How to Make a Project Plan Presentation for Clients and Stakeholders

Updated on 14 June 2020

Project presentation is the cornerstone of every successful enterprise and a fundamental skill every project manager should master. Whether it’s part of a stakeholder engagement plan or you’re writing an executive summary to update management on your progress, success is highly dependent on effective communication. Our article aims to showcase a few project evaluation and review techniques that you can employ to break down the barriers of business communication.

Product Development Roadmap

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Simplify your presentation with high-level project visuals

A presentation for project stakeholders should be a broad, high-level overview to pique their curiosity rather than complex and uninspiring sets of data that only make sense to the speaker. However tempting it might be to rehash and recycle the detailed project charter that you’ve worked so hard on, especially when you’re pressed for time, don’t! Presenting data visually as a project roadmap to clients and executives adds context to facilitate understanding and allows you to only go into specifics upon request.

Microsoft Project is most often the project management software of choice in the planning phase. Few other project management tools are this well optimized for navigating the complexity of enmeshed tasks, milestones and events, or for creating deep dives. On the other hand, when it comes to generating high-level project visuals, its graphical representations, like the Gantt chart example below, are not well suited for a meeting with the project stakeholders.

Microsoft Project Gantt chart

An exec-level project review should summarize the strategic planning process and showcase its progress in a visually appealing manner. Remember: the challenge consists of making the information easy to digest and ensuring that audiences understand the business implications.

Creating a graphical representation of data

The best option for outlining a project’s plan is to create a workflow diagram that correlates the tasks with the critical milestones, as shown in the Gantt chart example below:

PowerPoint Gantt chart template

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Presenting the project roadmap in this manner helps your stakeholders quickly see the scheduled tasks, as well as their duration, sequences and other task dependencies, all of which define the critical path. Furthermore, connecting the project activities (tasks) with the project events (milestones) offers clients and execs more insight, which translates to better management decisions.

Timeline vs Gantt Chart

Two main techniques are often employed to chart the strategic planning process as a graphic: timelines and Gantt charts. At their core, project timelines typically encompass only the events (milestones) whereas Gantt charts tend to show just activities (tasks). However, as we’ve mentioned earlier, the ideal project presentation should feature a blend of both tasks and milestones. For clarity purposes, you can opt for a single unified graph like a swimlane diagram that splits up these tasks and milestone according to their specific project life cycle phase.

Swimlane diagram template

EXPLORE AND DOWNLOAD TEMPLATE


Next, let’s take a comparative look at two frequently used alternatives for visually rendering a project charter, Excel and PowerPoint. We will explain how to make a Gantt chart in Excel using a bar graph, and how to make an Excel timeline using a scatter graph. We will also show you how to quickly make a single, unified Gantt chart + Timeline presentation in .PPTX by using our add-in for PowerPoint, Office Timeline.

Organizing your project in Excel

Whether or not you’re going to create the Gantt chart in Excel, this application from the Microsoft suite is a great place to start drafting the project schedule. More exactly, you will need to create the Work Breakdown Structure (WBS) by breaking down the project into smaller pieces of work – the tasks. Make an Excel project management template that you can reuse, then list each of the tasks on the data table in the correct sequence. The tasks will form the project Gantt chart and their order will determine the project schedule.

Another important piece of the puzzle to integrate in your Excel project management template is the milestone section. Project milestones consist of all major deadlines your plan must achieve, and they form your Excel timeline. We have included a Work Breakdown Structure example below, for clarity purposes.

Excel Project Plan schedule

Note: Keep in mind that this is a high-level presentation aimed at executives and stakeholders, so it should not be overly complex. Consider trimming it down if the project schedule contains more than 20 tasks and 20 milestones, in order to facilitate understanding and keep the audience engaged.

Option 1: Making the Excel graphs

It’s worth noting that Excel is nowhere near as graphics-oriented as PowerPoint. The direct result is that your Excel Gantt charts and timelines will tend to look more like stacked bar graphs and, respectively, scatter charts.

