Waiting for Google Slides to Save Us

By on March 19, 2018

Is it just me, or in the last few years has the debate regarding Keynote vs. PowerPoint waned? Maybe it’s because we all have bigger things to worry about these days. Or maybe it’s because anyone who really cares chose a side a long time ago. Or maybe it’s because the two products have grown similar and there’s been a huge improvement recently in how smoothly Keynote converts to PowerPoint.


While no one may be getting into a knife fight over PowerPoint vs. Keynote, there is still clearly a need for a robust cross-platform solution that doesn’t require any software package and allows for true collaboration and sharing.


And so, even though it’s been around for years, Google Slides is really picking up steam. As Google tells us, “With Google Slides, you can create, edit, collaborate and present wherever you are. For Free.” You can even import your existing PowerPoint presentation into Google Slides. Think about it: no more worrying about who on your team has Keynote versus PowerPoint (and which software release), or saving a dozen versions of your presentation and emailing them back and forth to your co-workers.


If you haven’t tried Google Slides, give it a shot: it’s really easy to use and great for collaboration. With nothing to install, nothing to buy and nothing to download, what could be better?


Well … a lot, as it turns out. I like Google Slides, but there’s a long way to go.


Many independent reviews of Google Slides will tell you that it’s “rather limited” in its design capabilities, which is a bit like saying that we Philadelphia Eagle fans were “rather pleased” to have won the Super Bowl. Of course, I work for an ad agency, so the steep design, transition and animation shortcomings of Google Slides might not be a big deal for everyone, but it’s an issue for many of us in marketing.


Also, while you can import your PowerPoint deck into Google Slides, my experience is that it’s often a messy process. Even if you change the aspect ratio in Google Slides to more closely match your PowerPoint, you’re likely in for some serious formatting work (tip: if you get an error while trying to import your PowerPoint into Google Slides, it’s likely a problem with a video or animation in the PowerPoint deck, so try taking it out of the presentation and re-inserting it after the conversion to Google Slides).


Lastly, Google Slides doesn’t play with Keynote at all, so if you’re using Keynote you have to be in the import/export business: that is, export the Keynote to PowerPoint and then import that PowerPoint into Google Slides.


My hope is that over the next year we’ll see Google Slides become more robust and close the gap. Until then, I’m happy to make you a presentation in Keynote.


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