Creating Visual Schedules and Gantt Charts using a PowerPoint Add-in, Office TIMELINE

I recently had a discussion with one of our presentation industry gurus, Taylor Croonquist about the importance of add-ins to PowerPoint and what a treasure trove they are in terms of productivity, creativity, and speed design.

This month, we will take a look at one of his favorites, Office TIMELINE which will guide you through easy-to-use templates for creating professional timelines and Gantt charts. Like many of the add-ins coming out now, you can use them across PowerPoint, Excel, and MS Project. There is both a free version and a more robust version that you can purchase for $49 per year. You use an integrated ribbon to customize it to your design and need. And they offer a library of templates across project types and deliverables.

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Here are just a few of the timeline templates you can use to visualize your project timelines and deliverables – see below. Click on the name of each one to download the template.

There are many more templates available for both Gantt and other timeline templates.

12- month Schedule

Milestone Template

Gantt Chart Template

Let’s try it out and take it for a test drive.  First, go get the add in – it’s free. It is simple to install.

PowerPoint Template

PowerPoint Template

Go to Options, then choose Add-ins. Choose “Manage PowerPoint Add-ins”, hit “go” and a dialog box with the available add-ins pops up. You select “Office Timeline” and then select “load “. You are all set.

Open PowerPoint and you will see your Office Timeline in the upper right. Select it and you have an integrated ribbon which streamlines this process:

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You can choose “New” or “Import”. I chose New and am using one of the templates

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To customize it, you go to each tab and fill it in:

 

 

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Enter your milestones on this screen

 

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Enter Tasks on this screen

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Create your own look and feel

 

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My timeline

Another plus for this add-in is the great library of how-to videos 

Email me and tell me what you think!

Sharyn sig - first name

Infographic Resources Can Help Your Audiences Visualize Data

Most presentations are filled with truck loads of data, communicated through slide after slide of mind-numbing bullet points. The likelihood of your audience extracting the significant facts from this data dump is low.

Data is dry and lifeless until you make it come alive. Enter the infographic.

Wikipedia defines infographics as “graphic visual representations of information, data or knowledge intended to present complex information quickly and clearly.” Infographics help an audience better understand complicated data and see patterns and trends. These graphic pictures provide context and tell a story which makes it easier for the audience to find relevance in the information.

The concept of graphically representing complicated information has been around for ages, but infographics are currently popular partly perhaps as an antidote to those bullet point-laden slides and partly because of new tools which make them easier than ever to produce.

Here are a few of the tools that will help you create infographics to make your presentations clearer and more memorable:

Easel.ly: This is a free, web-based app that creates professional-looking graphics. There are a variety of pre-existing themes where you can insert your own text and customize background colors, icons and fonts by dragging and dropping. The tool is easy to use and your infographic can be downloaded as a jpeg or png for your presentation.

Venngage: Another drag and drop tool with many templates, themes, charts and icons. You can upload data as a CSV to create your chart. The free option only allows for online viewing and sharing while the premium option [currently $19/month] enables you to export as a pdf or png.

Charteo: This takes the concept of PowerPoint templates to a whole new level. There are over 15,000 slides in this PowerPoint library in a wide variety of charts, graphs, diagrams and tables as well as background images, graphic metaphors, icons and symbols. The slides are 100% editable, including color, and can be downloaded for either Mac or PC. You can purchase an individual slide, an entire presentation or a subscription service.

With any of these tools, it’s easy to be seduced with the clever designs and cool bells and whistles. But remember that your primary job is to decide what message, story or pattern you want to communicate with your data and then…and only then…choose the appropriate tool to visualize that data for your audience.

About the Author:

Kathy Reiffenstein is the founder and president of And…Now Presenting!, a Washington DC-area business communications training firm, which offers a suite of public speaking and presentation skills programs geared to creating confident, persuasive speakers. Visit Kathy’s website at www.andnowpresenting.com to subscribe to her bi-weekly presentation tips or her blog where you’ll find fresh insights on speaking in public that are engaging, sometimes irreverent and always practical.

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