Halloween scary PowerPoint timeline template

Halloween timeline template

If you work in a business environment, you must have heard (or lived) quite a few office horror stories over the years. Whether it’s a typo that turned your email into a not-safe-for-work proposition, a computer crashing in the middle of a video conference, a false step while holding a full cup of hot coffee - we’ve all had our share of office blunders that keep us up all night shivering and staring wide-eyed into the dark while mumbling “oh… my… god…”.

What doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger, as the philosopher said. This Halloween we’ve decided to face our demons head-on, so we’ve created a spooky timeline template to help you startle your audience and give that otherwise boring project review meeting a quick scare.

The Halloween timeline template was built using the Office Timeline add-in for PowerPoint, the only timeline and Gantt chart maker that turns complicated project data into clear, simple graphics with just a few clicks. Icons made by Freepik from www.flaticon.com. Party vector created by Freepik.

Download the Halloween PPT template and start making a presentation to die for!

Your turn now. What’s the scariest office horror story you’ve ever heard? Unearth it and share it in the comments.


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

3 Rules for Creating Effective Data Visualizations

Have you ever read a report and gotten lost in an overwhelming number of statistics?

Or maybe you were presented with so many specific details about a topic that you lost sight of the big picture?

It happens all the time and it's no surprise why. As a species, we are now producing 2.5 quintillion bytes of data every single day. That's one million times one trillion pieces of data, and it's too much for the human mind to keep up with.

That's why when it comes to presenting data and getting your point across, I've got two words for you: data visualization.

Data visualization is the secret art of translating your information into effective graphics, charts and visuals that your audience can understand, to help you make more convincing arguments during your presentations.

When people start to see the big picture (literally) instead of all the small numbers, they're more likely to pay attention to what you're saying.

The benefits of using data visualization in your presentations

When done properly, data visualization has three core benefits:

1. Increases the clarity of your message.

2. Increases people’s confidence in your proposals and conclusions.

3. Creates interesting talking points out of otherwise overwhelming amounts of information.

That’s why if you plan on using data to inform or persuade during your next presentation, it’s worth taking the time to create clear data visualizations to back up your points.

But how do you do that? Here are three general data visualization techniques you can use to create clear graphics and visuals out of almost any type of data you have.


How to use data visualization:
1. Translate big numbers into tangible objects
2. Add a visual graph to your projects
3. Compare your number to historical, future or comparative figures


Rule #1: Translate big numbers into tangible objects

Large numbers can be hard for your audience to relate to. This is especially true if you are presenting numbers in the billions and trillions. While everyone knows that 1 billion or trillion is a large number, it’s too big for your audience to connect with on an emotional level.

The first rule of creating effective data visualizations is to break your large numbers down to some tangible unit that your audience can grasp like miles, pounds, length, height, etc. The reason this works so well is it translates your vague number into something that everyone can visualize.

For example, the U.S. National Deficit in 2018 was $21.6 trillion dollars. While $21.6 trillion is big, how big is it really?

If your point is that this is an extremely large number, here are two different ways you could try to break that number down into a more tangible number your audience can appreciate.

Method #1: Break it down by the length of U.S. $100 bills

compare to 100 dollar US bill

The U.S. $100 bill is just over 6 inches long. Translated into $21.6 trillion dollars, that equates to 20.9 million miles of U.S. $100 bills lined up end to end. That is enough to wrap around the planet approximately 842 times.

Method #2: Divide the number by the world population of 7.7 billion

divide by world population

$21.6 trillion divided by the world population of 7.7 billion is $2,805. That’s like the U.S. government owing every man, woman and child on the planet a check for $2,805.00 in 2018.

Rule #2: Add a visual graphic to your projects

If you are presenting dates, times or steps to a process, explain your project using a Gantt chart or timeline to visualize your data. The reason this data visualization technique works so well, is it makes your overall project easier to understand and digest in comparison to simply listing your dates out in a table or text box. Here's an example so you can see for yourself:

add a visual graphic

In the picture above, notice how much clearer the project is when presented in a visual graphic instead of a table. That gives your audience a spatial awareness of your project, allowing everyone to more fully understand how your project will progress.

