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Experts! Speak English Podcast

10 Top Presentation Tips for Non-Native Speakers

Top 10 Presentation Tips for Non-Native Speakers

10 Top Presentation Tips for Non-Native Speakers

As a non-native speaker, you might not feel like you are the obvious option to give a presentation in English, but if you are the expert and people have turned to you to give a talk or a presentation, I want you to rise to the challenge.

In this episode I’m going to give you 10 Tips that will help you do a brilliant presentation in English. Non native speakers bring a different perspective to the table, so it is very important that you as a non native speaker, speak up as the English speaking expert.

Welcome to the Experts! Speak English! Podcast!

Together we’ll discover how to talk yourself into an international career without the bullshit.

And at the end of each episode, I give you an opportunity to try out what you have just learned on the show because I give you Coco’s Communication Challenge which gives you an opportunity to get out there and try out one of the tools, techniques or tips that you will have heard on the show.

I’m Corinne Wilhelm, I’m a corporate communication coach with over 20 years experience of helping leaders to secure the career that they deserve through intentional communication, intercultural awareness, and the confidence to show up as the English-speaking expert.

Corinne - podcast host of the " Experts Speak English Podcast" with her editing headphones on

Judge's Top Tips

The judge is resolving the conflict.

Having been a judge at a couple of international speaking competitions recently, I was reminded of the presentation skills that every speaker should be aware of, especially non native speakers who let’s face it, need to work a little bit harder to get over their key messages. That is the same for me as a non-native speaker of German or for many business experts, who need to present in their non native language – English. 

If you have to present at work on an informal basis but suddenly get invited to go up on stage in front of colleagues and your bosses, you are bound to feel nervous. That makes you a down to earth, likeable person, someone who is in touch with their abilities and limitations, how refreshing! The same is true if you do plenty of presentations in your own language but suddenly you have a new boss, client or supplier who doesn’t speak your language, so the default language is suddenly English. Many of my my new clients come to me for coaching when they are catapulted into this situation overnight, it can happen to anyone, without warning, that can feel incredibly intimidating. So get ahead of the curve and start learning and practicing the right presentation skills in English.  Set yourself apart now, as an English speaking expert, without you having to get stressed, paranoid and frustrated up against a deadline. Practicing your presentations skills in English ahead of time is opening yourself up for career opportunities. 

You do not need a special type of English for non-native speakers to feel included and involved, you just need to deliver with more intention and passion. Make it easier for another non-native speaker just like you to understand your message and the knowledge that they need to take action. A native speaker of English has rarely had to master another language and very few would even dream of presenting in another language so they have less empathy and tend to speak much too fast. Turn that into your advantage. In every presentation, you want to become known as the speaker that was clear and easy to understand, with strong presentations, a few selectively chosen key messages and nice and slow. 

Native English speakers are actually more difficult to understand, so take advantage of that and speak nice and slowly. This gives non native speakers in your audience a better chance of understanding you – it’s actually considerate and inclusive. Believe me, nobody will get impatient that you are speaking too slowly but speaking too fast will loose people’s attention quickly. My top tip really is to    s-l-o-w   down. 

Native-Speakers Have Personality Too 

It is better to say less but have a bigger impact than trying to race to your escape. People will notice your uncertainty. Keep it structured and tight but don’t forget your personality.

If you tend to use the flip chart or paper to explain something do that, if you love anecdotes and analogies, lean into those, if you are the kind of person that makes people laugh, don’t let that part of your personality be washed out as you panic about pronunciation. Public speaking, like anything in life, gets easier with practice. Presentation skills for non-native speakers are largely the same as those for anybody but by focusing on the following pointers, you will make a better impression than your native speaking colleagues. Put that in your pipe and eat it!

selective focus of businessman writing on flipchart during presentation for multicultural colleagues
African-American Public Speaker on Stage

Non-native English Speakers All Start Somewhere

If you want to show up as leadership potential, a speech or presentation is a good opportunity to show that you know your stuff. As our market places and teams become more and more international, it is only natural that the amount of non-native English speakers in the audience is going to increase, just like being able to present online and to a hybrid audience.  Public-speaking gives you an opportunity to raise your profile, increase your confidence and expand your reach so in a global setting, non-native speakers are just as welcome on the stage and seen as a valued part of the expertise in your company as the native speakers. So let’s look at the English presentation skills that will get you noticed, regardless of your accent, because English for non native speakers might make this harder, but a lot more rewarding too. There’s nothing quite like a round of applause to motivate you to do even better in your next presentation.


10 Top Presentation Tips for Non-Native Speakers

So here is a quick recap for you of the key presentation skills for non-native speakers.

1. Start with a bang
2. Ace your Accent
3. Pronunciation on Tap
4. Practice out Loud and Practice on Time
5. Punctuate your Presentation with Pauses and …. Silence!
6. Wonderful Words
7. Structure & Stretch
9. Be Authentic
10. Summarize


1. Start with a bang!

  1. You have 4-7 seconds to grab their attention so don’t bore them with a slide about who you are and how to contact you, that can come later. Make an entrance, get their attention, get them thinking.

