The College Kid Whose Awesome Speech Went Viral

Nick Selby is a sophomore at Georgia Tech University.

He was invited to give a speech to incoming freshmen earlier this month. His job was to get them excited about Georgia Tech and its engineering program.

Let’s just say he succeeded wildly.

(Click here to see the full version of his speech.)

Most of us will never give such a dramatic speech. But Selby’s success—the speech has been seen millions of times online and earned him an eight-minute interview on the Fox News Channel—offers a lesson for all of us who deliver public presentations.

The biggest lesson from this video

If you’re going to succeed as a public speaker, you need to fully commit to your material. You may be aware of a gap in your knowledge on your speech topic, for example, or know that one section is weaker than the rest. It’s normal to think those things. But those are internal thoughts that need to be left behind the moment you hit the stage.

Nick Selby 2

Selby’s speech would have been a disastrous flop if he had showed even the tiniest hint of self-consciousness. If he had communicated that he knew he was taking a risk—either in an explicit manner or a more subtle one that showed up through his tone or body language—he would have flopped spectacularly.

Instead, he fully committed. He risked looking silly, because he knew that his greatest chance for success was believing in his material completely.

And it worked.

There’s one additional item worth noting: A great delivery works best when it’s inextricably tied to a clear message. Selby was squarely on message, which allowed him to succeed in his mission of exciting the incoming students. 

Selby’s Fox News appearance is below.

 

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