Rule #3: Compare your number to historical, future or comparative figures

If you have a specific number or statistic you want to present, you can make your number more impactful by comparing it to something to give it context. The reason that this data visualization technique works so well is that a number by itself doesn’t mean much without context.

For example, having quarterly sales of $4.5 million doesn’t mean much unless you compare it something. Notice how in the chart on the left, $4.5 million is a year on year decrease in sales, while on the right it is a year on year increase. It all depends on your reference.

add a visual graphic

When you are looking to give your numbers context, the three easiest pieces of data you can use are:

●  A future forecast - comparing how you did against your projections.
●  Historical figures - comparing how you did against your historical, past performance.
●  Your competitors - comparing how you did against your competitors over the same time period.

To recap, here are the three most effective data visualization techniques you can use to deliver presentations that people understand and remember: compare to a real object, include a visual, and give context to your numbers. Try using one or more of these techniques in your next presentation. The clearer your data visualizations, the easier it will be to inform and educate your audience.

Related content:

How to Make Project Plan Presentations for Clients and Execs

Kick-off Project Planning with a High-Level Schedule

How to Make Gantt Charts and Timelines on a Mac


Taylor Croonquist
Taylor Croonquist is the co-founder of Nuts & Bolts Speed Training, a PowerPoint speed training website helping busy professionals crush their daily PowerPoint tasks and make it to Happy Hour. Prior to Nuts & Bolts, Taylor lived and worked in China for 10 years in finance and consulting. When he’s not busy crafting PowerPoint training, you can find him traveling the world and scuba diving.







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

Data Visualization: best practices, tools, trends


Before data visualization, reams of data were compiled monthly for key executives in the form of “blue books” which organized and presented statistics, metrics and other information in lists and tables. Information in this format was difficult to access and interpret.

Executive Information Systems augmented the blue books with higher accuracy and more useable information graphically presented in an up-to-date dashboard rather than lists and tables. But these systems were costly, often requiring IS staff for their implementation and support. Recently, innovations in desktop and cloud applications have enabled users with modest skills to access and create meaningful reports and presentations due to these new data visualization software tools.

This article shares best practices and new trends in data visualization techniques, while also discussing key criteria for choosing the right visual software.

Gantt Chart for Mac

Data visualization software will improve the content, quality and impact of your reports, and presentations created using data visualization tools will impress your customers, colleagues and partners.

Best practices and new trends in data visualization

Behind the scenes, you are able to access databases, spreadsheets, and applications to craft visually meaningful representations of that data. How do you ensure that the information is actually received as intended? Experts and experience advise us:

  • Know your audience’s comfort level with new, visual technologies and scale the visuals you use accordingly.
  • Optimize the visuals for specific content – e.g. bar charts for comparisons; pie or waterfall charts for displaying composition; timelines for events or related developments; infographics for complex relationships based on interactions or reactions revealing trends, patterns, outliers, clusters.
  • Keep formatting simple and consistent throughout the presentation or document. Be mindful of unnecessary text, illustrations or ornamentations such as drop shadows, gradients, and 3D effects, which only make the visual harder to follow.
  • Use colors to add meaning or draw the eye quickly to specific areas of interest.
  • Organize data in a logical, intuitive way to avoid misinterpretation. Categories displayed sequentially, alphabetically or by value will guide readers through the visual and help them process the data faster.
  • Prompt others’ participation with interactive maps, allowing valuable data to be recorded.
  • Employ the variety of new and powerful data visualization tools to create informative, lasting presentations.
Gantt Chart for Mac

Choosing the best data visualization tools

A quick search of “data visualization software” yields thousands of results, and sorting through them can become overwhelming. As there’s no one-size-fits-all solution, professionals can use a few key criteria to quickly determine what visual tool would fit them or their organization best.

1. Skill level needed

Many data visualization programs may have astounding capabilities, but they can take years to master, some even requiring computer programming skills. When evaluating such tools, it is important to consider the users’ skillsets first. In most cases, a simpler tool, with fewer features but an intuitive interface, will provide far better results than complicated software that no one fully understands.

2. Desktop vs. web-based

Web tools are easily accessible from anywhere but may lack in functionalities and data storage capabilities, while desktop versions are usually richer in features, but they can be limited by the hardware they are run on. In the case of desktop apps, it is important to check whether they operate on Mac or Windows systems, or if they require Java.

