One of the most recent updates to Slides has been the addition of “audience Q&A”, which allows those watching some kind a presentation ask questions to the speaker. It’s really easy to use and can make presentations and also class activities far more interactive and engaging. Here we’ll look at:

  • Setting up audience Q&A
  • How do the audience ask a question?
  • What does the speaker see when someone asks a question?
  • Turning the Q&A off
  • Continuing with previous Q&As
  • Q&A history

Setting up audience Q&A

To use audience Q&A, click on the little triangle next to the “Present” button near the top of the screen. This gives you two options “Presenter view” which can include the use of Q&A and also speaker notes, or “Present from the beginning”, which will just present your slides.

Click on “Presenter view”.


This brings you to the audience tools and speaker notes view. On the left you have your slides, with the current one at the top, then below that the previous and next one. See my post on presenting your slides for more info on this.

On the right, it will show the audience Q&A part and at the top you have the option of selecting your speaker notes or the audience tools (Q&A).

Note, you will normally want one screen showing the audience tools and speaker notes which you are using, and another which the audience sees. Depending on your computer configuration, you may need to set it up so there are two screens.


Now you will want to share a link with your audience so they can use Q&A. Click “Start new”. Then it will take you to a screen with the short link, automatically set to “on”.


If you look at the screen you are showing to your audience, at the top they will see “Ask a question at…” plus the link. This stays at the top of all your slides unless you decide to turn it off.


How do the audience ask a question?

On their devices (phones, tablets, laptops) the audience go to the URL that you displayed. This takes them directly to the ‘ask a question’ page.


When they want to ask a question, they type it in in the white box, then press Submit. Note, this is the iOS format.


Once submitted, their question appears below. This appears on everyone’s devices who have used the Q&A link.


The audience have the possibility of rating the questions by clicking on the thumbs up or thumbs down icons. This moves the questions up or down the list, so the favourite questions are at the top. This is particularly useful if you receive a lot of questions. However, in a classroom environment you may wish to not use this as, as a teacher you may not want this to become a popularity contest!


If your audience is already logged into their Google account, using the link will use that account by default, but you can change accounts by clicking on the hamburger icon (3 lines) in top left corner of the yellow title bar.

Then go to “Switching accounts” to change accounts. They may wish to use a professional account rather than a personal one, as their name, email address, and profile picture are displayed for all to see.


The audience can still use the Q&A tool even without a Google account. They use the same link and the only difference is, is that “anonymous” will appear next to their question.


Those with Google accounts can choose to sign out and remain anonymous by going to “Switching accounts” then selecting “Sign out”.


What does the speaker see when someone asks a question?

In the Audience tools section, the speaker will see the questions come in and they will be listed in order of the time they were received, or if the audience has used the ranking system, then the most popular ones are at the top.

To show the question on the audience’s screen, click on “Present” just below the thumbs.


This will change the button to “Hide” and a green tick appears showing that you are showing that question.


On the audience’s screen they will see the question in massive font so it’s clear to see and they will see who asked the question (if they are logged in). This is really good, as sometimes in conferences and presentations, the audience (and speaker!) don’t hear the question being asked, but here it’s plain for all to see.


Turning the Q&A off

To turn it off, in the Audience tools section, just click the button to “off”. No more questions can be received and the link will disappear from your slides.


On the audience’s devices they will see a message saying “Sorry, this Q&A session is closed”.


Continuing with previous Q&As

During a presentation you may have stopped the Q&A part but wish to return to it later on. Fortunately, Slides allows you to continue with the recent Q&A session and keeps the questions previously asked in that session.

To return to it, from the audience tools section, click on “Continue recent”.


Then select the recent session by clicking on “continue”.


This will automatically open up the question page on the audience’s devices again.

Q&A history

Another wonderful part of Q&A is the fact that it remembers all the questions that were asked. This is stored in the Q&A history. To access this, go to the “Tools” menu and select “Q&A history”.


This opens up the history of questions asked for that set of slides. To see the questions, click on the session you want.


It will show you the same information you saw during the session, i.e. the questions, the ratings, and the people who asked them.


This is aimed at making presentations more interactive with the audience but I also see some educational uses. For example, students can ask their teacher anything they haven’t understood well during a class; while watching a video they can ask questions to be answered by their class mates. Maybe it could be used to recorded answers to a problem set, so not just for question taking. Then the students vote for their favourite solution.

It’s a really, nice, simple tool to use which I’m sure will be exploited to its extent.

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Baz Roberts (Google+Flipboard / Twitter)