How to save time using timeline templates for PowerPoint


Using timeline templates in PowerPoint

Timeline templates for PowerPoint to jump-start your planning process

If you have a project plan and want to see it through, you need to map out the steps required to achieve it, and then convey them on a timeline. An essential component of the planning process, a timeline allows you to visualize critical tasks and dates, creating an easy-to-follow roadmap for your project and helping you stay on track.

Building a timeline involves taking all the information you have about your project and turning it into a clear schedule of when everything is going to be done. But where and how to start?

The easiest way to make simple timelines is to start with a template and one of the handiest tools is Microsoft PowerPoint. As one of the most popular presentation platforms available, it helps you generate presentation-ready plans that you can easily display to your teams, executives or clients.

To guide you through the process of using timeline templates in PowerPoint, we’ve created this easy-to-follow blog post. Read on to find out the basic steps and don’t hesitate to give it a go yourself.

Is there a timeline template in PowerPoint?

With a variety of features to enhance a presentation, PowerPoint does include timeline templates as well. You can create a timeline either using PowerPoint’s native templates or the more advanced ones which come with the free PowerPoint plugin called Office Timeline. Below, we’ll explain how both alternatives work.

I. How to create a timeline using PowerPoint’s native timeline templates

  1. Create a new presentation or open an existing one in PowerPoint.
  2. Click on the File tab on the PowerPoint ribbon and go to New.
  3. Type ”timeline template” in the Search box at the top of the page and press Enter.
  4. Double click to choose your preferred template from the resulted examples.
  5. Start customizing your chosen model.
  6. Searching for timeline templates in PowerPoint

Although PowerPoint provides a pretty varied range of timeline templates you can choose from, you will need to update them manually whenever a change occurs. This can become not only time-consuming, but also frustrating if you want to apply some more custom updates to the visual.

II. How to create a timeline in PowerPoint using Office Timeline templates

Next, you will find out how to quickly build, customize and update your graphic using Office Timeline, an intuitive PowerPoint add-in that automates timeline creation and management. First, you need to install Office Timeline and you can get started with the 14-days trial for free. This will add a new tab to the PowerPoint ribbon.

You can make a timeline using any of Office Timeline’s built-in-app templates or by downloading one from the wide collection of examples in our timeline gallery.

II.1 Using Office Timeline’s built-in-app templates

  1. Inside PowerPoint, go to the Office Timeline tab, and then click on the New icon. From the dropdown menu, choose Templates.
  2. Office Timeline New Templates creation

  3. To select the preferred timeline template from the gallery that appears, double-click and then click on Use Template.
  4. Office Timeline Template Gallery

  5. In the Data wizard that opens next, enter your tasks, milestones and their set dates or copy and paste an existing schedule from Excel.
  6. In the same Data view, make a few styling choices such as changing the shape or color for each item.
  7. Office Timeline Data view

  8. In the Timeline view, use the drag&drop editor to adjust the layout and move elements around.
  9. Office Timeline Drag&Drop editor

  10. Once ready, click the green Create button.

II.2 Using a downloaded Office Timeline template

  1. Go the timeline template gallery and choose your favorite template.
  2. Click on the Download button under the template of your choice.
  3. Once downloaded, double-click to open it in PowerPoint.
  4. Follow the simple 3 steps provided on the first slide of the presentation.
  5. How to update a downloaded Office Timeline template

Once created, the timeline can be quickly styled further or updated automatically with the help of Office Timeline. For example, you can change shapes, colors, timescale and dates on the fly, or reposition items on the timeline using the add-in’s intuitive drag & drop interface. Not only that, but Office Timeline also allows you to create and save your own custom templates that you can use for future work.

If you want to build smart timelines as native PowerPoint slides that are easily shared and on which colleagues can collaborate right from the browser, you can also try out our simple, accessible online timeline maker.

That’s it! These are the basics steps to get started with a timeline template for PowerPoint – all you need to do now is to find the one that best suits your project and customize it to fit your particular data. Good luck!



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

What Is a Timeline (with Examples and Templates)


10 timeline examples

What Is a Timeline?

A timeline is a type of graphic that arranges a chain of events in chronological order. Perfect for telling stories and visualizing projects and processes, timelines are generally used to:

  • Give an overview of events;
  • Detail an agenda;
  • Highlight critical points in time;
  • Depict different temporal relations;
  • Track progress over time of multiple events happening simultaneously;
  • Identify specific patterns within a course of procedure in a streamlined format.

What Should a Timeline Include?

