Audience nodding off? Google Slides adds Q&A, laser pointer to keep them hooked

Presenters using Slides can now run Q&A sessions with audiences as a talk is being delivered.

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Google Slides Q&A feature aims to help speakers connect with audiences and collect real-time feedback.

Image: Google

Google has introduced a new Q&A feature to Slides that lets members of an audience submit questions to the speaker, a new laser-pointer option and screen-sharing improvements for iOS.

The Q&A feature is part of the presentation view in Slides, which displays a link to the audience that they can use to submit questions from their smartphones or laptops during a presentation.

The speaker can then choose whether or not to present the question to the audience, while the audience can vote up or vote down questions, helping show which questions the group want answered the most.

As Google notes, Q&A is designed to help speakers connect with their audience and collect real-time feedback. It also does away with the need for microphones, wires or moderators to handle Q&A sessions.

The advantage for audience members is that they can submit questions as they come up rather than having to save them for the end of a presentation.

Google also highlights that it may encourage greater participation among audience members who are too shy to stand up and ask a question. There is also an option to submit questions anonymously.

The voting system could be helpful for the speaker, particularly if there are lots of questions, allowing the speaker to focus on answering the highest-voted ones.

Google trialled Q&A at a talk given by Shree Bose, a senior at Harvard University who's been recognised for achievements in science. At the end of the presentation to 200 middle school students, Bose had been asked 170 questions. She sorted questions by votes and only answered the top ones.

The feature is rolling out globally for Slides on Android, iOS and the web. Google notes Slides Q&A only works for those who have edit or comment access to a Slides presentation.

One feature that's just for the web is a new laser-pointer option that virtualizes a real laser pointer. If a presentation is being cast to another screen, the speaker can opt to display a red dot on the presentation screen that trails the movements of a mouse on the speaker's presentation device.

Finally, it's now possible to present slides to a Hangout from an iPhone or iPad using Chromecast, AirPlay or Hangouts.