Partners in Performance Blog

PowerPoint Design Tips: How To Show Dates

When you must communicate a lot of dates in a presentation, how do you make them easy to understand without confusing your audience?

The easy way is to just list the dates in bullet point form. But this is not very effective.

Why? Because by listing the dates in bullet points, it’s not easy for the audience to find a date and be able to relate it to the other dates. So you might ask, does putting the dates in a table make it easier? At least it makes the dates easier to see, because they are all in one column. But it still doesn’t help the audience to tell how far they are from today or how the dates relate to each other.

To figure out better ways to communicate date-based information, we can look to what we learned in grade school. When we were in kindergarten, one of the key concepts we learned was the calendar. We had to learn how to tell the days of the month, days of the week and how they related to each other. Once we learned those concepts, we could easily relate to when tests were scheduled, when assignments were due, and, most importantly, when school was done for the summer!

Why not show date-based information as a calendar? We understand it instantly because it is familiar to us. This is one of the tips I’ll be demonstrating in my upcoming webinar on April 11th. You’ll see how clear the information is in a calendar format and how easy it is to create in PowerPoint.

Here are two examples, one with dates listed as bullet points. The other dates are shown on a calendar:

Another concept we learned in grade school gives us a second way to more visually show date-based information. In history class we created timelines to represent when events happened in a certain period we are studying. Perhaps it was when the first explorers arrived in the land, when they first settled the land, and when they first encountered the native people. We plotted a timeline that gave us a sense of how far the events were from each other.

If we have project-based information, using a timeline diagram can be a great way for people to instantly understand the timing of key tasks in the project.

Can we make time-based information easier to understand? We certainly can.

Today’s guest post is by Dave Paradi who will be my guest presenter on April 11th for our  webinar on ’20 Expert Tips To Create Persuasive PowerPoint Slides’ from 12:00 to 1:00 EDT. Join us and you will see these two expert-level tips, along with at least 18 other ideas you will be able to apply immediately to increase the effectiveness of your presentations.

This entry was posted by TanjaParsley on April 3, 2012 in Persuasion, PowerPoint, Presentation Skills, Upcoming Live Webinars. Bookmark the permalink. Follow comments with the RSS feed for this post. Post a comment or leave a trackback.

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