Representing an alignment in time and making a chronological statement, a timeline should include the series of events and activities (milestones and tasks) that you want to display on your graphic, along with their dates to mark their occurrence over a particular phase.

Whether you employ this type of visual content for knowledge sharing or tracking the progress of a plan, here are the two main things you need to consider in order to outline the structure of a basic timeline:

  • Listing out the main steps/stages of your plan and setting clear deadlines/time reference points – break up your work into tasks with start and due dates to estimate how much time each of them will take;
  • Figuring out the logical order in which your tasks will occur – determine which of your tasks need to be completed first and whether there are any that can’t start until others are completed.

How to Create a Timeline

Now that we’ve covered what a timeline is and should include, you can create one from scratch or starting from a template. There are a variety of purpose-built tools to help you achieve this goal, and one of most accessible ones is our online timeline maker, that you can try for free right from your browser.

If drafting a timeline from start to finish is too time-consuming, opting for a template might be the better alternative. Below, we’ve put together a varied collection of 10 timeline examples that you can customize depending on your needs to effectively convey project plans, team schedules or workflows, and other similar chronologies. These are:



All of them have been designed natively in PowerPoint so that you and any team member who uses the presentation platform can contribute, edit and share them with ease.

Each of the templates can be customized in PowerPoint either:

  • by manually replacing the placeholder texts with your own data and restyling any colors, shapes, and positions;
  • or automatically, by using a PowerPoint add-in called Office Timeline.

If you opt for the second option, you need to install Office Timeline, which will add a new tab to the PowerPoint ribbon.

Office Timeline menu

Once the plugin is installed, follow these steps to quickly build, customize and update any of the timeline examples presented below:

  1. Click on the Download button under the template of your choice.
  2. Once downloaded, double-click to open it in PowerPoint.
  3. Select the Office Timeline tab on the PowerPoint ribbon, and then Click the Data Edit button.
  4. Edit the data with your own milestones and tasks.
  5. Click Save to instantly update the template.

Timeline Examples to Bring Your Plans into Action


1. Project Implementation Plan Timeline


Project Implementation Plan Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Designed to help project managers and team leaders create clear tactical plans effortlessly, the project implementation plan template provides the much needed bird’s eye view of an entire project. By turning strategic goals into actionable steps, it enables all team members to quickly see what they are expected to deliver, when, and what tasks they need to complete. The easy-to-follow format makes this graphic a good tool not only for internal communication, but also for presenting the overall picture to management, clients and other non-project audiences.

Since effective planning lies at the heart of successful project management and delivery, this template can also be used to show relationships between activities, track individual task progress as the project moves forward, or identify at-risk tasks.


2. Gantt Chart Template


Gantt Chart Template Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Including a timeline with editable milestones to highlight key events, this free Gantt chart template outlines a project schedule at a high level in a simple and user-friendly manner. Unlike most Gantt charts that are complicated and difficult for other people to read and understand, this timeline template maps out the essential and can be easily included in communications such as project reviews, proposals, plans, scorecards and status meetings.


3. Marketing Plan Timeline


Marketing Plan Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Any good business initiative relies on a solid marketing plan which usually takes pages of documents to be detailed. This timeline example offers an effective reference point to support the delivery of your marketing plan and assess its progress. Use this free marketing timeline template to present important marketing strategies and communicate with clients, management and other high level audiences that need to be briefed in a clear, easy-to-understand way.


4. Sales Plan Timeline


Sales Plan Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Having a good sales plan is essential to achieving sales and marketing goals. This timeline template enables sales leaders, marketers and account executives to illustrate theirs with clear objectives laid out monthly, quarterly or annually and present it to staff, sales teams and management. Used as a visual aid in important meetings, it helps align organizations and management behind the key targets and deadlines of sales campaigns. Alternatively, it can serve as a scorecard to present a plan’s progress against its objectives.


5. Year Timeline


12-Month Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Since many business initiatives, campaigns, marketing programs, and personal projects are created over a 12-month term, the year timeline example is ideal to plan and outline your objectives before embarking on the actual venture. It gives you the visual aid to share and present your plan to stakeholders in a familiar graphical way to obtain the buy-in, state your intentions or update others on the progress that has been made.


6. Event Planning Timeline


Event Planning Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Illustrating all the major deadlines on a single summary slide, the event planning timeline was designed to give planners, their teams and partners the ability to keep track of what items need to be done and when. Easily accessible and shareable, this template helps you never lose sight of pending milestones and is a resourceful tool to manage teams and vendors.