3. Data import capabilities

Nothing kills the momentum like having to type in rows after rows of data for hours only to create a graphic. The ability to connect to and import information from other sources is key in data visualization.

4. Customization capabilities

Out-of-the-box visuals don’t always provide the best overview of the data. Some data visualization tools allow users to fully personalize the look and feel of their charts and graphs. While this is a big plus, professionals might want to make sure that enhanced customization doesn’t come at the cost of usability.

5. General-use vs. industry-specific

Some tools are designed to serve multiple purposes and are able to create a large variety of visuals, while others may be more specialized for a specific industry, role, or line of business. Professionals will need to decide if they’d prefer the adaptability of a general-use tool or the personalized approach of an industry-specific app.

For instance, project managers and planners will rarely use – if ever – all the graphs, charts and maps provided by multi-purpose software. Instead, they may resonate much better with a simple, tailored tool that helps them quickly generate timelines and Gantt charts to present proposals, plans or reports in a clear, appealing manner.

Gantt Chart for Mac

Simple tools to help visualize plans or events

Professionals who need to present a series of tasks or activities in a visual way can use lightweight timeline and Gantt chart makers such as the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in or its online equivalent. The two data visualization tools were designed to be simple and intuitive so that users can get started right away, without having to learn intricate functions. Both apps can import their data from other sources and instantly turn it into a meaningful timeline, which can then be fully customized and updated easily.

  • Office Timeline Add-in is a feature-rich desktop tool optimized for Windows systems. It plugs into PowerPoint and allows users to build, revise and share their visuals right from within the familiar presentation tool. Try Plus Edition for free.

  • Office Timeline Online is a flexible online data visualization tool that works on any operating system, including Mac. It enables professionals to build Gantt charts directly in their browser, access them from anywhere, and update them on the fly. Once ready, the visuals can be saved as images or as native PowerPoint slides to be used in presentations. Make timelines online now.

Using the right data visualization tools for presentations or reports, professionals can quickly turn complex data into easily-digestible graphics that will impress clients, colleagues and partners.


Useful Resources:

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

Make Litigation Timelines in PowerPoint

Half my family are attorneys, so how I became a software developer is a bit of an oddity. Regardless, since my focus is on presentation software, it didn’t take long for me to think about trial software and their presentation needs for litigation, mediation or defense.

I have been told that timelines are the preferred visual for attorneys and legal teams who need to chronologically demonstrate the facts and events of their case, as a means of supporting their oral arguments. I have also been told that it is critical that these timeline visuals are easy-to-understand, because complex timelines risk diminishing the juror’s retention rate. This seems to be a consistent theme across all types of cases from business litigation to personal injury litigation, and also across the various legal forums from the mediator’s office to the courtroom.

I started to wonder about software that could help make their legal presentations, particularly their opening and closing statements, much easier for jurors and mediators to understand, and therefore more persuasive and more memorable.

hours and minutes litigation timeline

Although I don’t know much about legal presentation strategies, I do understand how people process information and how important it would be for litigators to properly present the timing of events and facts which form the foundation of a case. I also understand that litigators and legal teams sometimes struggle to build a simple, presentable timeline of case events that will support their oral arguments. They tell me simple timeline visuals, rather than complex legal charts, are more helpful in getting judges, juries and mediators to understand their case evidence better, but also to remember it better.

When it comes to courtroom visuals, professional-looking litigation timelines have been difficult to create in house because attorneys and legal teams struggle with many of the same issues that my enterprise customers struggle with. They do not have simple and familiar software tools to make this work easy. There are some stand-alone case timeline applications available, however they are complicated, expensive and do not work well with Microsoft PowerPoint. Without natively leveraging a presentation platform like PowerPoint, they tend to produce unappealing graphics that are difficult for judges and juries to understand, and consequently many attorneys outsource this work to trial support companies.

As it is in the corporate world and on campus, PowerPoint seems also to be ubiquitous in the legal world. It is optimized for delivering effective presentations and so using it to create litigation timelines makes a lot of sense. The challenge for many litigators is that PowerPoint is a blank slate and there is no simple way to create litigation timelines. Office Timeline may solve the problem.

