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Five Hacks for Google Slides

by Miguel Guhlin
hacks for Google Slides

“What’s my favorite G Suite for Education tool?” asked a Google Educator Level 1 session participant. “Google Slides. You can do so much with it!” said another. Slides offers many exciting features that make it a versatile assistant for educators. In this blog entry,  let’s take a look at five Google Slides hacks you may find useful. These may deepen your appreciation for Google Slides and increase your productivity.

Note: Curious about what else TCEA bloggers have shared about Google Slides? Explore this rich collection of suggestions, handy tips, and more.

Jumpin’ Jack Slides

“I’m so tired, today felt like being stuck in a crossfire hurricane,” said a friend. At the time, I missed the reference. Classrooms can be tumultuous. The right slide deck can dazzle, amaze, and engage learners of any age. Many agree that a potent message is key. The TED Talks blog lists ten tips worth reviewing. The fifth tip from that list provides our first hack.

Hack #1 – Enhance with Pictures

“Use photos that enhance meaning,” says Aaron Weyenberg (Director,  TED). That seems obvious, right? Aaron encourages us to focus on message first, then to select images that enhance. When I create my Google Slides, I find myself crafting my message and looking for images at the same time. Aaron’s more measured approach involves finding images AFTER the message.

Let’s say that you have gathered your images into a folder. Now you have ahead of you the repetitive task of inserting those images and adding words. What if there was an easier way?

Matt Miller and Alice Keeler suggest there is. Use the Drive Slides Chrome extension. This extension makes it easy to create a Google Slides presentation. Here’s how:

  1. Store images for an upcoming presentation in your Google Drive folder in JPG, PNG, or GIF format.
  2. Open your images folder in Google Drive.
  3. Click the DriveSlides icon. You will see several prompts to click through (most about permissions).
  4. DriveSlides will create a Google Slides slidedeck, inserting your images for you.
  5. Customize your Slides slide deck theme, shuffling slides with pre-loaded images around.

One observation I made while DriveSlides worked: I had named each image (e.g. Slide 1, Slide 2) with a vague hope. The hope was that DriveSlides would place the images in the order I wanted. That’s not the way it worked. The image placement on slides appeared random. One of the creators (Alice Keeler and Matt Miller) of Drive Slides has made a video walkthrough. Check it out.

Hack #2 – Use Speaker Notes

“Why don’t you attend Dale Carnegie’s public speaking workshop?” suggested my dad. He had seen my last presentation, one where I felt compelled to read from my notes. A short time later, at seventeen, I put Dale Carnegie’s presentation strategies to work. With those strategies in mind, I thought I had to present without notes. Of course, I was wrong. In time, I learned to rely on slide notes. You can, too.

When presenting now, I use a combination of engaging images that trigger my memory. Slide notes assist me when trying to remember key facts, research, and details. Use slide notes in Google Slides to assist your memory.

Take advantage of a few Chrome extensions to enrich the Slide Notes experience. For example:

  • SlideSpeech: It converts your slide notes into audio narration for each of the slides. This narrated slide show is available for viewing via the SlideSpeech mobile apps.
  • Auto Resize Speaker Notes: Allows you to resize the slide previews. To do this, resize the Speaker Notes or selec a size via the sidebar. See the effect of auto resize in the image below.

slides hacks

Explore how you can use speaker notes to provide instructions to students.

Hack #3 – Type with Your Voice

Did you know you can dictate text into Slides’ speaker notes section? This could be a time saver for you rather than typing up everything you know.

slides hacks

To do this, follow these simple instructions for English dictation:

  • Turn on your microphone.
  • Use voice typing (Go to Tools then select Voice type speaker notes).
  • Use voice commands to edit and format your text.

Adding speaker notes has never been easier. Give it a try!

Hack #4 – Create a Hyperlinked Slide Deck

Did you know you could create a hyperlinked slideshow? This is a slideshow for which you have created some form of navigation. Navigation might appear as a table of contents that you click on to jump around the slide deck.

Eric Curts (@ericcurts), Control-Alt-Achieve Blog, shares a rich variety of examples. You can find my curated list online. Want some different examples? Check out Rex Threatt’s interactive worksheets video tutorial.

Hoping for a classroom application? Aside from choose your own adventure or interactive worksheets, consider the use of hyperlinked slides as an easy way to create self-guided presentations a la hyperdocs. Find more ideas.

Hack #5 – Add Audio to Your Slides

One of my favorite PowerPoint features enables me to insert audio recordings. In Google Slides, the only way to put audio in was to insert a YouTube video.

With the Audio Player for Slides, you can insert audio per slide. As you can see from the screen shots below, you can add audio to each slide. Put your audio files in MP3 format in Google Drive.

A quick classroom application? Ask students to add audio reflections that explain a slide; this can boost classroom learning.

Five Hacks for Google Slides

These Google Slides hacks depend on a few Chrome extensions. Give these a try to make how you use Google Slides more engaging. And, since you’ve stuck this long with this blog entry, why don’t you give the Insert icons for Slides add-on a try? You get 1800+ free icons you can use in Google Slides.

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Patricia Startz February 1, 2019 - 1:38 pm

This is great Miguel, is it ok to put it into a .pdf and share with my teachers?

Miguel Guhlin February 2, 2019 - 7:39 pm

Always, Pat! And, check out and share



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