New Google Slides Features!

Google just released a couple amazing upgrades to Slides that I'm quite jazzed about!

The most noteable is a new integrated backchannel/audience participation tool they're calling "Q&A". Now, when you're presenting using Google Slides, you can display a short URL that audience members can access and submit questions while you're presenting. Audience members can see everyone's questions and vote up the questions they also want to hear answered!

As the presenter, you're able to see the questions at any time and how many votes each has received.

To access this tool, don't go hunting for it while you're in edit mode, you won't find it! Instead, when presenting, take a look at the presentation toolbar in the lower left corner of your screen and click on "Presenter view".

Once started, a URL will display at the top of each slide that audience members can access when they have questions to ask.

If you want to share a question with the whole audience, just click on the "PRESENT" button beneath the question and it will display, 

Thoughtful features of this tool include:
  1. The ability to resume a Q&A session if you've exited & re-entered presentation mode, or start a new Q&A session.
  2. Audience members can continue asking questions if you exit presentation mode.
  3. You can stop accepting questions at any time with the click of a button.
  4. The presenter can access their speaker notes through the Q&A tool as well.

There are 2 features that may or may not be good, depending on your perspective:
  1. Users can submit questions anonymously. If you have audience members who are shy, this is nice. However, students may choose to post inappropriate questions that all other users would be able to see...
  2. Users need to sign in to their Google accounts to submit questions. For students (or those without Google accounts) that can be a bummer.
The biggest negative I've encountered so far is that it appears that if you create a presentation using an Enterprise Google account (i.e. your school account), people outside your organization cannot submit/access the questions. I've tried making my presentation public, but this still appears to be the case. I feel like I must be missing something, as this is a HUGE limitation, so I will continue to research this issue and post an update if I figure out a solution!

UPDATE 5/5/16 - Turns out you CAN let people outside your organization submit questions. In the "Presenter View" window, go to "Audience tools" and change "Accepting questions from..."

This new feature is pretty great!

Check out the video below to see Q&A in action!

Another new feature of Google Slides is that you can now present your Slides through a Google Hangout. This could have great potential for Blended Learning applications!

Finally, Google also released a laser pointer feature that allows you to use your mouse cursor like a laser pointer when presenting. This too is accessible through presentation mode. See it in action below.

What do you think of these new features? How will you use them with students and staff?


  1. Hi Anna,

    Nice write up of the new features in Slides. In order to be able to accept Questions from users outside of your Google Apps domain, the Google Apps administrator needs to allow "External sharing" within the Google Drive settings. This setting can be adjusted on an Organizational Unit basis, so teachers could be provided the ability to share outside of the domain while preventing students from doing so.

    Hope this helps

    1. Interesting! I thought our domain was set that way. I will investigate! Thanks so much for the tip.

    2. I figured it out - turns out it was hiding in plain site and is part of the Q&A presenter. Check out the edit in my post on where it's "hiding". :)

  2. This comment has been removed by the author.

  3. If we are using slides through a school managed Google Drive, do they need to do something to allow us to see this option? I have been looking anxiously for this and I haven't seen it. Thanks for the awesome article!

    1. You access it through presentation mode. When you present, do you not see the option in the lower left corner in your presentation controls? See screenshot in my article...

    2. That was where I looked after I saw it on the screen shot and we don't have that option right now. We have a gear, slide change buttons, a gear, and exit. No presentation mode option.

  4. The feature is being rolled out over a few days. I did not see it until late this morning, so it may take a little while.

    1. Thanks so much! I will just keep checking then!

  5. I would really like to be able to disable the anonymous question option, especially when dealing with students. Any idea if Google is working on that?

    1. Alas, not that I know of, but your question helped me figure out how to allow people outside of your organization submit questions, so thanks! See the update in the blog post for details and a screenshot...


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