How to Use Google Earth Web as a Presentation Tool
Google Earth isn’t just a cool navigation tool. You can also use it for presentations that involve real-life locations. The app already has a built-in feature just for that purpose.
Let’s say you’re a travel journalist and you want to be able to demonstrate where you’ve been around the world when pitching to new clients. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to create such presentations on Google Earth.
1. Get Google Earth and Drive
You can now use Google Earth on any browser, not just Chrome. If you’ve never tried the app before, you can find out more about it by visiting the Google Earth website. From there, hit the Launch Earth button to log in with your Google account.
Also, the app mainly uses Google Drive to store the projects you create, so it’s a good idea to set up an account before making your first presentation.
Once you’ve signed in to Google Earth, our digital planet will appear on your screen with several features on the left sidebar, such as map styles and Google’s tool for measuring area and distance.
Select the Projects icon and, assuming you don’t already have a presentation, click Create and then choose whether you want to store the new project on Google Drive or as a KML file—it stands for Keyhole Markup Language, an XML file that contains geographic information.
As the easiest method, go for the Google Drive option and wait for Google Earth to link up to your account. Once you create a project, click its Pin to Earth icon to make sure you can always find it when logging in.
3. Give Your Project a Title and Description
Take the time to name and describe your new presentation by filling in the two available fields. If nothing else, they can help you remember the purpose or details of each project.
On your dashboard, you have a few more options above your title and description. You can share, reload, or delete the project, as well as copy it, download it as a KML file, or report it for inappropriate content, the last being more useful to visitors.
4. Add Places to Your Google Earth Presentation
Under your project’s title and description is the New feature button, which opens a menu of many more tools. To pin locations of interest, you can either use Search to add place or Add placemark. The latter is especially good if the location you want is too obscure for Google to find.
A location you searched for will already display some details provided by Google, which you can change by clicking Replace. Your own placemarks are blank from the start.
A third option is to zoom in on a location, enter Street View, and click Capture this view. You can then add the place to your project after editing its details. Use this to get Google Earth’s satellite view of your house or a landmark from your travels worth sharing.
All three methods let you edit the locations you choose. This includes:
- Naming and describing them
- Editing the typeface
- Adding images and videos
- Personalizing your placemark’s icon and color
- Choosing the size of your info box
- Previewing the location’s display
When happy, just click the Back arrow—Google automatically saves your project. Every location you add to your presentation joins its list of markers, which you can easily select and edit as necessary.
5. Connect Places With Lines
As a travel journalist, you may want to demonstrate the number of flights you took from your home base in the last year or the stops you made during a long road trip. You can use Google Earth’s lines tool for this.
To do so, select Draw line or shape from the New feature menu. Click the places you want to mark, and lines will automatically appear between them.
Hit Enter to save the shape you made and access its editor. If you close your shape into a square or triangle, for example, you can customize its filling as well as its outline.
Another tool to make your project interesting is the Tilt the view button, which shifts your angle between 2D and 3D. While in a place’s editor, choose the best viewpoint and click Capture this view—that’s what you’ll get when you jump to the location in your presentation.
6. Add Slides to Your Presentation
If you take pictures on your travels, you can add them to your Google Earth presentation to share the people and scenery you encounter and create stories from your travel writing.
In the New feature menu, select Fullscreen slide. Upload your image or video, add whatever text you want, choose a background color, and preview the slide.
Add several of these visuals throughout the presentation to enrich the experience. This is especially useful for more creative projects on Google Earth, like teaching or planning a book.
7. Move Your Presentation’s Features Around
When you have all the places, lines, and slides you need for your project, hold and move each item up or down the list to adjust its order.
The presentation will play from the top to the bottom, so how you lay out all your items affects the impact and flow of your presentation.
If you want to skip an item when presenting, click the Hide feature icon next to it. To bring it back, use the same icon.
Note that you can also create folders through the New feature menu, but they interfere with the presentation, so you’re better off using them to store unused items instead of hiding them individually.
8. Present Your Project
With everything in order, hit the Present button. Unfortunately, Google Earth isn’t PowerPoint, so you can’t automate or speed up transitions, animate text and images, and so on. There are also limits to how often Google Earth is updated.
However, you still end up with a very cool presentation that flies from place to place around the globe, occasionally broken up by slides that could contain photos or even graphs, depending on what you’re presenting as a travel journalist.
Keep in mind that jumping between locations can be dizzying, so choose your presentation’s items carefully, as well as how much detail you add to them and what view you capture for each place.
While there are many better options when it comes to presentation design software, Google Earth is one of the best tools for visualizing geographic themes.
Whether your interest is travel, ecology, history, or culture, keep learning how Google’s advanced map features can deliver the most engaging experience possible.