Another drawback is that Excel doesn’t allow you to combine a Gantt chart (tasks) with a timeline (milestones) into a unified project roadmap. Therefore, you will need to create two separate visuals and combine them on one slide or present them individually. In order to do that, you will first need to make a Gantt chart showing the tasks of your project plan and then a timeline with your project milestones. Here’s how:

  • Step 1: Create a Gantt chart in Excel with the stacked bar chart function

Once you have your project schedule in Excel you will add the task data into an Excel stacked bar graph and then follow approximately 20+ formatting steps to transform it from a stacked bar chart into an Excel Gantt chart, which will end up looking something like the chart below. For detailed instructions, please check out our guide on how to make a Gantt chart in Excel.

Excel Gantt chart example

  • Step 2: Create a timeline in Excel using the scatter chart function

To create a timeline in Excel you will need to use a scatter chart. Add your data to the scatter chart then follow approximately 25 steps to format it so it looks like a timeline presentation, as shown below. If that’s easier, check out our easy-to-follow, step-by-step guide and a how-to video tutorial.

Excel timeline example

Note: However familiar and accessible this Microsoft application may be, there are certain limitations that make it less than ideal for project presentations, including:

  • No method to combine an Excel Gantt chart with a timeline. Executives and stakeholders should be able to view the tasks and milestones in conjunction with each other for better visibility into the critical deadlines and activities.
  • Making a project roadmapproject roadmap featuring a timeline or Gantt chart in Excel requires advanced operating skills. Converting Excel’s stacked and scatter charts into Gantt charts and timelines depends on properly following a specific sequence of formatting steps.
  • The resulting diagrams are not as visually appealing as a PowerPoint slide and considerably more difficult to share with everyone involved.

Option 2: Create the project roadmap as a native PowerPoint slide

So far, we have shown you how to make a Gantt chart in Excel and mix it with a timeline, in order to provide your stakeholders with a 2-part overview of your project schedule. Next, let’s take a look at the alternative: using a PowerPoint timeline maker with embedded Gantt chart functions to generate a slide with both graphics combined.

PowerPoint is perceived as a superior tool for building project presentations. Since it is a graphical application, it is designed for creating and communicating charts in a visual way. Additionally, since it’s a common tool in enterprises, PowerPoint is familiar to audiences, and slides can be easily shared. There are two main ways to build project slides in PowerPoint using our Office Timeline add-in:

  1. Create the Work Breakdown Structure template in Excel and import the data

Earlier in the article we have included a Work Breakdown Structure example made in Excel. The first option relies on using the import feature from Office Timeline and bring in the data tables with tasks and milestones. To import the project schedule you created in Excel, use the Office Timeline Pro wizard which will link to your project spreadsheet (or .MPP file, if you prefer Microsoft Project). Here’s a quick demo:

Import from Excel

There’s another reason to import the data from an Excel spreadsheet and that’s the sync feature. In short, since the PowerPoint slide is linked to a worksheet, it can be synchronized and updated with the click of a button when the spreadsheet data changes. Check out a brief synopsis of how sync works:

Sync with Excel

Note: For better visibility, Office Timeline also allows you to import tasks and milestones directly into swimlane templates.

  1. Use a Gantt chart or timeline template (swimlanes are also supported)

There are definitely advantages to importing the data file from an external application like Excel or Microsoft project. However, that isn’t your only option. Office Timeline comes with an extensive collection of professional templates that can easily adapt to a wide variety of different project types. These timeline templates are embedded in the add-in and there is also a free gallery with new ones added regularly, for your convenience.

Create timeline from template

Simply replace the default data with your own tasks and milestones, and Office Timeline generates the graphic for you.

Note: Customizing a timeline or Gantt chart template with your own data can be done at any time from the user-friendly and highly intuitive interface. Update it easily whenever there are changes in your project schedule, restyle it and share it with your team, all from within PowerPoint. It’s very flexible!

