3 Free PowerPoint Tools for Better Presentations

PowerPoint is one of the most popular presentation platforms to date, being widely used for a variety of communication purposes, both in business and beyond. Although it offers a reliable host of features to produce visual support for group presentations, it may sometimes come short if you aim to go beyond its traditional bullet-heavy slides.

Fortunately, numerous PowerPoint plugins and free tools have been developed to help users to break the conventional mold and create more engaging slides in a faster and easier way. We’ve taken the time to research some of the most innovative options out there and put together a list of 3 exciting PowerPoint tools that are available for free.

So, if you want to shake things up and connect with your audience in new ways, consider using one of these solutions that will help you nail your presentation and interactively communicate key ideas:

  1. PowerPoint Designer
  2. Presenter Coach
  3. Office Timeline

Let’s have a closer look at each of them.

1. PowerPoint Designer (Design Ideas)

PowerPoint Designer slide example

Image source: Microsoft

General Overview

  • Perfect for those who want to save time searching for the right layout or visual elements to spice up their presentations, PowerPoint Designer is a subscriber-only Microsoft 365 feature that examines the content of their slide and automatically generates a series of design ideas to complement it.
  • To enable this feature (if never used before), PowerPoint will ask for the user’s permission.
  • Users can apply this feature only on certain slides by selecting the one they want to improve, and then clicking on the Design Ideas button found under the Design tab.

Availability & Compatibility

  • Available for both desktop and online PowerPoint versions
  • Compatible with both Windows and MacOS-running machines, Android and iOS devices (except smartphones) and on web (OneDrive and SharePoint Online files only)


  • Suggests professional and cohesive layouts, style themes and complementary color palettes based on the pictures, charts or tables that are detected on the slide.
  • Turns text (lists, timelines or processes) into clear SmartArt graphics.
  • Provides a varied library of icons to illustrate a range of key terms and concepts (with illustrations shown in different layouts).


  • For PowerPoint Online version, it won’t provide design suggestions for the slide if more than one person is editing a single slide at the same time.

2. Presenter Coach

Presenter Coach Rehearsal Report Example

Image source: Microsoft

General Overview

  • Presenter Coach is an AI-powered, cloud-enhanced feature in Microsoft 365 that helps users rehearse their slide show and prepare in private to deliver a fluent, engaging and structured speech when presenting their slides to the audience.
  • An effective training tool for improving presentation and public speaking skills

Availability & Compatibility

  • Available on web, it’s compatible with Microsoft Edge version 15 or later, Chrome version 52 or later, and Firefox version 52 or later.


  • When users set their presentation into rehearsal mode, it evaluates their pacing, pitch, use of filler words, euphemisms or profanity, informal speech, and culturally sensitive terms, and provides on-screen feedback as they speak on how to improve these aspects.
  • It even detects and signals when users are being overly wordy or simply reading off their slide.
  • At the end of the rehearsal season, it compiles and delivers a detailed report with metrics and recommendations for additional practice.


  • Currently, it detects only English (in terms of spoken and Office user interface language).
  • It works best with only one speaker rehearsing at a time.

3. Office Timeline

PowerPoint Slide Made with Office Timeline

General Overview

  • Available as a free desktop add-in and web application, it is a third-party tool that helps you create professional and presentation-ready timelines, Gantt charts and roadmaps for project planning and tracking purposes.
  • It’s a reliable tool for project managers, marketers, IT professionals and knowledge workers.

Availability & Compatibility

  • Available for all versions of PowerPoint and Office 365
  • The desktop add-in is seamlessly integrated into PowerPoint and is compatible with Windows-running machines.
  • The online app allows both Windows and Mac users to create graphics as PowerPoint slides directly in their browser.


  • Smart layout engine that automatically turns your input into beautiful, interactive PowerPoint slides that can be customized, updated and shared with a few clicks
  • Helps you build your visuals from scratch, by importing your data (from Excel, MS Project, Smartsheet, and Wrike) or by using one of the pre-built templates from the gallery. You can sync your visual to the data file to update the timeline in seconds as your project progresses. 
  • Features a drag & drop interface and powerful functionalities (colors and shapes, task duration, percentage complete, status indicators, swimlanes) that enables the easy yet rich customization of your graphics.
  • Allows you to save your work as a PowerPoint slide or an image file; the web-based app also helps you share your work as a view-only link or as an editable slide.


