Category Archives: Image and Impressions

Five Important Things You Must have to SHINE on Stage

Estimated reading time: 4 minutes, 5 seconds. Contains 819 words

If you’re wondering about the key qualities great speakers share, look no further.

Having spent over the last 10 years on stage, I’ve had the privilege of speaking to thousands of people over the years, via different mediums, at different functions and events… and taking notes on what worked and what didn’t. Continue reading Five Important Things You Must have to SHINE on Stage

Misses and Hits: Lessons from Singapore’s YPAP Video

Editors Note:
This post is written entirely for learning purposes. Any sarcasm and cynical comments found herein are included for entertainment purposes, and not meant to offend.

[C’mon… give me a break I head to go through the video 5 times!]

Click here to launch the video


[5 minutes 46 seconds, if you average 3 words per second]

ypap pic



By now, if you live in Singapore, or have friends who are Singaporeans – you would have heard about the latest video controversy making its round on the internet.

I was asked by a local news paper, The New Paper to give my views on the video and the reasons for the reception it received.

Here’s my take on the misses and hits, and what we can learn from it.


1) Robotic “Personalities” 

Go through the first 40 seconds of the video, and you’ll see bodies people largely standing still. Even for people who speak, their gestures and mannerisms appear largely controlled.

Having worked in front of the camera, I’m aware of the need to minimize distracting mannerisms.

Unfortunately, minimizing mannerisms in this case has swung to the other extreme, causing a number of people in the video to appear contrived and “emotionless”.

What really stood out for me, is how one person, apart from his/her voice, speaks and sounds almost the same as the other person – how’s that for personality and personalization? 

What could’ve been better: Variation in tone, pace and hand gestures would’ve broken the seeming monotony of “robotic personalities”. They key is to present one’s personality and energy.  


2) Synchronized Movement: An Irony of  Preparation

This is probably a sad irony of preparation. Where an audience demands sincerity and connection with the people who may eventually be their leaders, synchronized gestures throughout the video (ie, at 0:26s) suggests a rehearsed attempt and hardly suggests that actions from the activists (pardon the pun) “came from the bottom of the heart”.

Even the following segment by the West Coast Region YP, an apparent attempt at presenting a united front – backfired, when the actions appeared overly orchestrated.

Tanjong Pagar Region YP (3:44) upped the ante with their segment with an even more uniformed recital of what they wanted to say and with their eyes all over the place except the camera.

Eyes at the camera, please?
Eyes at the camera, please?

What could’ve been better:  Have close ups of individual activists from within the group, present shortened, specific segments. So everybody gets air time, but there’s less “group” coordination required for the recital.

It’s also perfectly fine to look at the camera to simulate eye contact with the audience.

By the way, having one’s eyes moving systematically, from left to right gives people the perception that you’re reading off a script/teleprompter and not speaking from the heart… so doing that is also highly discouraged.

ypap pic 2

It’s hard to convince people that you truly believe in and care for something, when the delivery appears to be devoid of emotion, scripted and prepared.


3) Language: Can you Connect with the Common Man?

I noted a couple of instances, when the words used by the presenters weren’t naturally relatable to or immediately understandable by the man on the street.

In short, we don’t use them as part of of our daily conversations.

Take for example the segment presented by Holland-Bukit Timah Region, where it was said, “We must continue to be responsive to the ever-changing social, political and economic environment, by distributing resources in a caring manner, and balancing  market forces and government intervention for Singaporeans to better cope with living expenses.

That’s a lot of big words there.

Instead of that, how about, “We must continue to be sensitive to the needs of Singaporeans – by sharing with them the fruits of the country’s labour and help them with the costs and challenges of living.
(I don’t like the word “challenging” here… but hey, I came this at the top of my head and it’s still better than the original version, no?)

Then there are  terms that even I find confusing… such as East Coast Region YP’s “Diversity in Social Mindset” – I understood the explanation that came after the term… but I did find myself scratching my head wondering why that can’t be replaced with the phrase “Having more members from more diverse backgrounds” (… other than doctors, lawyers, etc).

If only the other YP branches heeded the advice of Choa Chu Kang Region YP, who called for communication to be simple, concise and easy to understand…



Okay, now that I’m done with the misses… let’s consider the hits.