    Answer the questions

    “What’s in it for them?”
    “What will they know at the end of the presentation?”

2. Ace Your Accent

You might feel that your accent let’s you down, but remember, to other people it sounds intriguing, exotic or international. Many conference organisers deliberately select non native speakers to give the keynotes or take part in the panel sessions because they bring an international perspective to the stage. You can help your presentation to become easier to understand by checking three things first –

how to say any important
numbers or

Now this might sound obvious but believe me, it is often the simplest, most obvious things that trip up non native speakers. For instance, the German speakers tend to talk about agile in a way that makes it sound like HR to a native English speaker, so check those terms by getting a native speaker to help you with your presentation.. 
International flags

3. Pronunciation Power-Up

The easiest way to avoid making mistakes with pronunciation actually is by listening to more podcasts and the news in English. That way the correct pronunciation becomes second nature. It’s a practical approach too, right because you will be learning about your industry from the perspective of people in different cultures, industries and markets.

Active listening >>> Tips to improve your pronunciation include repeating short sections out loud. So if you hear someone saying something and you think, “Ooh that sounds good!”, rewind and say it again, three times is often enough, then again three times tomorrow and another three times by the end of the week.

The longer the sentence or quote, the more challenging this is, so set yourself a challenge and soon you will sound just like the native-speakers of English. If you are not speaking in your native language, don’t let the way that you pronounce things get in the way, use an online dictionary to check any names, abbreviations, terms or models that you want to say correctly or ask a native speaking colleague or friend to help you

young woman at home talking on the phone in loud mode

4. Practice - out loud and on time

The more time you leave to practice your presentation, the more comfortable you will feel with the presentation.

Resist the urge to keep tweaking and adding to it and be mindful of the time-frame that you are working towards, especially if by running over, you take time away from later speakers, that is rather self-centred.

All you have to do is time yourself on your phone. If you add something, what can you take out? Your speaking speed will tend to be faster ‘on the day’ so make sure that you take that into account when you time your speech or presentation.

5. Punctuate your Presentation with Pauses and .... Silence!

If you ask a colleague a question, you give them time to answer right? It’s the same in a presentation, if you have smartly decided to interact with your audience, by asking them a thought provoking question, then PLEASE make sure that you give them some time to think about it.

A pause is polite.

It makes the question genuine not hyperthetical, a pause is puntuation for your presentation.

You can pause before you say something or after your say something or if you really want to get the message home, both before and after. If you’re brave you can add a silence, get them thinking.

attractive and blonde woman in pink dress showing shh gesture
Words Matter, words as banner headline

6. Wonderful Words

By choosing wonderful words, you will pull people into your message. These don’t have to be complicated, long or formal, but they should be chosen deliberately to make exactly the right impression, that will help your audience to follow your presentation.  A confident speaker of English will use words that show the audience what they mean, make sure that you use precise adjectives and adverbs to give your message colour and meaning.

The more specific your message, the more meaningful and authentic it will be, so one part of improving your presentation skills is thinking carefully about the words you are using. Are they easy to understand? Are they said correctly? Do they communication facts or also a bit of passion and clout? Public-speaking is about appealing to the public so make sure that your message is understand by everyone in the audience, not just the experts – but have enough knowledge to keep the experts thinking too.

Some words are tougher to say than others, so try them on for size, practice out loud. Sometimes the individual words are ok but used together you might feel like your tongue is doing some kind of impossible jig on speed. Use words that work for you and remember, slowing down your speaking space will give yourself more time to think and pronounce the words properly and slowly.

Aloud. That’s the name of the game here. Sit in your car if you have to or go to the loo but practice out loud. Most of you will skip this but especially as a nonnative English speakers if it is fluency that you crave practicing out loud will make a huge difference because you need to hear the awkwardness to be able to do something about it. A slower pace gives you time to think, you’ll make less mistakes and appear calmer and in control.

7. Structure

Presentations in English are easier if you have an index card with the keywords on them, this is your speech scaffolding and will keep you on track.

Non-native speakers of English tend to depend too heavily on the slide deck or the presentation slides. Perhaps English-speaking experts feel that they will make less mistakes if they just stick to the script. (I used to be like this in German to be honest).

If you read word for word, people will feel robbed. You could put that in an email. So don’t read – ever!
If you read, you’ll make less of an impact.

Your audience is not interested in your knowledge of English, they don’t care if you have been to Business English lessons, they want to be educated, entertained and inspired so make sure that you have a clear structure and step away from the podium, it’s not like you don’t have any clothes on, so own the stage. It’s anyway much easier to think and focus if you are moving around so have the structure in your head or your hand and move around.