Conclusions

Writing an executive summary or stakeholder engagement plan is all about clarity, and the best way to achieve it is to complement the data with professional, visually appealing graphs. As you’re adding tasks and milestones to your project roadmap, it also becomes easier to trim the fat and focus on the game changers. This way, you’ll obtain an actionable and compelling high-level overview, rather than get tangled in the specifics.

If you regularly find yourself liaising with the management or your stakeholders and dread the thought spending hours creating presentations with the traditional tools in the Microsoft Office suite, then check out Office Timeline. Available as a free version, this handy project roadmap creation app can save you time and ensure you drive your point home without the drawback of an intimidating learning curve. For the more complex timelines, we recommend giving the Pro Edition a try.



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

📈 Project Scorecard for Executive Review

How to Create a Graphical Project Scorecard for Management Reviews.

Customers and Executives love to see a project scorecard as part of a project review.  This most often means it is presented on a PowerPoint slide in a dashboard format.   This article and video discusses how to quickly build a PowerPoint project scorecard around your project timeline as shown below.

Project Scorecard - how to make quickly make them in PowerPoint.,Why PowerPoint?

Executives and customers are most familiar with project reviews presented in PowerPoint.  They are experienced in reading these presentations, and know PowerPoint will force presenters into condensing their content into the most relevant information.  So they get a high-level summary of the business which enables them to make decisions quickly.

Why a Project Scorecard?

Since executive level presentations do not require deeply detailed project reports, they should be no more than 2-3 slides per project. Using a project scorecard is the most effective way to summarize project status at a high level to audiences such as project stakeholders, sponsors, clients and management.  Typically project scorecards are made up of metrics and commentary on various things like budget, accomplishments, risks and future actions, and all of these are anchored around a clear, up-to-date project timeline.

How to Make a Project Scorecard Easily in PowerPoint

Creating fresh and appealing visual project status reports or project presentations in PowerPoint is a time consuming effort for any project manager. Additionally, these presentations often need to be re-created, updated or edited on a weekly, or monthly rhythm, so finding tools that can quickly and easily create and manage this work saves time.

Office Timeline is a free timeline maker that creates and manages PowerPoint timelines for executive and customer project status meetings.  These timelines are created natively in PowerPoint so they can easily be integrated with a project status slide or pasted onto and existing project scorecard template.

The video below demonstrates how to quickly build the timeline and scorecard slide in the image above with Office Timeline.  It also demonstrates how to update your project timeline dashboard instantly and automatically with new information as your project progresses.  This makes updating the slide for reoccurring project reviews and executive presentations automatic.

Download Office Timeline Free Edition

Suggested Reading
Pasting timelines
Exceptional PowerPoint Add-Ons
How to quickly make a timeline


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

Quickly Build Gantt Charts in Excel

Project plans, reviews, and proposals often need to be presented to team, clients and executives.  Gantt charts and timelines are the proper way to communicate to these audiences.  Clients and executives, in particular, expect these Gantt charts and timelines to be graphical, visually appealing and easy to understand.  However, creating a Gantt chart in Excel has been challenging and time consuming.

This post and video will show you how to quickly turn timeline Excel data into a professional looking chart, like the one below, with the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in.Turn a Gantt chart in Excel into a PowerPoint slide

Using existing tools to create professional looking Gantt chart and timeline presentations has not been easy.  Project tools, like Microsoft Project, are intended for large scale project management.  They are complicated to learn and they produce overly complex Gantt charts and timelines which are not suited for high level customer and management presentations.

Unlike heavy-weight project tools, visual tools like Visio are better at creating graphical images like Gantt charts and timelines.  However, they are painful to use and lack “smarts” which automatically adjust images when project schedules need updating.

Excel is often the place that project plans and schedules are created.  Most professionals and project workers find it easy to do this.  Once they have their project planned or tracked, they then need to quickly turn that Excel data into a graphical chart that can presented as a project status report, proposal summary or action plan.  This work is automated by the light-weight timeline maker from Office Timeline.