Content: Pretty sound there – there’re no surprises here. Every thing is spic and span and no controversy erupted over a message that could’ve been misconstrued etc. At least the PAP doesn’t have to be embarrassed by a message.

Party Discipline: Say what you like, the teams still pulled together to deliver a consistent message/direction is still commendable. Achieving that by itself is a feat, considering the massive machinery that is the PAP.

A for Effort and Putting Yourself Out There: Trying to be ‘natural’ and coordinated… you’ve got to say, the people tried and they’re really NOT actors!

It would be great if the speakers could achieve the level of unconscious competency in the area of public speaking, communication and connecting with their audience.

Hey guys… just in case you’re wondering where you can learn that, I know of a coach who does a great job at helping people with that! *winks*



To be fair, I truly believe getting the different branches to send in a “proper” video for compilation is a mammoth task.

The PAP, known more for its discipline accuracy (think engineers and lawyers) and assuming the role of the ruling party would naturally place greater emphasis on the content of its message.

Still, try as they like, the call for people to focus on intention and the message is expected… but will very likely fall on deaf ears.

After all, people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

Therefore, although I believe that there exists real concern (and passion) hidden under the cloak of nervousness and unrefined performance, the art of communication and connecting with the audience is a skill the PAP needs to work on, if they wish to really soften the blow of their (hard) policies and move the audience into believing that they know what’s best.

6 Important Tips to Get the Most out of Business Networking


We may well be into the 21st Century, but that old adage, “it’s not who you know, but who know’s you” continues ringing true.

In fact, some people (myself included) have gone further with, “it’s not who knows you, but who remembers you” that counts.

The Art of Successful Networking for both personal and professional success are still key components in our world today. Yet, it is still an area that many of us fall short of, mainly because a significant proportion of us operate behind the miracle and wonders of the computer, and that good teachers on the subject are far and few between.

Here then, is a list of 6 Tips on How to Get the Most out of Business Networking  
(Adapted from the Financial Post – Read the Original Article Here)

1. Commitment

Commit yourself to speaking to people you haven’t met, and avoid the comfort of just hanging around familiar faces.

Commit yourself too, to having quality conversations, and by that I mean finding out about what they do, how you can help them and vice versa.

2. Dress the Part

The business world is a big marketplace, but that doesn’t mean you should dress like you are actually at one.

The way you dress, reflects how much effort and consideration you’ve put into your personal and professional branding. A haphazard ‘put-together’ suggests you don’t care – and if you don’t why should others?

3. Be Professional

Being professional means applying a skill or practice in the course of work, and that takes effort – effort which goes over and beyond what you would normally do in the personal sphere.

Being professional, thus requires you to prepare the “tools of your trade” and doing everything which is necessary to get the job done and done well. This includes preparing your name cards (the crisp and nice ones), polishing your shoes, reading up on who might be attending the event, and what they might be interested in etc.

4. Seize the Initiative

Don’t rely on others to take the lead. Be first to break the ice; they are probably just as nervous as you are and are also there for a purpose.

5. It’s Not Over Even After Its Over

A big mistake most people make at the end of a networking event, is thinking that it’s over after everybody’s gone home.

It’s not.

That people have gone home means that your work has entered the second phase of “staying in touch”. When the dust’s settling, that’s when you get the breeze going by keeping in touch and reminding them you are keeping them in mind (preferably with ways to help them in whatever ways necessary).

In a subtle way, it is also an indirect way of reminding them to keep a look out for opportunities for you.

Regardless, it’s still a great way to have them remember you – and that’s important, isn’t it?

6. Stay Visible

Join a networking/professional group or volunteer your services. Whatever it may be, the key point here is that you should be able to meet new people, show others what you are capable and continuously apply Tips 1-5.

Offer to speak at events, or publish articles; position yourself as the “go-to” person in your industry.

At the end of the day, it’s more important about who knows (and remembers) you, than who you know, is it not?


Do you have any other tips where it comes to Networking? Share it in the comments section below!


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Coming Soon: Speaking Lessons from Singapore’s General Election

Courtesy of Tribal DBB and Brandtology
Singapore General Elections 2011

Some of you may know of  it. Most of you are involved in it. That is if you are Singaporean, that is!

A battle is raging on our usually peaceful and restful nation. The General Election fever has hit our sunny island, and the battle for the electorate’s votes have been raging like wild fire!

