Article Category: Commentary, Flashback Friday

Six Simple Techniques for Presenting Data (Flashback Friday #34)

On Fridays, we dip into the Six Minutes article archive in search of one of the most memorable articles. We’ll dust it off, shine a light on it, and consider it from a new perspective.

Today’s Flashback Article

Hans Rosling - TED 2006This week, we’re reaching back to January 2008 to learn techniques for presenting data by observing the famous TED talk of Hans Rosling.

A few days after I published this speech critique, I received a surprising comment from Hans Rosling himself:

Must say I learnt a lot myself from reading this as I was surprised about the very positive response to my TED2006 talk.
I may add one aspect, I am lucky to talk about a topic where the actual knowledge is surprisingly low in spite of interest being high, the development of the world.

— Hans Rosling

I will always remember the humbleness of that comment. It’s a good reminder for all of us to be open to feedback, no matter how popular our presentations are.

Read the full article, and share your insights about presenting numbers:

In Memoriam: Hans Rosling (1948 – 2017)

Hans Rosling passed away last year, leaving a legacy as one of the most passionate and inspiring speakers I’ve ever seen. He had a tremendous knack for delivering “must see” presentations. I miss him.

As a tribute to him, here’s a few of my favorites, starting with his TED 2007 talk (“New insights on poverty”) with a finish that you really must see.


Then, check out his TED 2010 talk, titled “Global population growth, box by box“. Rather than relying only on slides, he demonstrates expert techniques for using props.


Here’s a short feature from the BBC titled “200 countries, 200 years, 4 minutes” starring Hans Rosling. Although the high-tech effects give a different mood, his delivery is as wonderful as ever. Don’t miss the “catastrophe” at about 1:55.

Want more? Search “hans rosling” on Youtube. It has taken my three hours to compile this article because I keep getting pulled into his presentations!


Earlier this year, Hans’ son and daughter-in-law completed the book which the three authored together: Factfulness: Ten Reasons We’re Wrong About the World, and Why Things are Better Than You Think.

It’s on my (early) Christmas wish-list.

Has anyone read it? Bill Gates loves it.

The world would be better if literally millions of people read the book. I give it my highest recommendation.


Finally, a few of the wonderful tributes to Hans Rosling’s life and legacy:

“He made statistics sing, and delivered his presentations with the passion and energy of a sports commentator. Hans used unexpected tactics to grasp his audience’s attention, making use of ropes, Lego figures, Ikea boxes, a washing machine, toy cars, and a variety of other props. During one presentation, dressed in a circus strongman’s vest, Hans swallowed a steel sword to prove ‘that the seemingly impossible is possible.'”

“As a medical doctor, epidemiologist and academic, but with the flair of a seasoned performer […], he delivered counter-intuitive factoids, accused advocates of tweaking statistics to advance their own causes, and debunked misapprehensions about the third world […]”

“In the spirit and hope of his heavenly harmony, may we finally understand what his Lego blocks, his graphical bubbles and Swenglish accent were all about:
We hold our destiny in our own hands.”

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