Office Timeline will immediately turn a Gantt chart in Excel into a professional looking PowerPoint slide that is easy to share and present.  It automatically manages updates, so if plans or project schedules change you can quickly update your Gantt chart or timeline without having to make major edits.

How to quickly build a Gantt chart with Excel

Once you have your timeline in Excel or Gantt chart in Excel simply cut and paste it’s data into the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in.  This video shows how to do that.

Since PowerPoint has size limitations Office Timeline also provides the ability to customize spacing and sizing to maximize the space of your slide.  This is useful for a  Gantt chart in excel that has a long list of action items (tasks).  The video below shows how you can optimize your project slide if you need to present more.

Suggested Reading
Tutorial for making a Gantt chart with Excel 
Using Gantt diagrams for business planning
How to paste Excel schedules into PowerPoint
 

Steps for creating a Timeline in Excel



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

How to make a timeline easily

Updated on 25 September 2020

How to make a timeline

Are you in search of a project management software application that can render a Gantt chart, roadmap or timeline within minutes? Do you need to create a work breakdown schedule for your next venture that will positively ‘wow’ your execs and stakeholders, but haven’t honed your design skills yet? Have you already tried several PM tools that are just too complex and require you to start from scratch every single time? For those of you who recognize themselves in any of the descriptions above, we might have the solution to your challenges.

Read on to find out how Office Timeline can save project management professionals hours of their time while also generating visually impressive, top-notch roadmaps, swimlane diagrams and Gantt charts, even if they don’t have a degree in fine arts. But first, let’s try to answer this pressing question:

Do you REALLY need a dedicated timeline maker?

In all fairness, multi-functional project management applications that you can utilize as timeline makers already exist, right? Even Excel, Word and Microsoft Project include this feature! However, what you might find is that the process of creating a roadmap or a swimlane diagram this way is anything but easy.

For instance, if you want to learn more about how to make a timeline in Excel, or how to employ other traditional office apps for this purpose, then check out the links below or go to the Make timelines with your usual office tools page.

You’ll notice right off the bat that software applications not specifically designed for generating project visuals tend to lack templatization, feel clunky or unintuitive, and are anything but convenient. Time is a precious commodity and you just can’t afford to spend hours fiddling with the fonts or color scheme of a graphic that’ll probably be used as a one-off. Nonetheless, without the panache of attractive project visuals that allow your audience to make sense of the data, the meeting will quickly turn into another uninspiring snooze-fest.

To sum this up, the downsides of relying on generic project management software for your Gantt chart, roadmap and timeline needs are:

  • They feature limited or non-existing templates
  • They generally come with a steep learning curve
  • The process ends up being highly time consuming

Therefore, a dedicated Gantt chart and timeline maker like Office Timeline can be a project manager’s best friend and ace in the hole.

Why Office Timeline?

User experience played a major role in the development of this Gantt chart and timeline maker from its inception. Office Timeline was conceived as a PowerPoint add-in not just for the convenience of creating and presenting the project visuals using the same basic software. It also leverages the familiar controls and interface of the popular Microsoft Office suite app that’s been around for decades.

Moreover, it supports importing from external data sources often used in project management like Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet or Wrike, for extra flexibility. Finally, thanks to its wide array of fully customizable templates, the design work you’ve put in once can be adapted and repurposed easily.

But don’t just take our word for it

We talked about the advantages Office Timeline can bring to the table, but let’s actually see how it works and if it can rise to the occasion, shall we? Next, we’ll show you how to create a timeline from scratch in 5 easy steps using the Pro Edition of the add-in, so you can judge for yourself if this is the right timeline maker for you.

Note: Once installed, Office Timeline will show up on the PowerPoint ribbon tab and from there you can access the controls that make the magic happen.

Office Timeline menu


  1. Create new timeline
  2. From the ribbon tab, click the New button to get started and navigate to the Styles and Templates page.

