Sophomore Georgia Tech student Nick Selby welcomed this year’s first-year students in unforgettable style. There are lots of things a speaker or speechwriter could take from this clip: the use of crescendo, knowing your material cold, owning the stage, using your body as well as your voice, using a callback (“the shoulders of giants”) and so on.
Those are all worth reflecting on. But here’s the biggest thing that struck me.
Mr. Selby could have delivered the same achingly sincere address you’ll see at a bazillion such events. An opening joke, a reminder of the greatness that has gone before them, a quote from Oh, The Places You’ll Go — and he’d have been applauded and thanked warmly. He could have just met the crowd’s expectations.
But instead, he left those expectations choking on his dust. And he gave his audience something they’ll remember for a long time to come.
That’s what I take from this. Whenever you have the opportunity, don’t just rise to the occasion. Rise past it. That’s how speakers become remembered.