7. Crime Timeline


Crime Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Providing a linear outline for events, this timeline template will help attorneys lay out the key facts and circumstances of their case in a way that is simple for any audience to understand. Use this timeline example to better structure arguments, analyze events, and prepare for trial with a chronological, visual exhibit that increases the jury’s understanding of your oral discourse.


8. Daily Schedule Timeline


Daily Schedule Timeline

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Graphically displayed as an hourly Gantt chart rather than as a spreadsheet, this downloadable timeline template can be easily be printed in full color, shared in emails or included in presentations. Unlike most list-based daily schedules which don’t accommodate schedule overlapping, this graphic comes with a simpler, easy-to-read layout that lets viewers check the calendar at a glance.


9. Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline


Pharmaceutical Product Discovery Timeline

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


This timeline template was designed to help pharma professionals involved in the development of a new drug to stay on track in this complex, multi-staged process. Covering the key phases of the discovery of pharmaceutical products, along with major milestones such as drug selection or approval, it documents the journey from research to commercialization and lays out a clear roadmap for a project of this magnitude.


10. Generic Timeline


Generic Timeline Example

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


With a basic structure that displays a series of milestones and an elapsed time indicator on the timeband, this visual is suitable for historical presentations, project reviews, status reports, plan presentations, scorecards, or for any other effort that requires a simple project schedule or the illustration of a plan.


Check out more templates

For more examples to get inspired in building stylish timelines, visit our timeline gallery or explore the free, simple-to-use built-in-app templates offered by our online timeline maker.



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

How to update your project plan with Office Timeline

We know that even the most carefully laid out plans can change in the blink of an eye. Business dealings can fall through the roof, instrumental partners can drop out at the worst possible moment, and let’s not even talk about natural disasters or health crises.

It may sound difficult to emerge unscathed from such challenges, but it’s definitely not impossible; the key is adaptability. In the words of Charles Darwin, “It is not the strongest or the most intelligent who will survive but those who can best manage change”.

Thankfully, Office Timeline has got you covered. Instead of spending hours every week on your visuals only to redo them again when the plans change, these features help you update your project timeline in minutes. We have compiled a list of the best ones for you below.



1. Importing data from other project management software

Do you normally use a PM tool like Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet or Wrike for tracking your project? The import feature allows you to bring in all the data and turn it into a smart and stylish visual with just a couple of clicks.

Transform even the most complex Microsoft Project plans into eloquent graphics that paint a comprehensive picture of the situation by importing directly into timeline templates. Here’s an example:

Import from MS Project

Perhaps you’re partial to Excel instead? No worries, this handy data table-making software from Microsoft is also on the list of supported integrations, as you can see here:

Import from Excel

The good news for Excel users is that you don’t even need to follow the import route. You can simply copy and paste the cells directly into Office Timeline and let our add-in do the work for you:

Copy and paste from Excel


Download the Office Timeline Pro free trial today and see for yourself just how easy it is to import data from PM tools like Excel, Project, Smartsheet or Wrike in a jiffy.

Office Timeline free trial

2. Sync your data file to bring in your latest changes

Are you already taking advantage of the import features? Then allow us to show you how to go one step further: you can now sync Office Timeline graphs with any changes made to the source file. Basically, there’s no need to reimport the data for every little modification made.

Simply hit the Sync button afterwards and the interface will allow you to tick which ones to mirror on your Gantt chart or timeline. Here's how to update timelines in PowerPoint faster than you can say 'impending deadlines':

Sync with Excel


3. Use templates to get started quickly

When designing your own graphic, your first impulse would be to start from scratch: you’d have full control over the colors, style or size of the elements. However, this approach can take hours of work and unless you’re a designer, the results will probably not be exactly what you expected. So why not check out the custom-built templates we’ve created for almost any occasion?

Select new template

Once you have a starting point, you can continue to improve upon it as much as you like, with no limit but your imagination. You can even change the template if the original one doesn’t cut it, or in case you decide to go in a different direction.

Change template

Worked hard to tailor it with your company’s branding and color scheme? Then why not save this as a customized template and reuse it for further presentations down the line, instead of starting fresh every time? There’s really nothing to it!

Save timeline as a template


Try Office Timeline Pro for free for 14 days and check out the many templates that are built-in to make your work easier.

Office Timeline free trial

Conclusion

As stressful as it can be, change also an integral part of the world around and the best thing we can do is be ready for it. With these features you don’t need to stress out about preparing for your next project update meeting.

See how much time you can save by taking advantage of a wide range of Office Timeline’s fully automated features designed to simplify your work without skimping on quality or aesthetics. Check out the free version of the tool or discover the Pro Edition to translate sophisticated project data into a visual form that comes to life before your eyes.



Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning timelines, roadmaps and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Pro free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL

Easily Share and Collaborate on a Timeline


Share and collaborate Office Timeline


Managing a project, big or small, requires effective team coordination and constant communication with management and clients. That usually means a lot of planning, tracking, sharing, aligning, updating, presenting, updating again, and sharing again. 

What you need is a simple collaborative tool to help you build presentation-ready timelines and Gantt charts, manage them together with your colleagues, and share them with anyone without too much fuss. With the sharing and collaboration tools available in Office Timeline Online, you can streamline planning, delegate tasks, align teams, and clue in stakeholders fast and easily.

Share and collaborate on timelines with anyone

Our timeline and Gantt chart maker lets you share a timeline in different ways depending on who you are working with and what your intention is. It is simple and intuitive.


  • Do you want your team members to collaborate on a timeline with you? Invite them as collaborators and choose whether you allow them to edit your plan and share it further or not. You can add or remove collaborators or change their permissions at any time, at the click of a button.

  • Invite collaborators to your timeline

  • Do you want to delegate work and easily show everyone who's doing what? Assign tasks or milestones to team members, and they'll be notified via email and inside the web app about their responsibilities. They'll also be able to see the full timeline, so they'll always know how their work fits into the big picture.

  • Assign tasks in Office Timeline Online

  • Do you need a quick and easy way to share your updated plan with execs or clients? It takes a second to create a shareable, view-only link to your timeline and send it to them. Because we know they're busy, we made it so that they can access it instantly, without having to create an account or log in to Office Timeline Online.

  • Create shareable link to your timeline

To find out more about collaborating in Office Timeline Online, please see our detailed how-to guide here.

Ready to share and collaborate? Log in to the web app now and try out for yourself!

The Psychology of Presentations: Getting Your Point Across

Have you ever attended a bad presentation? I have, and they seem to be endless and boring regardless of how interesting the subject may have been. I can think of several meetings where I was presented with eye-straining slides, or slides created from blocks of pasted text. In these types of presentations, I find it hard to stay focused on what the host is saying and, unfortunately, struggle to retain the information they were trying to communicate.

Any presenter’s primary goal is for their audience to pay attention, easily understand the data being communicated, and leave the room remembering the main points. Thanks to the extensive research available on human psychology, memory and attention, presenters can take advantage of scientifically based techniques to create more compelling and effective presentations.

From capturing the audience’s attention to raising retention levels, the following research-backed tips will help professionals deliver more effective presentations:

Here are a few tips to help beginner product managers ace their presentations:

          Cater to the different learning styles

Psychologists, teachers, trainers and leaders often use a theory of learning called the VAK model to help people concentrate on and process information more effectively. According to the VAK theory, an individual’s dominant learning style can be either visual, auditory or kinesthetic.

  • Auditory learners absorb information best through words and sounds. Varying vocal pitch, tone, volume and pace to avoid monotony or emphasize important ideas can be an effective approach when addressing this type of audiences. In addition, well-placed pauses can add tension, spark curiosity, or give the participants time to process new concepts.
  • Visual learners respond best to graphs, mind maps, charts, pictures and any other illustrations. Using facial expressions, gestures and other visual cues while speaking can also be effective.
  • Kinesthetic learners retain new concepts most effectively through experience – moving, doing, touching, sharing. Inviting them to share their opinions or integrating various activities into the presentation will help keep kinesthetic audiences focused and improve retention levels.

Since an audience usually comprises a mix of the different types of learners, the safest approach when planning a presentation is to cater to all learning styles. However, in some instances, it can be a good idea to favor one sensory channel over the others. For example, when presenting to a team of illustrators or designers, emphasizing visual communication will ensure a better response from the audience.

Power up your presentation

          Structure the content

Research shows that structured information is 40% easier to retain than data conveyed in a freeform manner. To ensure clarity and higher retention levels, professionals can rely on a variety of effective presentation structures, including:


  • Problem – Solution – Benefit: good for motivating or persuading the audience
  • Cause – Effect: recommended for helping the audience understand the logic behind the presenter’s position
  • Comparison (differences and similarities): effective in highlighting the relative advantages of a specific approach to a problem
  • Chronological: best for reporting or stepping the audience through a process.
          Use the law of three

What do the Three Little Pigs, the slogan of the French Republic, and the famous Latin phrase “Veni, vidi, vici” have in common? It’s that they all come in threes - and there may be a reason behind it.

