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Best Practice

Don't Be Afraid of Adobe Illustrator

If you want to add another tool to your presentation-development kit, consider Adobe Illustrator (AI). You don't have to be a an AI power user in order to get a significant amount of use from just a few of the tools within the the application. We'll show you just one of the many uses that AI can offer to you immediately.

It's best practice that horizontal flows' segments are the same size and equally spaced. But sometimes it's better for your message if your segments aren't the same size. Below is a standard horizontal flow. All the alignments, spacing, and sizes are correct.

If you want to keep the perfect alignments, spacing and vertical sizing and only change the width of the segments, copy the flow into AI. Click on the tool below that is highlighted are 1. This tool allows you to select parts of an object. The solid arrow above it selects the whole object – don't need this now, but just saying. With that tool, corral the the area you want to change, which, for example, is shown as highlighted area 2. Point of interest: see the points at the corners within the highlighted area 2 are solid and the points outside the highlighted areas on the two segments you will be resizing are open.

Now, all you have to do is

  • click and hold on one of the solid points in the highlighted area 2
  • hold your shift key down
  • and move them right or left to the position that best works for you.

The example below is a flow that has had its segments' widths changed. Notice that the spacing between the irregularly sized segments hasn't changed. This is exactly what you want.

Export this shape out of AI and save it to your desktop as an .emf file. Then drag it into your PowerPoint presentation, ungroup it twice (and get rid of the background no-fill/no-line field after it is ungrouped), and then position it and size it on your slide. After you do this a couple of times, you can literally have the flow with irregularly sized segments in less than a minute.

Enter in your text in each segment and then format the segments to have middle-aligned and centered text in PowerPoint. Change the color of the font if you need to in order to create the most contrast between the background of the segment and the text, so the text is easily readable.

This is only one application of the simpler tools in AI. And, you don't need to spend so much money any more to get AI. The Adobe products aren't sold as a suite any longer. You can purchase the use of a single product by subscription. It's now possible for regular people who don't plan to become experts in AI to leverage some useful AI tools.