I saw Bill Gates do a presentation years ago at CES, and he wasn’t the most memorable speaker I’ve ever seen. (Gates has held up a lot better than the product he introduced that day – it was the short-lived software product “Bob.”) It seems like Gates has learned a thing or two about how to spice up a PowerPoint in the intervening years. At TED, the Technology Entertainment Design conference, Gates delivered a speech on the scourge of malaria. The BBC reports that Gates release multiple mosquitos into the room during his presentation.

I always knew Gates was smart, but this was presentation genius. Do you think anyone in the room will forget the point of Gate’s presentation? Never… hearing “malaria” or “mosquito” will no doubt bring Gates’ crusade to mind for years. I’m sure many attendees felt their skin crawl as soon as Gates let the buzzing insects go. And even though the mosquitos were not carrying malaria, I’m sure that attendees at least briefly felt the vulnerability of those living in countries where mosquitos DO carry the disease.

This brilliant stunt works on many levels:
– gets the attention of the audience immediately
– communicates the point of the presentation at a visceral level
– creates a powerful memory of the presentation
– has viral potential (no pun intended) to convey the message beyond those in attendance

Nice job, Bill – this more than makes up for Bob!

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