Using SmartArt to liven up your presentation

I’m sure that we’ve all sat there captivated bored by a PowerPoint presentation that consists of slide after slide of bullet points where a little thought and use of SmartArt could completely change the look & feel of the whole presentation allowing the presenter to re-engage with their audience.

So, what is SmartArt?

A SmartArt graphic can quickly and easily make a visual representation of your information. There are many different layouts to effectively communicate your message or ideas. What’s more SmartArt graphics can be created in Excel, Outlook, and Word in addition to PowerPoint.

Insert a SmartArt graphic and add text

If you’ve started a new blank slide, then depending which layout you’ve chosen, you can create the SmartArt directly from the slide…

Alternatively, from the Insert Tab, you can choose to Insert SmartArt

Whichever method you use, you’ll be taken to the same point where you can choose your SmartArt graphic…

As you can see, they are grouped based upon the message that you’re trying to get over. However, once you’ve chosen one style, it’s easy to swap…

So, using the simple set of arrows that we started this tip with, we select Process
from the categories on the left, then Continuous Block Process from the available options and then click OK. We could also have used the scroll bar to look through the whole range of options

Once you’ve clicked OK, the SmartArt graphic is inserted ready for you to add your text which you can do so by either typing directly into the boxes or by clicking the expand arrow at the left of the graphic & typing into a more traditional list. You can also change the shape, colour & style of your SmartArt at the same time. This is because, whilst you’ve clicked the graphic, the SmartArt Tools Tab has become visible at the left-hand end of your ribbon

Adding shapes

In the above example, you’re presented with three boxes to complete… but what if you have a fourth process??

Simply click on the shape where you want to add the additional shape (in this case Step 3 has been selected) & then select Add Shape from the top left menu on the Smart Art Tools > Design Tab. It will depend on the SmartArt that you’re working with which options are available

Once you’ve added your new shape, you can add any necessary text

Reorganising your SmartArt

The first thing that you can do is select the element of the SmartArt that you want to move & then choose to Promote/Demote, move up or down or right to left. Again, depending on which graphic you’ve selected, you’ll also be able to change the layout (useful with Organisation Charts where you need a block of names all “hanging” to the left or to the right for space considerations

Changing your mind

Having inserted your SmartArt graphic, what if you decide that a different layout would now look better? Simply find it & click on it! Yes, it’s that easy! And, what’s more, as you hover over the layouts with your mouse, your graphic changes to show you how it will look, but the new layout is only applied when you actually click on the alternative layout

So… this…

Or this…

Or even this…

Adding more information

The latter two options shown above (and others) allow for additional information to be added to the graphic if necessary. The easiest way to do this is by using the panel to the left of the graphic & using the Indent button (or the TAB key on your keyboard) to create the second level of bulleted list

Which can quickly transform to…

It may be that you choose a layout that doesn’t support sub levels or only a limited number of main levels, in which case, whilst they will still be “remembered”, they won’t be visible & a red “X” will show the “problem” items…

What if I’ve already built my presentation with bulleted lists?

Well, the good news is that you don’t have to do a complete rebuild!

Use your Right mouse button to click on your existing bulleted list, select Convert to SmartArt & select the layout that you want