    Office Timeline Create New button

    Note: If you already have your project data stored in a compatible external application, you can use the Import button instead of New.


  3. Pick a template
  4. From here, find a style or a template that matches your current category of project or follow your heart and go for the one that first catches your eye. You’ll be able to tailor it as you see fit anyhow in just a few moments. Once you’ve made up your mind, simply hit the Use Template button. For this guide, we chose a swimlane diagram template.

    Office Timeline styles and templates


  5. Set dates and duration for your tasks and milestones
  6. In the Data view, enter the key project milestones and tasks, then set their dates and durations. Once you pick a template, the list will be automatically populated with default values, so you can either remove and add your own, or edit them to match your project’s data. Notice that, because we’ve opted for swimlane diagram template, the milestones are already placed in individual lanes. You can also change the task or milestone design and color at this stage, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Hit the green Create button in the bottom right corner when you’re done.

    Office Timeline Data view


  7. Arrange the elements on your timeline
  8. Alright, you’ve got the ball rolling and a rough version of your timeline is on your PowerPoint slide, but it’s time to reorder and rearrange the items. Enter the Edit Timeline view and check out how easily you can move the elements with drag & drop style controls. You can also resize the timeband, swimlane headers and make more space on your slide.

    Office Timeline Edit Timeline view


  9. Style to perfection
  10. Still not happy with the size, shape or colors of the timeline elements? No worries, that’s what the Style Pane is for! Click on any item of the timeline and a menu with all the customization options will pop open on the right side of the PowerPoint window. Edits you make here take effect instantly on your graph and the menu changes according to the element you’ve selected.

    Office Timeline Style Pane


That’s it! Start with a template, add your data and style to perfection using intuitive drag & drop controls, and you’ve got yourself a timeline that would’ve taken hours of work otherwise.


Office Timeline project visual


Did we mention that you can also easily save it as a custom template and reuse it on your next projects? If you get stuck, you can always visit our video tutorials page where we cover all the important operations in more detail.

We believe that the best way to determine if a tool is right for you is to try it out, so we’re offering Office Timeline as a free version for download as well. Give it a go or check out the Pro Edition instead for a no-holds-barred experience and see for yourself just how much time you can save thanks to this intuitive add-on.

For those who want to benefit from the flexibility of the web and the familiarity of PowerPoint when creating important timelines, Office Timeline offers an online solution as well. Use our cloud-based timeline maker to quickly build and share beautiful PowerPoint slides right in your browser.



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

Quickly make a Pharmaceutical timeline slide in PowerPoint

Updated on 15 May 2020

Make Pharma timelines in PowerPoint

In clinical trials and Pharmaceutical research, high-level timelines and roadmaps that look and feel professional are considered instrumental. Why? The short answer is that research teams are often required to present – and explain – their progress and findings to audiences with varying degrees of scientific knowledge. 

These audiences consist of key stakeholders who make effective and time-sensitive decisions, so the way complex data is delivered and received can have a major impact on the future of the project. It goes without saying that integrating project timelines, Gantt charts and swimlane diagrams into a PowerPoint slide will considerably streamline any presentation.

This post aims to show you how quick and easy it is to build a clinical trial or Pharmaceutical research timeline using the Office Timeline free PowerPoint add-in. You will also see just how customizable these visuals are, and how you can update plans with just a couple of clicks.

Creating a Pharmaceutical timeline has always been painful

Historically speaking, creating timelines and Gantt charts that depict the discovery process and clinical trials has always represented a pain point in the Pharmaceutical industry. There are a number of applications designed specifically for project management in this field. 

However, the excessively complex diagrams they generate make them unsuitable, particularly when it comes to creating the high-level overviews required in board meetings with management or agency execs. Not to mention the learning curve that rivals a degree in biochemistry!

Alternatives exist, of course, in the form of Microsoft Project or Excel, which you might already be using for collating some research and patient info. Applications in this category do include some features for rendering graphical representations of data. 

