Presentation Design from Bill Gates: Innovating to Zero
In 2010, Bill Gates spoke at the TED Conference about reducing the world’s Carbon Dioxide emissions and innovation in energy technologies. After being bashed by many presentation design aficionados for his terrible slides in 2005 as he unveiled Microsoft’s new Live Software strategy, Mr. Gates made an incredible comeback with his “Innovating to Zero” presentation.
Here are three reasons this presentation was great:
Mr. Gates’ story is one of hope and miracles as well as challenges. The presentation explains the need for carbon dioxide reduction from basic principles to more complicated technologies in a very easy to understand way. The presentation is also sprinkled with photos that humanize the story, like the photo of children doing homework under street lamps because they don’t have elctricity at home.
2. Slide to Story Ratio
This presentation is a little under 20 minutes long and contains about 25 slides. This sets up a good pace. As Bill introduces a new point a visual is displayed to help explain it. If more slides were used they would only be displayed for a short time each. If fewer slides were used it might be harder to keep the audience’s attention.
The slides are professional and beautiful. Each slide contains high quality photography and a graphic designer’s touch. Most of the slides contain simple information graphics and very little text. The slides themselves are simple and clear and although I am sure a graphic designer put them together, the graphic techniques don’t go much beyond what you can accomplish with PowerPoint or Keynote and an iStockphoto account. In addition, the slides have a clear color palette of White, Yellow, Black and some Blue in the imagery. Used with consistency, this color scheme pulls the slides together as whole.
I have picked out a few slides to show you below and at the end of the post you can see a video of the presentation from TED. I encourage anyone interesting in improving their presenting skills or their slide design skills to watch as many TED presentations as they can. Enjoy!