8. Building Process Diagrams

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Powerpoint offers a number of ready-made process diagrams but it's normally easier to build them from scratch. This chart shows the stages of funding in the venture capital industry.


Building process diagrams

- Diagrams are normally used to display a company process or concept
- Microsoft provides a number of diagrams out-of-the-box in SmartArt
- However, it's almost always better to create your own with PowerPoint shapes
- Creating diagrams manually requires no new commands, just some imagination!

Useful keyboard shortcuts

CTRL + DRAG: Duplicate selected objects
CTRL + B: Bold text
SHIFT + DRAG: Move an object horizontally/vertically
SHIFT + CLICK: Select multiple objects


Flow or processed diagrams typically show a multi stage process or cycle on a slide.

They are used frequently on conceptual charts where the author wishes to apply structure to a process, an industry, or an idea.

PowerPoint offers a number of flow diagrams out of the box, like this one shown on screen.

To access one of these, we’re going to go to a new slide, then click Insert and click SmartArt.

And in SmartArt, if you go to the Cycle or the Process tab, you'll see many different options for creating flow charts.

Let's quickly select Click OK and the chart will be added to your slide.

When I'm building charts, I tend to ignore SmartArt because the graphics are often not very good, and they are not very customizeable.

It’s almost always easier and quicker to simply build the chart manually using PowerPoint shapes.

That's what we'll be doing in today's lesson.

The slide we’ll be creating today will show the progressive stages of venture capital investing, highlighting where our company is on this process.

Let's start by creating a new slide, and we'll give it a title.

We'll remove the placeholder and we'll first build the five stages using the following shape.

So let's draw one, let's move the yellow diamond to reduce the size of the diagonal lines and we'll write Mezzanine.

Let's duplicate this shape with Ctrl and Shift, and let’s write Expansion.

We'll now duplicate both shapes, and in these boxes we'll write First stage and Start-up.

We've one more box to write.

Let's first select all of these and move them over to the right hand side of the page holding Shift.

Let's duplicate one more box, and in here we'll write Seed.

I'd like to bold the content of each box, so I'll just press Ctrl + B after selecting each of them, and I'd also like to make sure that the First stage, Expansion and the Mezzanine stages can be seen clearly.

They’re currently hidden slightly behind the preceding box.

So let's select the first box and let's move it slightly to the left.

If we then select all and realign, we'll see that more space has been created for the Mezzanine, Expansion and First stage.

Let's complete this reducing the size of the font let's say to 16, and now we can clearly see the title for each box.

Next let's add a stage for the IPO at the end, and we'll use a circle.

Let's hold Shift to create a perfect circle, and in the middle we'll type IPO.

We'll bold this text with Ctrl + B, and we'll fill it with red.

So select red for fill, and we'd also select red for outline.

We'll want to make room for this IPO circle on the right hand side of our stages.

Let's select all of the stages, let's group them, and let's reduce the width of this shape.

That should be enough.

Simply move the IPO to the right and then we'll grab both shapes and align There we go.

To create a greater distinction between the stages, I'm going to give each stage a white border.

So I'm going to ungroup, and then give it a white border.

I'll also give the IPO a white border by clicking white on shape outline, and that looks much better.

I'd also like to specify which stages are funded by venture capital and which are typically funded by private equity.

And to do this, I'm going to duplicate this shape and I'm going to extend it across three stages.

I'm also going to move it to the back, I'm going to increase the height and I want toalign bottom with the bottom stage.

And you can now see how we can use this larger shape to identify the first three stages as venture capital.

Let's first fix the diagonal so it looks like a continuation of the first stage, and that looks reasonably good, and now we'll add some text to our shape.

So with the shape selected, we'll go to Align Text Top, we'll delete Seed, and we'll add Venture Capital.

I'll now duplicate this shape, I'm going to move it to the back, I'll shorten it and I'll write Private Equity.

I may need to shorten it a little further, so that Private Equity lands up in the middle.

That looks pretty good, and now our stages shape is complete.

So let's group it and we'll move it to the top of the page.

I'm now going to write a description for each stage, so let's select text box, let's click and type.

This is clearly too long for one stage, so let's reduce the width of the text box, and I'm going to reduce the size of the font to 16.

I'll then ungroup each of the stages so I can align the text with the stage.

Let’s align this left, there's our first description.

I’d like to separate the descriptions with vertical lines, so let's draw a vertical line by holding Shift and we'll add dashes to this line.

I'm going to duplicate this line all the way across for each stage.

And off camera, I'm going to fill in the remaining descriptions for each stage.

My slide now includes a description for each stage.

But the text of this description is a little big, so I'm going to select all of the text boxes, and I'm going to reduce the font to 15.

I'd also like to do some work aligning the vertical lines, so I'm going to create one more vertical line, and I'll align it left with Seed.

I'm then going to select all the vertical lines, holding Shift as I go, and then distribute these horizontally.

And that now looks much better.

Let's group these lines and we'll extend them, because I want to put a slider to show where our company is in this process.

To create a slider, we'll simply draw a horizontal line, and align it left with a grouped object.

Let's increase the width of this line, and now I'll draw a triangle that will actually act as our slider.

Let's border it red, and we'll color it red.

And then align middle with this line.

We can now move our triangle along this line by holding Shift to the position that our company is in.

So for example, if our company is looking for expansion stage funding, we can move the slider here.

Next, let's let people know that this is actually a slider.

So we'll give this line a label, and I’m going to write where we are.

We’ll need to extend the height and the width of this rectangle, and we’ll need to realign the three objects.

Let's change the format slightly, blue text and a white background, and to finish up I'm just going to remove furthest most lines, which we don't really need, on the right and on the left.

Our chart is now almost complete, there are a couple of small improvements we could make.

For example, we could move the First stage, Expansion and Mezzanine text a little over to the right, because it is hugging the left hand border of our shape.

To do this, let's select the different shapes, let's Align Text, More Options and then adjust the left margin.

And as we increase it, you can see that these labels get a little more space.

That should do it.

Let's just do a quick alignment check before we finish up by grouping everything, View Guides.

And with a little move to the left, our chart is aligned.

And there you have it.

As I mentioned at the start, flow diagrams are very easy to create yourself and are very customizeable.