  • The number of templates offered by the free version is limited in comparison to the paid editions of the tool.
  • The graphics generated using free version of the online application are watermarked; for the add-in, your timeline is limited to 10 rows of data.


PowerPoint has been a favorite go-to presentation maker for years since its breakthrough on the market, but its prevalence has made slides all too routine and difficult to hold the audience’s attention. The good news is that many complementary tools have been developed to harness its potential and we’ve selected three of the most useful and original ones to consider.

With this blog post, we hope that we’ve inspired a new perspective on how to enhance your PowerPoint experience and take your presentation to the next level.

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.


How to spend your day when you Work From Home

Among the numerous side effects of the coronavirus outbreak is a change in the way we work, with many of us being required to shift from an office setup to a work-from-home lifestyle. While some companies may use this state of affairs as an opportunity to start building a culture that nurtures more work flexibility, the regular nine-to-five workers might encounter difficulties in getting accustomed to the new circumstances.

Although the idea of remote work seems attractive (performing your tasks in a cozy makeshift quarantine bunker, sweatpants on), the lack of stimulation caused by human interactions can take a toll on our productivity and creativity. So, we created this blog post, which provides a series of recommendations on how to spend a day when working from home to get the best results; you’ll also find a practical work planner to help you transform them into a daily routine. Bonus: at the end, we’ve included insights from the leadership team at Office Timeline, who have been working from home for years and gained some valuable experience they’d like to share.

Tips and tricks for a more effective work-at-home day

1. Start early

Researchers have shown that our brains are most active and ready to get into gears right after we wake up. Furthermore, psychologist specializing in human motivation Rod Friedman argues that the first three hours of our day are the most valuable for maximized productivity. Hence, don’t snooze that alarm clock and don’t prolong your breakfast unnecessarily as that morning sluggishness will seep into your day. Instead, wake up first thing in the morning, put on that pot of coffee and dive into your to-do list (that you prepared the day before) as soon as possible so you can make the best out of those three golden hours. It will fuel your motivation and ensure a steady progress throughout the day.

2. Get prepped as if you’re going to the office

Since you’re working from home, you might be tempted to skip the showering-getting dressed routine (yes, we know, sweatpants are really comfortable). However, that precise routine helps make the transition from your pillow to your computer less jarring and puts you into a more energized state of mind. Plus, practicing this habit will make it easier for you when things return to normal (assuming that life will ever be the same after this lockdown). So, do all the things you would do to prepare for a day at the office because it activates a mental association with the idea of work and can make you more productive.

3. Schedule calls and meetings in the afternoon

Most of us are groggy in the morning and need a bit of time to adjust to the new day ahead. Having recommended that you get ready and started as early as you can, it only makes sense that you shouldn’t distract yourself from focused work with calls that might last longer than expected. So, start with the “solo” tasks in the morning and save the collaborative ones for later – when you’ve officially woken up, your voice is not croaky, and you’re all dressed up for “the official” meetings.

4. Create a work schedule to structure your day

Since we’ve suggested above that you group solitary tasks in the morning and the collaborative work for later, structuring your whole workday will provide further clarity and efficiency in managing your time. Creating a plan of what to do and when to do it over the course of your day will help you stay on track and keep focus. Use online calendars, personal reminders and events or a visual timeline to break up your work and pace yourself in cranking through it.

To help you get started, we’ve used the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in to design a template for a Work from Home day planner that you can download for free. Seamlessly integrated into PowerPoint, Office Timeline is a lightweight yet powerful timeline maker which lets you easily generate and update accurate schedules. Choose from dozens of smart templates and use the tool’s various functionalities (timeband scale in hours and minutes, task duration, swimlanes) to create customized plans that you can update on the fly when things change. You can build your own work planner with the free version of the app, or explore the Pro edition to produce more complex visuals with swimlanes like this WFH daily schedule:

Work from Home daily schedule


5. Plan your work around the times when you’re most productive

Speaking of well-defined work schedules, an important aspect to consider when planning your to-do list is your productivity pace. It’s natural for your motivation to fluctuate throughout the day, nobody can sprint through their tasks from morning to evening. Thus, pay attention to yourself and identify the ebb and flow of your efficiency so you can capitalize on it and better organize your work timeline around it. Keep the more difficult tasks for your productivity peak and use the slower moments of your day to take care of the easier ones.

