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 process diagrams typically show a multistage process or cycle on a slide. They're used frequently on conceptual charts where the author wishes to apply structure to a process, an industry, or an idea.

In this lesson, we'll learn how to create process diagrams using PowerPoint objects.

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 this one, 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're not very customizable. It's almost always easier and quicker to simply build the chart manually using PowerPoint shapes. That's what we'll be doing in this lesson. We'll create a slide showing the progressive stages of venture capital investing, highlighting where our company is in this process.

Let's start by creating a new slide.

And we 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 adjust the shape to reduce the size of the diagonal lines.

And we'll write Mezzanine.

Let's duplicate the shape with Control and Shift, and let's write Expansion.

We'll now duplicate both shapes.

And in these boxes, we'll write First stage and Startup.

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 select all the shapes and press Control + B. And I'll also liked 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.

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 by 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 set 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 bold this text with control + B and we'll fill it with red.

So select red for fill, And we'll 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 will grab both shapes and align middle, 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'd 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 want 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 to align 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 right Private Equity.

I may need to shorten it a little further. So the Private Equity lines 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 gonna 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 think 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 a 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 align it left with Seed, and then I'm 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.

I will 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 the grouped object.

Let's increase the width of this line.

And now I'll draw a triangle that will actually act as our slider.

It's border at 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 need to extend the height and the width of this rectangle.

And we 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. 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 they're very customizable.

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Shapes, Lines, and Images


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