Closed Captioning with Google Slides provides CC for live presentations

By Laura Bergells on

In an attempt to make live presentations more accessible, I first used Closed Captioning in Google Slides for a presentation I gave around a year ago. Closed Captioning in Google Slides is easy to use and does a terrific job.

All you need is Google Slides, Google Chrome, a live internet connection, and a microphone. That’s it. In the above video, I show you how to activate it. The video is under a minute. It’s that easy.

But does it work? Yes. And it works really well.

I was in a room with about 100 people. The internet connection was steady but slow — and yet, Google translated what I said in real time with about 97% accuracy for a 45 minute presentation.

In the video above, you’ll see that I get 100% accuracy. This was a one-take video that I filmed on my laptop, at home, with a laptop mike. Nothing fancy.

But now I have a confession: even though I’ve established that Google Slides Closed Captioning for live presentations is a great tool: I still don’t use Closed Captioning for 100% of my presentations.

I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Old habits dying hard?

I felt bad about this, and vowed to do better in the future. I mean, WHY NOT make live presentations more accessible? Why not use it for EVERY live presentation?

And then, I was surprised that I got some pushback for wanting to make my live presentations more accessible.

“Not every presentation needs closed captioning, Laura,” came the naysayer. “Why not ask your audience whether they want it or not? After all, not everyone needs or wants Closed Captioning. It might be distracting.”

To those naysayers, I say this:

Remember when I said “old habits die hard?” I think that’s the case here. For the past year, I didn’t used closed captioning because it wasn’t my HABIT to do so. For years, I’ve been presenting live without closed captioning.

But if I use Closed Captioning every time I present, it will become a habit.

And to those who say, “…but not everyone needs it, so why not ask your audience if they want it or not?” — I have this to say:

  1. These are early days in providing closed captioning. If you’re against it, it might simply because you’re not exposed to it. Once you become familiar with it, you might find you appreciate the visual support.
  2. The last thing I want to do is make someone in my audience uncomfortable. To single them out. To make them admit, to a roomful of people that they need Closed Captioning.
  3. Your day is coming. Someday, you might need to rely on Closed Captioning or other Assistive Technologies. When we design an inclusive experience, we’re improving the design for YOU.

In the future, I’ll do a better job of using Closed Captioning for my live presentations. I’ll get into the habit of using Google Slides with Closed Captioning for my presentations. If we have the technology, why not use it?

And if you use PowerPoint, it’s easy enough to run your show through Google Slides to give your audience a more inclusive experience. What else can we do to make our live presentations more accessible to our audiences?




Laura Bergells is a professional story finder. She writes, coaches, teaches, and speaks. Check out her online courses at LinkedIn Learning.

If you’re a LinkedIn Premium or Lynda.com member, these courses are free! If you’re not a member, you can either become a member or buy each of these classes à la carte.