6. Use a dedicated workspace

Just because you’re away from your regular office, it doesn’t mean you can’t have one at home. Instead of slouching on the couch or in your bedroom (spaces associated with leisure time), choose a specific area in your home to work. It will help your brain better demarcate the type of activity you carry out, and it’s also beneficial for your posture.

7. Minimize distractions

In most cases, social media is the main culprit that diverts attention from the task at hand. It’s designed to be easily accessed, but that quick browse might turn into half an hour (if not longer) of wandering aimlessly online. When working from home, in a relaxing environment, with no one watching, you might forget about duties and let yourself sucked in. To reduce this risk, log out from all your social media accounts and remove their shortcuts from your browser. Another option would be for you to work primarily in a private browser window. With no autofill convenience whenever you perform a web search, it’s less likely that you’d take social breaks too often.

8. Take clear breaks

To avoid getting distracted from what needs to be done, you might think that not taking breaks at all is a good idea. But just as it goes for working in an office, taking five to relax is recommended for remote workers as well. However, rather than spending those breaks in front of your laptop/PC, use this time to get away from your desk, stretch or have a quick talk with a close one.

9. Set a definitive finish time

While some might struggle to keep going through their to-do list, others might get immersed into their work so much as to lose track of time. At the office, your colleagues’ preparations to leave at the end of business hours remind you that it’s time for you to do the same, whereas at home there’s no such “trigger”. To avoid getting so caught up in your activities that you forget to “clock out”, set an alarm to mark the end of your business day. This way, you start saving your work and allow yourself to enjoy the evening. After all, you have a work-life balance to keep.

10. Plan out on what you’ll be working ahead of time

With your workday over, take a couple of minutes to plan the activities for the upcoming one(s). Of course, it’s possible for things to change, however having a general overview of what is next on your to-do list saves you time and effort in figuring out what you need to be doing in that future moment. Committing to an agenda that outlines your assignments before you begin will make it more “official” when you actually get started on it.

Insights from our CEO

Here at Office Timeline, we take working from home seriously – and we’ve been doing it for years. We work in distributed teams across the US and Europe and could recognize our voices even in a bar full of people playing beer pong. I'd be more than happy to share some of the lessons we’ve learned over the years, hoping you can avoid our mistakes:

  • Control your chattiness. Because you spend a lot of time with no one to talk to, that really makes you want to have an in-depth conversation with basically anyone: the delivery guy, the cashier at the store, the pharmacist. Observe this urge, contain yourself and let these poor people get on with their jobs.
  • Cover your webcam. It’s easy to forget you have an electronic eye that watches everything you do and everything you wear (or don’t), so do yourself a favor and put a piece of dark tape over it. Better safe than sorry.
  • Don’t eat into your microphone. We all get a little hungry sometimes, especially during the afternoons when most conference calls tend to happen. But nobody wants to hear you constantly snacking while they’re trying to have a conversation. It’s too distracting for them and probably not very healthy for you.
  • Get a pet to keep you company. If being alone is driving you crazy, consider adopting a pet; just make sure you understand this is a long-term commitment. Our team members have a variety of companions – mostly cats and dogs, but also fish, parrots or even squirrels – who are more than welcomed to join our team meetings.

Tim Stumbles

Tim Stumbles
CEO and Co-Founder
Office Timeline


How we spend our days is how we spend our life, it is said. During uncertain times that are marked by a sense of instability and chaos, adding structure to our workdays may seem insignificant, but it can actually go a long way. Working from home turns us into managers of our own time and, with a bit of discipline and a clear timeline of what needs to be done, we can make the most of it.

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.


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


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.


What to do when plans change

Change management

How to keep projects on track when plans change

Change is certain, progress is not. As an inevitable part of any process, change directly influences a project’s life cycle and chances of success. This is why project managers need to consider this factor as early as possible, so they know what to do when plans change and, thus, keep the project on track in spite of it. In other words - following the adage ”prevention is better than cure”, building a change control system in advance is the best way to handle the actual occurring modifications.

