On this website, and even a wee bit in the book, I have compared Bill Gates's PowerPoint presentations with Steve Jobs's presentations to underscore the relative ineffectiveness of Bill Gate's presentations with slides. But make no mistake: Bill Gates is a remarkable man and a great philanthropist. And when he is not presenting to a deck of slides filled with bullet points, he is a pretty darn good communicator as well. While looking for some recent video of Bill Gates today I ran across this June, 2007 speech by Bill Gates. Technically, this is not the best speech ever by any means, but considering who Bill Gates is and his incredible accomplishments, wealth, and position, I think this is a great speech. Bill did a wonderful job and his message is an important one. (Why wasn't more made of this speech when it occurred last summer? Was the message lost on the audience that day at Harvard? Did the important content touch too few there? I have no idea, but thank God for YouTube.) I hope more people—especially young people—will hear this important message by Bill Gates. Below is part 3 to give you a feel for the speech.
You can see the entire speech and read the transcripts on the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation website. You can also see the video in five parts on YouTube. I like the content. Bill reminds us that seeing—really seeing—is the first step. First step: see the problem. Second step: Cut through the complexity to find a solution. Below are a few of my favorite lines from Bill's Harvard speech:
"The barrier to change is not too little caring; it is too much complexity."
"To turn caring into action, we need to see a problem, see a solution, and see the impact. But complexity blocks all three steps."
"If you want to inspire people to participate, you have to show more than numbers; you have to convey the human impact of the work—so people can feel what saving a life means to the families affected."
Yes, Bill is not the most charismatic figure in the world, and judging from the crowd—and the woman behind him who kept yawning—maybe the speech could have been a bit shorter. But I think he did a pretty good job as far as speeches go. And for a university commencement speech, I'd say this was outstanding. I hope his message resonates with a new generation of entrepreneurs.
Another good speech
Here's my favorite college commencement speech. A different but complementary message to Bill's.