Goalkeepers: Bill Gates’ speeches

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

At a glance

These dynamic big-screen presentations helped Bill Gates to deliver an annual speech that’s designed to change the world.

Bringing Bill’s speech to life

We’ve created beautifully designed reports to convey some powerful stories of progress at the United Nations’ Goalkeepers events.

But in 2018 and 2019, we also created motion-graphic data visualizations to support the event’s highly anticipated centrepiece: Bill Gates’ annual speech about reducing global poverty.

Photo of Bill Gates on stage at Goalkeepers 2018 event

Designing to a T

In 2018, the first thing we had to consider was the unusual shape of the screen. The projection stretched out into an inverted T-shape behind Bill Gates – and on to the floor where he would be standing.

We chose to use the side screens for secondary data points, helping the user to understand the main story and bringing context to the central visuals.

A story of change

Moving through time from 1990 to 2017 to 2050, Bill Gates’ speech reveals the number of people in the world who have overcome extreme poverty – and what the future could look like. 

Our visualization had to bring this evolving data to life in a way that was dynamic and easy to understand.  

We also needed to deep-dive into the stories of China, India and particularly sub-Saharan Africa, which is predicted to have over 75% of the world’s people living below the extreme poverty line by 2050.

Joining the dots

We used a simple, powerful visual approach: one dot to represent one million people. 

These dots allowed us to create an accurate, beautiful way of visualizing some huge data sets.

Flowing movement enabled the audience to see these clusters of dots growing, shrinking and shifting as Bill talked through the story.

Chart from Bill Gates' presentation at Goalkeepers 2018

Finishing touches

We used subtle animations to highlight key words and numbers throughout the visualizations to help the audience read the charts.

The animation was designed so that it could be adapted and re-used by the Gates team in a 16×9 format for later presentations.


Raising expectations

In 2019, Bill Gates’ speech actually began in 1800. A time when, he reminds us, “most people in the room here would be dead”.

The focus? Progress and equality. We mapped the change in life expectancy across four continents (Europe, America, Asia, Africa) and three different centuries (1800-2019).

It revealed that everyone is living longer (progress) but there’s still a significant gap that needs to be closed (equality).

Hope in Ethiopia

We used this ‘bee swarm’ chart to help Bill Gates explain a crucial part of Ethiopia’s success story. 

The audience could see two positives in play at once: not only have the number of infant deaths decreased across all districts in the country, but the gap between the best and worst districts has closed too.

Seeing is understanding

It was important to help the audience understand fast and to give Bill Gates less to explain.

To achieve this on a scatterplot containing 17,000 dots, we used simple colour-coding (green for good, red for bad) and axis gradients that made sense at a glance.

A greener world

Colour was key to the storytelling throughout. Here we used it to map the number of babies being born against their odds of living a healthy life.

Using a simple ticker and animated hotspots, we showed that the areas where people are having more babies are the areas where those odds are worse.

“Our foundation is focused on the belief that we shouldn’t have red dots or even yellow dots,” concluded Bill Gates. “We want every human being to have the basic opportunities that we take for granted. We need to change the odds.”