However, there are times when unprecedented or unpredictable circumstances interfere and might take even the most prepared PMs by surprise. Hence, we created this blog post to provide guidance on how you can establish a change management process (if your company doesn’t already have one) and take the best action to ensure project delivery.

Effective change control - steps to take when plans change

Change control is a formal process that provides a set of specified measures which project teams can use to adapt the scope of the project when modifications occur. Anything that would impact the development and quality of a project counts as an element of change (time, budget, workforce etc.).

With parameters varying from one project to another, it is natural that change management would require different courses of action specific to each case. However, a straightforward and efficient change control process typically includes the following steps:

  1. Defining the change request
  2. Assessing the change request
  3. Proposing recommended ways to proceed
  4. Final decision – the approval or declination of the request

1. Defining the change request

A change request is the documentation used to solicit an alteration and can be as simple as an email or as complex as a formal document. The one who initiates the actual request needs to explain it so that all parties involved understand it well enough to define it. Here are the supporting elements of a change request:

  • Actual request – a statement of the need that clearly outlines the change item for the project team to analyze;
  • Reason for the request - the customer and business impact caused if the request is not accepted or completed;
  • Conditions of success - the effects and results expected from the change request;
  • Expected completion – an expected due date for the item, provided by the requester not as an ultimate deadline, but as a reference point for the project team to consider when defining options;
  • Expected value – the explanation for why the request is necessary.

2. Assessing the change request

Once the request is documented, it is then submitted to the project team for review. The submittal can be done either informally (through email) or formally (memo or meeting). The former method is usually employed for simple requests, whereas the latter provides the proper context for complex requests to be reviewed, questions to be asked and decisions to be facilitated.

This step actually involves two phases:

  • the clear presentation of the request with a focus on project budget regarding materials, any relevant permit requirements, man-hours, time lost/gained; during this meeting the expected turnaround time should also be discussed and set.
  • the project team’s review followed by discussions and feedback on the request.

3. Proposing recommended ways to proceed

The next step requires project teams to define at least two viable options based on the reviewed change request and create a response document. The document goes to the client, along with the data points below:

  • Option number and name
  • Proposed solution - suggesting how to respond to the change request; it can vary from a technical direction to the justification why this approach is put forward
  • Proposed timeline - the sequence of events and their estimated duration throughout the change process; it helps the customer leverage when deciding which of the options presented by the team is optimal.
  • Impacts to the project – an essential part of the response document, it explains the costs, the impact on the timeline and resources, and potential quality results. Does the team have to get additional people? Do the existing resources need to add or remove time on the project? All of these aspects should be outlined clearly so that the customer can make an informed decision.
  • Expiration date for proposed changes – setting a timeframe for the client to respond to the options presented. This helps create urgency in the process.

4. Final decision – the shareholders’ approval or declination of the request

The shareholders provide feedback on the submitted change control response document. Depending on whether the shareholders’ decision has been a timely or a delayed one, the following scenarios can result:

  • Timely feedback (observing the timeframe specified in the Change Control Response document) – the shareholders communicate which of the suggested options is optimal and its implementation begins, with the right teams being delegated to carry out the corresponding tasks. If none of the recommendations are found viable, the whole process restarts.
  • Delayed feedback (exceeding the specified timeframe) – the project team re-evaluates the initial plan to determine if too much development has occurred to support the recommendations, or if the delay has caused any other impacts. Based on the findings, the Change Control Response document is updated or even redone (all of the above steps are replicated with new proposals).

No matter which of the two cases above applies, the final decision needs to be unanimously approved so that an official change management process be instated and endorsed along the way.

Supporting tools and components for enabling change control processes

To ensure the consistent and effective management of change and expectations, a project manager often relies on supporting activities and tools. Given the variety of existing businesses and projects, it’s only natural that a diverse range of structures and frameworks be developed for this purpose.

