Your partners in educational excellence since 1994

You are here

Action Steps

Speaking Tips: For Interviews and Beyond

Whether for boarding school or college applications, many candidates will be preparing for interviews in the coming months. In addition, many schools incorporate public speaking into their curriculum. Consider these as opportunities to build presentation skills that will serve you throughout life. Practice these tips to make a confident and memorable impression, whether for an audience of one or for a room full of people.

  • Make eye contact and smile. One of the most important gifts a speaker can give to an audience is the act of being comfortable. When the person presenting (or being interviewed) looks confident in his or her role, the audience (or interviewer) can relax themselves. This allows your audience to focus on the content of what you are saying. 
  • Convey excitement. Enthusiasm is infectious. You can inspire an audience by sharing what inspires you. In an interview setting, share your personal passions—what you are excited to explore and why. Interviewers do not expect candidates to have everything figured out; instead, they are looking for candidates with a zest for life and learning.
  • Tell stories. The format of “story” has been used to build relationships for thousands of years. Listeners instinctively relate to the narration of how a character experiences a series of events. Think about three anecdotes that demonstrate who you are as a student and as a whole person. 
  • Ask questions. Sometimes candidates worry that asking questions looks like they haven’t done their homework before an interview. On the contrary, asking good questions—about topics that are not easily found on a school’s website—demonstrates that you are thinking deeply about how you will fit into a school community. Experienced speakers often build open-ended questions into presentations. This shows that a speaker understands the broader implications of a topic and enlists the audience as collaborators in further thinking.

In recent years, TED talks have become the gold standard for public speaking. Journalist, speaker, and author Carmine Gallo has analyzed more than 500 TED talks and interviewed speakers for his book Talk Like Ted: The Nine Public Speaking Secrets of the World’s Top Minds. The lessons he gleaned relating to public speaking also offer valuable insights that can be adapted for interview situations.

At The Bertram Group, we are available to our candidates for in-depth, personalized preparation to make the upcoming interview season as enjoyable as it is effective.