It is a timeline maker that is embedded into PowerPoint, so using it to create, manage and present compelling litigation timelines is familiar and quick. It starts with a simple wizard for entering your case events or importing those events directly from Excel. Then you click a button and your case information is turned into a PowerPoint timeline slide. Once created, it is easy to control and format the litigation timeline with colors, shapes, fonts and other styling preferences to best emphasize key events. It frees litigators from having to do tedious timeline construction and from having to outsource this work.

Office Timeline make legal timeline

Since my exposure to the legal world has been limited, I wanted to validate some of this thinking with an expert in the field. I contacted Sherry Wirth, President of The Exhibit Company, a Texas litigation design and trial support specialist firm. They have been doing this kind of thing for a long time and she told me that judge and juror retention will be significantly increased when visuals are used in conjunction with oral argument. Sherry said that her firm has created over 800 litigation timelines over the past 18 years. She said they are really effective because they are a road map for the jury, a path they can clearly follow which reinforces the key facts, evidence and testimony.

I asked about the tools her firm uses and she said they “have tried just about every timeline program out there and always defaulted to PowerPoint because it gives us ultimate flexibility and it is a platform that most of our clients are familiar with.” She also said that it is a painstaking process even for experienced PowerPoint designers to create timeline slides in PowerPoint. I asked her team to try Office Timeline to see if it would be valuable in the litigation industry. Here’s what she said. “It is a game changer, its simple and elegant interface lets you literally copy and paste your information from Excel and, with the push of a button, create a beautiful timeline.

hours and minutes litigation timeline

This validated my assumptions and our team is focusing on solving more challenges in the legal presentation space.

Download and try the free version of Office Timeline for PowerPoint.


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

Project Scorecards for Executive Meetings – 5 Things you Should Know

Clients and executives want to see project scorecards that are simple and visual. These are used communicate the status of a project and any potential risks associated with it. Here are 5 things to know when preparing for your next client or executive review.

Free Project Scorecard templates for PowerPoint

Click to view larger image

 1.     Communicate the right amount of information

Executive audiences do not need to know everything you know about the project.  The first step of any project presentation is to condense your project data to the most critical information. Typically a scorecard would be anchored by a visual timeline that shows the important milestones and tasks, as well as how far the project has progressed against its schedule. The timeline graphic should be accompanied by metrics or commentary on budget, risks and any outstanding issues. Since executives have limited time, your project scorecard should avoid any complicated charts or lists. The goal is for your audience to understand the health of a project in a limited amount of time.

2.     Present it in the right format

Enterprise customers and clients want to see project scorecards in formats they are familiar with. It is important to deliver your scorecard in a format that is easily accessible to them and something that could be forwarded or easily shared with others. Requiring executives to log into project management systems or to use proprietary tools for viewing project scorecards will limit the effectiveness of your report. Rather, select a format this is pervasive across the enterprise. Doing so will keep your project scorecard easily accessible.

 3.     Make it easy for others to contribute

Create your project scorecard with tools that other team members and stakeholders can easily use. Projects are collaborative efforts with many stakeholders, and they will want to contribute to your scorecard or edit it.  Executives may want to roll-up your scorecard up into their higher-level business reviews, clients may want to move a critical milestone on the timeline, and team members may want update the project schedule. Successful scorecards are not static but rather a continuously updated record of the project. Making it easy for others to contribute to your project report will be important to it success.

 4.     Leverage templates to get started

Using tools that are pervasive across your organization makes a lot of sense, so does using templates to get started. At a minimum templates are a good source of ideas. Browsing free PowerPoint templatesfree timelines or free Gantt charts should give you plenty of ideas on how to design the most important project visual for your scorecard. Additionally, if you find something you like, instead of building something from scratch, you can use that template to quickly create the project visual that will anchor your scorecard.

 5.     Present the right metrics

The most important metric in any project is a time vs. schedule metric and that is what the timeline is for.  Once you have created a Gantt chart to show clients or executives time vs. schedule progress, you should surround it with other key metrics. The next most relevant scorecard items may be a budget or a financial metric and a status or risk metric.  After that metrics vary greatly and tend to be unique and very specific for each project and organization. It is not necessary to show every project metric in an executive project review but your scorecard should include the most relevant ones.


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