Unfortunately, they end up being extremely time consuming due to limited automation and lack of templates designed exclusively for Pharmaceutical research roadmaps or clinical trial timelines. Complications increase tenfold whenever you need to update plans, to the point where it’s often easier to rebuild the timeline from scratch.

And, since you’ll probably want to use PowerPoint presentations to showcase your progress in meetings with your stakeholders, the lack of integrations is yet another spanner in the works. In short, the conventional options just aren’t great for presenting, sharing and collaborating on a timeline that’s ultimately designed to bridge the gap between researchers, managers and sponsors.

A smart PowerPoint add-in can solve these problems

What makes the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in different? It’s the ability to aptly address all of the aforementioned issues that make the existing options painful, perhaps even more so for the Pharma industry.

Lightweight yet robust, sporting a sleek and intuitive interface, the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in has everything you need to easily create clinical trial roadmaps and swimlane diagrams of drug research as native .PPTX slides. Not only that, but the slides can be edited and shared within minutes, facilitating communication and collaboration between all the teams involved. Let’s find out more.

How to use Office Timeline to build impressive Pharmaceutical timeline slides

Step 1: Get the add-in

Before you can enjoy the virtually limitless customization options and numerous pre-built templates, you’ll first need to have Office Timeline installed on your machine. You can download the trial version of the add-in from our website. After completing the installation, a new tab will appear in your PowerPoint menu (shown below). Congratulations, you’re on your way!

Office Timeline in PowerPoint


Step 2: Choose a template

The best place to start creating a timeline or Gantt chart are the built-in templates and styles created by our professional design team to accommodate a wide array of scenarios.

Select new template in Office Timeline

But that’s just the beginning. You can also find additional templates – including Pharma templates – in our free Gantt chart and timeline templates gallery or in this blog post. These templates are all completely free, easy to download and we’re constantly working to expand the list so check back regularly to see what’s new.


Step 3: Edit the data

Once you decide on a template, it’s incredibly easy and intuitive to modify the default milestones or tasks or delete them and add your own. Check out how quickly you can update a milestone name, shape, color and even its date directly from Edit Data menu:

Edit Data view in Office Timeline

If your patient or research data is already available in another application, you’ll be happy to know that the Office Timeline add-in allows you to import it directly, so you won’t have to type it in again. We support integrations with Excel, Microsoft Project, Smartsheet and Wrike:

Import from Excel in Office Timeline

Step 4: Style and design features

Visuals like the color theme used, the shape of the elements and their contrast against the backdrop play a major role in what you’ll highlight during the presentation and what you’d like to emphasize. The templates are a great place to start, but every single element of the graph can be customized separately as well. 

You can radically alter the default design of the timeband, milestones, tasks or swimlanes with just a couple of clicks, to bring in your own branding and breathe life into previously sterile sets of data:

Style Pane options in Office Timeline

Step 5: Share and collaborate

We cannot stress enough how vital communication and collaboration is in the Pharmaceutical industry, which is why the Office Timeline add-in integrates a feature for sharing your work via different channels. 

Emailing your roadmaps to team members and stakeholders as an image, PowerPoint slide, or even the entire .PPTX file is simple and can be done directly from the add-in’s interface. Check it out:

Share options in Office Timeline

To sum up

In terms of breaking down complex Pharmaceutical research and clinical trial data, the Office Timeline add-in is just what the doctor prescribed. Creating roadmaps and swimlane diagrams from scratch is a breeze, thanks to its clear interface and comprehensive list of dedicated templates

With Office Timeline, PowerPoint becomes a one-size-fits-all powerhouse of designing, updating, presenting and sharing timelines, all without the downside of a prohibitive learning curve. Download the 14-day trial to get started, after which you can continue to use the free version or take the next step with the extra features of the Pro Edition to wow your stakeholders and transform boardroom meetings into your favorite part of the day.


More resources



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