Google Slides has a new audience participation Q&A feature

The audience can ask questions and vote on ones they want answered.

Presentation apps may not be the most exciting software out there, but there's no doubt that tools like Powerpoint and Google Slides are important to large swaths of professional and educational users. Today, Google is adding what seems to be a pretty unique and clever feature to Slides to encourage more audience participation. It's simply called Q&A, and it lets audience members submit questions to a speaker throughout a presentation; you can also vote on which questions you want to have answered.

If you're using Google Slides and want to hold a Q&A, you can display a short URL on your presentation that attendees can go to and submit a question without interrupting the proceedings. At that same URL, anyone in the audience can see all the questions that have been submitted thus far and give them a "thumbs up" to indicate interest in hearing an answer.

From the presenter's perspective, the device that's running their presentation will have access to all the questions that come in, and you can sort them based on those that receive the most votes. Google has also added a few new features to make it easier to share a Slides deck if you're not using a standard PC -- you can now send your presentation to a screen via the Hangouts app when using an iOS or Android device. All told, you can now use either Hangouts, Airplay or Google Cast functionality to get your presentation off your phone or tablet to a screen.

Lastly, there's a new "laser pointer" feature for when you're presenting on a computer over the web that lets you quickly point out content onscreen for your audience -- it basically turns your mouse pointer into a laser pointer. All of these updates should be available today, whether you're using Slides in Chrome or the apps for iOS and Android.