However, some of the most suitable ones in this respect are:

  • Product or business roadmaps
  • Readiness assessments
  • Continuous improvement plans
  • Business cases
  • Training tutorials
  • Measurement and analytics reports

Choosing the right change management tool makes this process easier and more streamlined. So, when researching which of the available ones is best, you should make sure it will allow you to:

  • Create a clear timeline of what needs to be done, when and by whom
  • Update the existing workflow with new data in real time when necessary
  • Show duration of tasks and track their progress
  • Customize the plan to reflect the specifics of your project
  • Easily share and communicate the established agenda


During times of change, swift adaptation to the evolving context and clear communication of the measures required to sustain re-adjustment and progress become key. An effective change control process in place and a tool that saves you time, allows you to document the steps along the way and quickly update changing plans will make this possible.

Natively built in PowerPoint, the Office Timeline add-in is a simple-to-use yet powerful project management tool which lets you automatically transform complex data into presentation-ready timelines and roadmaps. Use its varied gallery of templates and customizing functionalities to create clear yet content-rich visuals, and its intuitive interface to update them when plans change. Try out its free version to experience the easiness with which timelines come to life, or discover the Pro Edition, which unlocks extra features for more sophisticated results.

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.


Albert Einstein Timeline

Albert Einstein Timeline


Every year on the 14th of March, the world celebrates the most prominent name in modern physics, whose research would lead to the discovery of atomic energy.

Born in Ulm, Württemberg, Germany, Albert Einstein was brought up in a secular Jewish family, along with his younger sister Maja. An interesting fact about him is that he didn’t start talking until the age of two. His parents had him undergo several medical examinations, but the doctors were unable to find any physical cause for it. When young Albert eventually began uttering words, his speech was marred by frequent pauses, as though he always paid great care when he spoke.

Einstein’s years were marked by hardships: failed business dealings forced his family to relocate to Switzerland where he was confronted with extremely few career prospects. Disheartened, but not discouraged, he writes: “Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance, you must keep moving”.

Fortune does eventually offer Einstein some respite in 1902 when he lands a clerk job at a patent office in Bern, Switzerland’s capital. It is believed that the type of clerical work done there helped him become adept at quickly spotting patterns while also affording him the time to focus on his research.

His lucky break comes in 1905 – the “miracle year” – when four major research papers signed by Einstein are published, completely altering the course of modern physics. One of them is “Does the Inertia of a Body Depend Upon Its Energy Content?” from which the special relativity theory and the legendary equation E=mc2 originate.

For anyone else, the achievements of the “miracle year” might have been enough to comfortably ride the glory train towards a smooth, carefree retirement, but not for Einstein. Recognizing a critical flaw in his special relativity theory – the fact that it does not account for acceleration or gravity - he starts working on a new, more comprehensive one - general relativity – which he completes in 1915.

What general relativity brings to the table is a new definition of gravity. Unlike Sir Isaac Newton’s model, Einstein’s thesis states that high mass objects warp time and space around them, causing a curvature. Putting advanced mathematics aside, the simplest way to picture it is a person jumping on a trampoline with marbles scattered randomly across its surface. Every descent of the jumper causes a depression in the fabric, drawing all the marbles towards the gap.

Naturally, the scientific community originally regarded it as outlandish and it did take them some time to come around. However, it was another important milestone in Albert Einstein’s ascension to fame that culminated with the position of director of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics, which he held between 1913 and 1933.

His final years were spent almost entirely in isolation in Princeton, the Mecca of scientists at the time. Here, Einstein would continue to work tirelessly on a grand unified field theory where all the laws of physics would fit seamlessly into a single framework. An article published by him in Scientific American in 1950 attempts to map this concept but remains incomplete due to the enigmatic “strong force” that would forever elude him.

Einstein passed away in 1955 from an abdominal aortic aneurysm at the University Medical Center at Princeton, age 76. He declines a surgical intervention, preferring to go on his own terms: “It is tasteless to prolong life artificially. I have done my share, it is time to go. I will do it elegantly”. Albert Einstein’s name will forever go down in history as a symbol for creative thinking, dedication, perseverance in the face of overwhelming odds and unflinching integrity.

The Albert Einstein Timeline was created with the Office Timeline PowerPoint add-in, a powerful and simple to use project management utility able to transform complex data into an appealing visual representation within minutes. Try out the free version or explore the Pro Edition, which packs extra features for those who need more sophisticated applications. You can download the Albert Einstein timeline as a PowerPoint file which contains two slides, a condensed version and a more detailed one. Have a happy Einstein Day!

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.