Creating a presentation from scratch takes a lot of time. You have to design the layout variations, make sure the fonts and design elements are well-chosen, and that all the slides work together as a cohesive presentation set—with an appealing style.
But, by using a quality, predesigned presentation theme, you’re capable of saving all that initial design time. Now, you can begin with a single focus: to jump right into customizing the content, imagery and colors of your presentation, instead of designing slide layouts from scratch.
Themes (also known as templates) exist for the commonly used presentation software like PowerPoint, Keynote, or alternatively Google Slides. You can use Google Slides themes to build beautiful presentations fast.
In this tutorial, we cover how to build a great presentation (both visually as well as content-wise) with Google Slides. The workflow we’re using begins with the quick starting point of an existing Google Slides presentation theme. Let’s learn more about Google Slides and then walk through each step of the customization process.
You might wonder, what does Google Slides offer in comparison to PowerPoint or Keynote?
Google Slides shines when it comes to collaboration with multiple people simultaneously to build a presentation.
It’s a web-based tool, with a paired-down, simpler interface to use. This helps you to design a cleaner, more focused presentation. Your design options are more limited, but unlike the other tools, there are no endless bells and whistles to spice up your presentation with. Endless options tends to just waste time. Also, too many effects or animation lead to distracting viewers from your presentation content.
Google Slides is an ideal tool if you want to create a clean presentation, with a focus on your content, and do so quickly—without fuss.
In case you haven’t purchased PowerPoint or don’t have a Mac with Keynote, you can use Google Slides instead. It’s freely accessible as long as you have a Google account, which you can create for free as well.
Learn more about how Google Slides compares to PowerPoint and Keynote in this Envato Tuts+ article:
If you’re still doubtful about Google Slides, give it a shot by following the tutorial below. It’s a simple to follow workflow and an easy way to learn more about this presentation tool. Without further ado, let’s get going!
1. Setting Up the Theme
For the design of this presentation, I’ll be using Hipster, a Google Slides theme with a strong focus on imagery (shown below):
Or, take a look at the article below, it’s a curation collection of our favorite Google Slide themes:
Depending on the type of presentation you want to create, you can find different theme designs to suit your needs. Also, note that even without finding a theme exactly the way you’d like, it’s still easy to customize it to your needs, as you’ll discover next.
Step 1. Importing the Theme
Once you have downloaded the theme, you’ll notice that there’s a PowerPoint file. Even if you don’t have PowerPoint, there’s nothing to worry about.
Open Google Slides and start with an Empty presentation. When you click on the File menu, you have the ability to Import slides. In this menu, you can select a file. Select the main PowerPoint file (the Hipster presentation file in this case) and start uploading. Through this process, the PowerPoint file will be converted to a Google Slides presentation.
Once the uploading has completed, you can choose which slides you’d like to import. To start, select all. This way, you have an overview of the different slide layout templates you could use. Now, it’s time to start customizing the design of your slides!
2. Customizing the Theme
At first, you’ll notice that there are many slides to choose from to start creating your presentation with. I recommend that, instead of deleting the ones don’t need, just start by dragging the slides that you do plan to use to the top of your slide list.
Now, you can keep an overview of the different slide designs, which helps as you start putting together your presentation.
This makes it easy to have a handy overview of the different slide layouts you can work with while designing. Once you’re done with the presentation design, you can delete the remaining slides that you won’t use.
Step 1. Designing a Cover Slide
The first slide in the theme is an ideal cover slide to use. A cover slide is the initial slide which displays the title of the presentation and acts as the introduction before diving into the rest of the presentation.
On the cover slide, we want to change the following elements:
- Change the title
- Add a background image
Working with Text in Google Slides
Updating the copy in a Google Slides presentation is easy. Click on the text on the slide and start typing your new title. As you notice, the title is embedded in a text box. Depending on the size and length of your title, your text box might be too small.
You can readily manipulating a text box in Google Slides. Just drag the corners surrounding the box in order to make the text box larger or smaller. In the toolbar, you also have the Alignment options to make use of.
By changing the dimensions of the text box, the actual font size and using the alignment options, you’re capable of manipulating the text on a slide as you see fit.
Tip: Typography will help you to create a better visual hierarchy in your slide. Make titles bigger and bold, while body text should be smaller.
In the menu bar, you’ll notice Arrange in the top menu. In there, you can choose to Center on page, which is useful to help you arrange elements on a slide to improve the visual design. I’ll be centering my title horizontally on this slide.
Tip: While dragging elements around, you can hold the Shift key to keep the element on the same x-position or y-position. For example: if you’d like to shift the title a little bit more to the left while keeping it aligned on the horizontal axis.
