Speak Like a CEO by Oliver Aust

7 Ways to Perfect Your English

Published about 2 months ago • 5 min read

This week: 7 ways to perfect your English as a non-native speaker / Join me for a conversation on LinkedIn Live / Revolutionize work & communications with AI / The best books on persuasion.

How to Perfect Your English in 7 Steps (As A Non-Native Speaker)

Around 1.1 billion people speak English as a second language – like me and possibly you.

That’s almost 3 times the number of people who speak English as their first language.

Many of the 1.1 billion are stuck on the OK plateau. That is a challenge, especially in leadership positions.

I know, I was one of them. I moved to England for my Master’s when I was 22, speaking average high school English. Today I podcast, speak in public and write books in English.

Even if you don’t plan to host a podcast, being an effective leader or entrepreneur today requires us to speak excellent English.

Here’s how you can get there in 7 steps. I know that some of these (especially 1 and 7) run against received wisdom and aren’t necessarily popular. But they worked for me and will work for you.

#1 Choose Your Accent

Don’t mix British and American pronunciation. It sounds weird for native speakers.

Decide which English you are going to speak.

#2 Lose Your Accent

Hone in on the 10% of sounds that give you a stereotypical accent.

If you want to imitate a German accent in English, you pronounce the “th” as a “z”.

That’s why I had to practice my ”th” (plus my “w”, “v” and “r”). I did it by imitating lip, tongue and mouth movements in front of a mirror.

#3 Raise The Stakes

In “The Tim Ferriss Experiment” (on YouTube), Tim commits to learn Tagalog in 4 days before giving a live TV interview in the Filipino language.

I did the same when I moved to England to study. Bad English = bad grades & few friends.

Commit to speak in public in 1 month to raise the stakes.

#4 Immerse Yourself

The typical classroom model is broken. You don’t want to spend years in a state of mediocrity.

Immerse yourself with a coach, by spending time in a country, or by attending an intensive course to break through the language barrier.

(Read ‘Ultralearning’ by Scott H.Young on immersion.)

#5 Love The Culture

I lived in different countries, learning different languages.

Learning the language when I loved the culture was fun. When I didn’t, it was hard work.

My 14-year old loves Billie Eilish and has translated all her songs into German.

What do you love about the culture of the English-speaking world?

#6 Know How You Learn

Neuroplasticity is higher in children, yet adults like us have a big advantage: we know how we learn best.

Is it an app like Babbel, virtual live classes like Lingoda, or writing down every new word on a cue card to enhance memorization?

#7 Aim For Perfection

Unpopular advice, I know. But if you want to perfect your English to be an international business leader, aim for perfection.

Whenever I come across a word I don’t know or don’t know how to pronounce, I look it up.

Is my English perfect? Of course not. But way better than my 20-year old self would have ever imagined.

Many people will tell you your English is good enough. I never listened to them. And I still don’t. Instead, I enjoy the process of improving a little bit every day – and I hope you enjoy it too.


Let’s Talk! Join my LinkedIn Live & Q&A

Don't miss out on my LinkedIn Live next Wednesday! Peter Sorgenfrei and I will discuss the latest in effective leadership communications.

Peter is an ace CEO coach who built six companies himself. We will discuss how to project executive presence, build trust, use magic words, avoid the 7 Deadly Sins of Speaking and much more.

The session will be packed with actionable advice and is a can't-miss opportunity to ask us questions.

To join us on Wednesday, sign up here


Revolutionizing Work & Communications

Total content overload or 15 hour workweeks – what will AI bring? In this week's fascinating episode, I speak with Dr. Léa Steinacker, an award-winning social scientist and AI expert.

Co-authored with Miriam Meckel, her new book on AI became an instant bestseller in Germany.

Léa explains how AI will impact how we communicate as profoundly as the internet changed how we access information. She also provides insights into the extraordinary history of AI going back thousands of years, from ancient texts to Ada Lovelace's pioneering work in the 1800s.

Léa discusses both the huge potential for AI to increase productivity and creativity, as well as the risks of content overload and struggling to distinguish what's important.

Additionally, Léa shares her secrets to speaking in front of thousands – how she prepares, gauges what the audience needs and how creates her trademark presence on stage.

Whether you're hoping to leverage AI's benefits, are concerned about its implications, or simply want to communicate more effectively, this episode will leave you much wiser about the past, present and future of AI.

Listen on Spotify and Apple:


8 Books on Persuasion

#1 Influence by Robert B. Cialdini

This book explores the psychological principles that govern how people are persuaded. Cialdini unveils the six key principles of influence - reciprocity, commitment, social proof, liking, authority, and scarcity.

#2 Obviously Awesome by April Dunford

Dunford offers a comprehensive framework for effective product positioning, giving you the tools to craft compelling narratives that resonate with your target audience, differentiate your offerings and ultimately drive sales success.

#3 The Catalyst by Jonah Berger

Berger provides a roadmap for driving change and shaping opinions more effectively. He introduces five key principles that allow influencers to become catalysts - making their ideas stick, reducing resistance, and inspiring action.

#4 Hook Point by Brendan Kane

In today's distracted world, capturing attention is more challenging than ever - which is why Kane provides a comprehensive guide to creating engaging "hook points" that instantly grab your audience.

#5 The Perfect Story by Karen Eber

Eber breaks down the art of powerful storytelling, providing a step-by-step framework for crafting narratives that captivate audiences and drive impact. Learn how to take any story and make it perfect.

#6 Pre-Suasion by Robert B. Cialdini

Cialdini introduces the concept of "pre-suasion" - the process of gaining a psychological advantage before a pitch even begins. He provides insights into optimally framing situations to be maximally receptive to your message.

#7 Win Every Argument by Mehdi Hasan

This guide equips you with the essential skills for effective argumentation, persuasion, and public speaking. Hasan teaches how to construct logical arguments, use rhetorical techniques, and deliver captivating speeches.

#8 Never Split The Difference by Chris Voss

Drawing from his experience as an FBI hostage negotiator, Voss provides a field-tested approach to high-stakes negotiations that generates trust and achieves maximum value.

Have an inspired weekend!



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