The law of three is one of the oldest writing and rhetoric principles, dating back to Aristotle. It suggests that groups or lists of three items are more effective, more “satisfying”, and easier to remember than any other numbers. The rule is used extensively in literature (particularly fairytales), public speaking, marketing, music, theater, the movie industry, and even religion – it is all around us. But why is the number 3 so powerful?

The answer may lie in the way our brains are wired. Humans’ pattern recognition capability is superior to any other species’ and it is one of the most important features supporting information processing, language and imagination. The human brain loves patterns – the simpler they are, the easier they’ll be to process and remember. Three is the smallest number required to make a pattern, and this is why triads are so effective when it comes to data retention. Therefore, reducing a presentation to three main points or structuring ideas as triads will make it easier for the audience to focus and remember the information presented.

          State your most important points first

According to research, people tend to remember the first and last items in a series considerably better than those in the middle of the sequence. This cognitive bias is called “serial position effect” and can have quite an impact on the effectiveness of a presentation. Therefore, a good approach to ensure higher data retention is to:


  • Present the most important points first
  • Use the middle of the presentation to expand them
  • Restate the key points in the conclusion.
          Use effective visuals

Numerous studies have demonstrated that images, graphs and pictures are more likely to grab attention and be remembered than words. Adding visuals to a presentation can, therefore, be one of the most valuable ways for professionals to ensure they get their point across - as long as they are used wisely. Here are a few tips on how to use visuals for more impactful presentations:

          1. Use graphs, not tables

Moin Syed, PhD, psychology professor at the University of Minnesota, recommends converting words and numbers into graphs and diagrams rather than tables. Tables require detailed reading and focus, so they are not ideal for extracting essential data quickly. A well designed chart, on the other hand, can help the audience get the big picture much faster.

          2. Be bold with colors

Be bold with colors

A recent IEEE study has shown that images comprising 7 or more colors are more memorable than visuals with 2 to 6 colors. As a result, a colorful project plan such as the one above, for instance, can ensure the project team or stakeholders will find the information presented easy to grasp and remember. On the other hand, the image below may seem more businesslike, but will most likely not have the same impact on the audience.

Use more colors in presentations

          3. Avoid complex visuals

Research published in the Journal of Neuroscience has revealed that visual and auditory senses share a limited neural resource. This means that focusing on complex images can reduce the brain’s capacity to process sounds. Consequently, when a presentation includes particularly demanding visuals, the audience will not merely ignore the presenter’s voice - they will actually fail to hear it in the first place. Practicing simple designs in presentations will reduce the cognitive load on the audience and ensure both the visual data and the speaker’s voice can get through to the participants.

          4. Surprise

Psychological studies on human memory have shown that a notably different item in a series of otherwise similar items will be more easily recalled than the others. This cognitive bias is known as the von Restorff effect and can be used to deliver more effective presentations. When creating graphs, charts and other visuals, professionals can tweak colors, sizes and shapes to add an element of surprise and steer the audience’s focus to the most important details. For instance, in the image below, “Beta Test 2.2” clearly stands out and will most likely be recalled better than the other milestones on the timeline.

Surprise elements in presentations

          5. Spark Curiosity

There is a psychological phenomenon called the curiosity gap that has been used extensively in online marketing (e.g. clickbait titles) and can be very effective in PowerPoint presentations as well. According to research, people learn better when they are curious about an answer. In addition, the increased dopamine activity while in a state of curiosity also improves their long-term memory. Presenting seemingly incomplete visuals and revealing the missing data gradually will make the audience curious about the omitted details and, therefore, ensure a higher retention level. For example, in the schedule presented below, viewers can see that there are two events programmed after lunch, but, initially, there is no data about what they entail.

Spark curiosity in presentations

When the information is revealed, due to the curiosity gap created, the audience will be more likely to remember the Mobile strategy meeting and the guest speaker programmed in the afternoon.

Mobile strategy in presentations

The tips above are just some of the many techniques experienced presenters use to get their point across successfully. Understanding the way the human mind works, what grabs attention and what supports learning and memory can help professionals create more powerful presentations, regardless of topic or purpose.

          Key points to remember

  • Adapting a presentation to the audience’s dominant learning style can considerably improve information processing.
  • Structure, patterns, and the order in which ideas are presented play a big role in data retention.
  • Well thought-out visuals will make important data easily distinguishable and more memorable.

Useful Resources:

Build Gantt charts online

Office Timeline Online Quick Start Tips

Office Timeline Add-in Quick Start Tutorial


Quickly turn project data into professional timelines

Build stunning, uncomplicated timelines and Gantt charts that are easy to make and simple to communicate. Get the advanced features of Office Timeline Plus free for 14 days.

GET FREE TRIAL