8. Move it Baby!

As a judge at speaking competitions, I am always reminded that many non native speakers are so paranoid about making a mistake that they completely forget to move.
The are almost stuck to the spot, not because they have a red round carpet like on the TED Talks but because they are stiff in body and in mind.
Don’t be afraid to move towards your audience, then take a step back.
Use your arms to show the arc in sales or a dramatic slump, pull them into your message.
That makes it easier for non-native speakers to listen to you. Remember that giving a presentation at the end of the day a performance – a performance of your knowledge.
A successful presentation needs motion and energy, that is what keeps the audience’s attention and that is what will help your message to become embedded in their long-term memory – that’s when they go from listening to you, to thinking about how it affects them. 
That’s where the magic happens.

9. Build Rapport.

Create a connection with your audience by referring to your own personal stories, anecdotes and analogies that they can easily relate to.
Even native speakers will appreciate this, pick them up where they are and make your complex message easy to understand. It will also help you identify who the experts are in the room, because they will nod or smile, so again, pause for a moment and let them take in your tale, making complete sense
Creating a script is easy but especially the experts (the movers and shakers in the room, that might well be deciding your leadership timeline) appreciate this kind of clear understanding.
A leader is someone who can explain something complicated in a way that makes sense from start to finish. So gather your thoughts, avoid jargon or slang and confidently feel at home in front of an audience, not because you are a big mouth or arrogant, but because you want clarity, even if it would normally be difficult for the audience to understand.
Don’t let the effects of stress cramp your style.

10. Summarize

It seems like a no brainer, but many non-native speakers are so relieved to get to the end of their presentation that they completely forget to repeat the key points and yet it is a great leadership and communication skill to leave your audience with a summary. Often these are the only bullet points that they write down so spell it out for them. You can even try to come up with an acronym. That gives your presentation that personal touch that is unique to you. You can also use the summarized points to create a LinkedIn post, especially if you have someone in the audience making photos of you. Slide shows are particularly popular on LinkedIn at the moment, so choose 7 of your key tips and share them with a broader audience. Who knows you might be up on the stage again, faster than you thought you would be or headhunted by a training company.

If you do worry about your grammar, there are a couple of ways to gain assurance, ask a native speaker whether it is a communication coach like myself of a friend or colleague or here’s a sneaky tip – use Deepl and instead of making Deepl do all of the heavy lifting, which robs you of a learning opportunity, go to the top and toggle from Deepl Translator to Deepl Write. It gives you the opportunity to optimise your text based on suggestions. This AI alternative is free at the moment so try it out for size and let me know what you think as it might have learned more for some industries than others.

10 Top Presentation Tips for Non-Native Speakers

So here is a quick recap for you of the key presentation skills for non-native speakers.

1. Start with a bang
2. Ace your Accent
3. Pronunciation on Tap
4. Practice out Loud and Practice on Time
5. Punctuate your Presentation with Pauses and …. Silence!
6. Wonderful Words
7. Structure & Stretch
9. Be Authentic
10. Summarize

Coco's Communication Challenge
Coco's Communication Challenge

Coco's Communication Challenge


So as with every Experts Speak English podcast episode, I give you Coco’s Communication Challenge and this week is no exception.

Step 1:
I want you to set the timer for 60 seconds, in that time I want to you to make a list of 12 things that you can talk about ‘off the cuff’, so without any planning. What can you nerd out about with a colleague, what can you talk about ‘until the cow’s come home’?. Why not do it right now if you can, put me on pause, I don’t mind.

Step 2:
Ok so you have your list of 12 things, now I want you to create a speech about something that you need zero research for, something that you know inside out and back to front or like the back of your hand. Take a simple structure with just three key points and take one topic, one story, one learning. Give yourself 60 minutes to write the speech, no slides, just bullet points and tell a story that teaches something. The speech should be no longer than 6 minutes. If you send it to me as a script, give yourself a pat on the back, if you send it to me as an audio file, I’ll give you some feedback by audio and if you send me a video, I’ll give you more comprehensive video feedback. You’ll need to do this quick otherwise let’s face it, it will get forgotten about so get this to me by Easter Sunday 9th April. This is exclusively open to non-native speakers at the moment because I am passionate about helping non-native speakers to secure the rewarding career that they deserve.

Project your voice with intention

Book In For your ...

Ultimate Reminder For Non-Native Speakers - Slow Down

So do you see, this is not about your English skills, the most important thing to remember is slowing down your speaking pace, indulging your audience with pauses, using wonderful words that get them thinking. As your communication skills coach, I am more than happy to work with you – just book in for a virtual tea break to find out how I can help you to learn the right English for non native speakers to make a professional impression without the bullshit. 

You’ve been listening to Corinne Wilhelm on the Experts! Speak English Podcast


New Schedule

Going forward, given the commitment to the webpage that goes with each show, I’ll be making this a bimonthly podcast. I would prefer to publish fewer fabulous episodes than racing to get them done in time.  It will come out on the first and third Monday of the month, as always with Coco’s Communication Challenge to help you put what you learn into action.

If you need more Coco motivation, feedback and inspiration to take your communication and career to the next, international level let’s find out more about each other and start making a difference.

Until then have a fabulous week and be the very best communicator that you can be.

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