner of the world that doesn’t have WiFi or a 4G signal at least that will allow you to tether your laptop and get online. Similarly, there can’t be many people left in the world who don’t have a Google account which is a requisite for creating and editing presentations using Slides.
There are other areas however where Slides simply can’t compete with PowerPoint, Prezi et al. With Google Slides, you’re powerless to adjust theme colours or to embed video; YouTube is all you’ve got. As for the fancy effects – annotations, 3D, reflections – forget it. You’re also limited when it comes to animations, transitions, music and typefaces. That’s just a small selection of the things Slides won’t let you do. There’s also far less scope for customisation when it comes to matters such as creating different shaped text boxes, aligning objects and merging shapes. You’ll also lose certain transitions and animations when converting from PowerPoint to Slides.
If you’re approaching Google Slides afresh, without years of using PowerPoint behind you, you won’t even notice many of these missing features. You’ll happily work with what you’ve got in Slides because it’s all you’ve ever known. It’s certainly true that despite being stripped of PowerPoint’s more advanced features, Slides still makes it easy to create professional looking presentations. Most of the time you can get by just fine without the ability to download custom fonts or to set textbox placeholders to ALL CAPS. For the many business users who have grown used to these features, however, Slides simply doesn’t cut it. It’s fine for throwing together presentations when you’re on the road or at a different workstation, but Google Slides is unlikely to become your go-to presentation software.
Google slides – yes or no?
The diplomatic answer as to whether or not you should use Google Slides is “It all depends”. While the PowerPoint purists are unlikely to be swayed anytime soon, casual users should require little coaxing to jump ship. While there’s nothing to stop you from switching between the two as your needs and options dictate, you’d be advised to edit PowerPoint presentations only in PowerPoint and vice-versa. Sure, you can open PowerPoint documents in Slides, but don’t be surprised to find elements you laboured over hours earlier mysteriously gone or altered. If you’re gonna work with Google Slides, work with it from the first slide to the last.
Here at Buffalo 7, we remain committed to making PowerPoint our workhorse but we’re not tied to any single piece of software; if a presentation looks good, it looks good, regardless of how it was created. As for Google Slides, to misquote a famous line, we disapprove of what you use but will defend to the death your right to use it. In all seriousness though, it really comes down to what works best for you. If you’re all up in Google’s ecosystem, working with Slides may be the simplest option. Otherwise, stick with what you know, and save Slides for emergencies only. It’s your presentation and your call.