Working with Images in Google Slides
To add an image, you can select on any of the placeholder images in a slide. In the toolbar, you’ll see a Replace image option. When you click on this, you’re capable of uploading an image which will be used in the slide. I recommend finding images through a free service such as Unsplash for example or use our affordable premium photos site PhotoDune, which is part of Envato Market.
Once you’ve uploaded an image, you’ll often be using two tools to perfect how the image looks on a slide. You’ll be using:
- Image options
- Cropping tool
The Image options is a useful tool to manipulate an image to make it fit your slide. For example, think of reducing the transparency, changing the colors by using any of Google’s premade options or reducing the brightness of the image so that the white text on top becomes more legible.
With Cropping you have the ability to change how the image is displayed on the slide. You have the Mask which is the area which will be actually visible from the image on the slide and you have the actual image itself. Visually, the mask area is the area of the image which is fully visible, the cropped area is the area of the image which is slightly transparent.
You can manipulate the mask, to define how the image should look on the slide and then you can manipulate the actual image, to change how the image will look in the mask.
With the title updated and a background image added, we’re done with our title slide! An example of a finished slide is shown below.
Step 2. Designing a Services Slide
Next up, let’s design a traditional services slide which is often found in a sales presentation. They usually contain the following elements:
- An overview of the services
- A brief description about said service
- Pricing information
Now, let’s take a look at the theme and see what slides we could use for this design. As you notice, there are some slides designed in the theme which specifically could act as a slide to present services.
However, I really like the design of slide 8, which you can see below. Let’s customize this slide to use it as a service slide.
The following are elements on the slide that I would like to change:
- Image on the left half of the slide
- Slide title
- Features and icons on the right section of the slide
Let’s first change the image. When you click on the placeholder image, you can use the Replace image tool again, in combination with masking and cropping as described above to change the image as you please.
Now, let’s change the text as well as change the icons which are used on the right section of the slide. First, let’s see what icons we could use.
At the end of the different theme slides, you’ll notice a collection of icons. For the services, instead of using the checkmark icon which is used in the template slide, you could use any of the other icons provided with the theme. In the Hipster theme, you can find the icon slides at the end of the presentation.
Simply copy an icon from the icon slide and paste it in the slide you’d like to use. You can use the toolbar menu to, for example, change the color or stroke size of the icon.
Tip: If an icon consists of different elements, you can select them all by dragging your cursor around the elements and group the elements by right-clicking and selecting ‘group’. This makes it easier to, for example, change the color of the icon.
Time to practice! Use what you’ve learnt to manipulate the text and add icons to your slide. Try to achieve a similar result as the finished slide below.
Step 3. Designing a Portfolio Slide
In order to showcase some of the work you’ve done in the past, a presentation could include a portfolio slide.
A portfolio slide tends to contain a lot of images. They typically including either logos or images from projects.
In the theme, there are a few suitable portfolio slides. You could use one which includes a project description. If you’re a photographer for example, you might want to pick a slide which only contains images.
I personally really like slide 23. The only elements we need to change is to replace the images. As described in designing the cover slide, you’ll probably have to work with cropping and masking the different images in order to get the design of the slide right.
This is a good slide to practice image composition as well. What images can you combine to create a nice look and feel? Perhaps you could use Image options to give each image similar colors for example.
Tip: You can double-click on an image to open the cropping masking interface.
I replaced the images. You can see the completed portfolio slide design below.
Step 4. Designing a Team Slide
Another commonly recurring slide in a presentation is a slide which features people, often known as a team slide.
Most themes include designs for a team slide. You have slides which could feature multiple people, or highlight one person. I’ve picked slide 18 to customize.
We’re going to change the following elements:
- Copywriting (Name, title, bio)
- Social media links
By now, we know how to change the image by using Replace image. Changing the text should be easy by now as well.
How can you change the social media links? Select the piece of text that you’d like to make clickable. Go to Insert in the menu bar and select Link. Now you can paste the URL you’d like to link to. You can also use the link feature to link to different slides in the presentation.
Tip: In the future, instead of using the menu bar, you could also use the shortcut CMD+K for Mac or CTRL+K for Windows computers to insert a link.
Time to finish the design of the slide. You can use the finished design below as a guideline.
As you see, Google Slides is an excellent presentation software alternative to quickly have a presentation ready using themes. Here is our final set of slide designs for reference:
Discover more great Google Slides themes on Envato Market with new designs trending weekly. Also, If you’re looking for some final advice to get your presentation straightened out, I recommend taking a look at the following article. It helps you understand how an efficient presentation is designed.
Should you have any further questions, feel free to reach out on Twitter. I’m happy to help!