Another dot in the blogosphere?

Google Slides’ new Q&A tool

Posted on: May 6, 2016

I occasionally conduct the necessary evil of keynotes and seminars using Google Slides (samples), so I was glad to hear about the new Audience Tool.


Video source

I wondered if it functioned like Pigeonhole or Dotstorming. The former is a passcode-accessed space for ranking questions from an audience. The latter is an open tool akin to online stickies.

I also wondered if the Q&A tool could act as a backchannel (like TodaysMeet) for audience members to become even more active participants of a talk.

The Google Slides update rolled out and I explored the features of the Audience Tool.

In the desktop version, the Audience Tool is activated via a dropdown menu under the “Present” button.

Google Slides: Audience Tool

In the mobile app version, the Audience Tool is counterintuitively activated via the “Present to a new video call” option.

Google Slides: Audience Tool (mobile app)

Here are ten of my notes on the Audience Tool:

  1. When you start the tool, an overlay with the URL to access the tool appears over the top of your current slide. The goo.gl shortener to the Audience Tool is convenient, but I also like to provide a QR code to make it easy to access.
    Audience Tool URL as overlay.
  2. The tool works well on desktop or mobile. If you can type or SMS, you can use the tool.
  3. It can be used as a basic backchannel, but note the next point.
  4. The voting up of questions or comments works efficiently and allows popular statements to rise to the top. This also changes the order of entries based on their popularity.
  5. You cannot thumb up or thumb down your own question. This prevents some abuse.
  6. Participants are anonymous. If you are signed in to Google Drive, you have the option of being anonymous.
  7. As the presenter, you have the option of displaying questions or comments via the Audience Tools panel. The questions or comments can be selected one at a time and replace the current slide. Clicking on the slide advances the deck to the next slide.
  8. If you accidentally close the Audience Tools panel, you need only resume the Presenter View and you have the option of starting a new session or resuming the previous one.
  9. The Q&A history is saved with the slide deck and appears in the mobile app (three dots menu) and desktop versions (Tools menu) of Google Slides.
  10. If you close the main Google Slides presentation, the Audience Tool stops working.

I cannot say for sure if the Google Slides Audience Tool is a TodaysMeet or Twitter backchannel killer. At the moment, it:

  • does not highlight the users, questions, or comments with different colours;
  • provides no options to delete questions or comments;
  • has no options for exporting the text for archiving or showing a projector view;
  • is not a persistent feature unlike most backchannels tools.

I do not think that most presenters will miss these features. The Google Slides Audience Tool is certainly a threat to other free Q&A and backchannelling tools.

17 Responses to "Google Slides’ new Q&A tool"

amy vecchione: RT @ashley: Google Slides’ new Q&A tool ashleytan.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/goo… via twitter.com

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Aaron Tay: RT @ashley: Google Slides’ new Q&A tool ashleytan.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/goo… via twitter.com

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Kwan Tuck Soon: RT @ashley: @tucksoon @gilbertng_yf I reviewed the Google Slides Audience Tool bit.ly/1O1iOLq. via twitter.com

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lookang: RT @ashley: @tucksoon @gilbertng_yf I reviewed the Google Slides Audience Tool bit.ly/1O1iOLq. via twitter.com

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Kwan Tuck Soon: RT @ashley: A review of the Google Slides audience tool ashleytan.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/goo… #edsg via twitter.com

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CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: RT @ashley: A review of the Google Slides audience tool ashleytan.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/goo… #edsg via twitter.com

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Vonglaxay Saysana: RT @ashley: A review of the Google Slides audience tool ashleytan.wordpress.com/2016/05/06/goo… #edsg via twitter.com

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CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: giving a short talk at @UniSIM Faculty Learning Symposium this morning and wanted to try it out. They’re using @Slidoapp tho #edsg via twitter.com

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CHAN Hsiao-yun 曾曉韻: would be nice if I could key in answers to questions @Slidoapp & @googledrive Slides Q&A. #edsg via twitter.com

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Dr Ashley Tan: Please let me know how it goes. Have not used @Slidoapp as it’s code-restricted. #edsg via twitter.com

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Thank you for featuring the lovely pictures–
so open to a sense of reflection.

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