And with the benefit of social media, and with sites like Facebook, Twitter and Youtube, the action is brought even closer to voters, of which I am one of too. Indeed, social media has brought about a certain air of change, as voices from various camps are much easily heard during these GE, as compared to yesteryears.

Whether those voices will be well received by the electorate, and whether they will translate into votes is anybody’s guess. More importantly however,  not only do we get the opportunity to witness our potential elected representatives in actoin, we too get an opportunity to review and assess their individual speaking styles in action.

Yes, and that means the good stuff… along with the bad.

I will evaluate various speakers in action. Not so much of the things that they say (I’m no expert on politics and policies), but on the way it was pitched, their use of voice, body language, and the ways they were structured in delivery. The main aim is to share with everybody lessons that we may all learn in our quest for personal development.

Do note that I do not know most of them personally, and so any criticisms of their speaking styles or perceptions of them on stage should not be seen as an attack on their personalities. It’s just a general assessment skills, of what are potential  public figures in the future.

Hey, these people will be judged and assessed not just by the locals, they will be seen by the whole world too if they assume higher office too… and it’s my hope that this post can help you in your growth and preparation for future challenges too.

The first post is coming up soon. Watch this space!

Your Public Speaking Coach,

Gary G



Click here to join the Shy Speakers Guide on Facebook!


Related Post:

1) Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive

Body Language: What Can You Learn at the Expense of Politicians!

When it comes to elections, do the body gestures of politicians mean anything?

Well – they sure do!

With elections fever all the rage in America right now – this special Body Language Report highlights and interprets some of the messages and mistakes that politicians use and make during their political rallies.

Are you interested in learning more about how you can speak with greater perceived confidence, power and credibility – and essentially enhance the clarity of your message through body language?

If your answer’s a yes, then this report is for you! It isn’t a long one (it’s just 5mins and 25 seconds), but it can raise your awareness of what are some of things to do and not to do.

So get out a piece of paper an check it out! Get ready to take some notes even!

Here it is: Continue reading Body Language: What Can You Learn at the Expense of Politicians!

You Make a Difference!

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world: indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

Margaret Mead

We go about doing many things in life. Sometimes, we get so used to doing certain things and being so comfortable with certain people that we start taking them for granted – and forget about the differences they make in our lives.

A friend of mine hadn’t. She found this beautiful email in her inbox one day, and she took the time to send it to me, as a way of thanking me for a difference in her life.

This was the story (in video form), she sent me:

I think the story’s an enlightening read, simply because it highlights how one seemingly small action, and a seemingly minuscule initiative could snowball and impact someone’s life in ways that we could never imagine.

One of the biggest ironies in life, and idiosyncrasies of Man has always been how we seem hope and seek to be make a difference, and yet forget about the seemingly simple and easily doable gestures which can really make a big difference in the lives of other people.

You don’t have to be a star or celebrity to effect change, really. All you need is a willingness to express appreciation and the initiative take the first step. After all, you don’t have to be “great”, to be great!

Be great by making a difference! Spread the joy now by sharing with them this video or this post. Or if you really want to get the pictures for your email, you may get them below! Otherwise (if you can wait) you can send me a mail and I’ll forward them to you! It might take awhile, but I’ll do my best!

Make someone smile today! Make a difference by telling them how they’ve made a difference in your life, today!

Don’t wait! Make a difference, today!

Continue reading You Make a Difference!

Power Failure – How Not to Use Your Body…

It has often been said that sound and words – the verbal and vocal aspects of communication, aren’t the only way to transmit and communicate ideas. And that’s true as far as the Vocal, Verbal and Visual trinity are concerned. Therefore, as speakers and presenters on stage, we’re often required to rely on not only the power of words and vocal variety, we’d often need to supplement them with our gestures, expressions, poise and general movements on stage.

Now, having shared with everyone earlier about the some of the moves that speakers can use on stage in my post on Power Moves, I’ve been receiving requests to follow up on that post with an entry of moves to avoid on stage. Now I use the word “avoid” because I’ve never believed in the concept of absolutes. The moves that I’m about to show you will have it’s uses in specific circumstances. However, their use should be kept to a minimal, if not zero, during general speeches and general circumstances.

So, now that I’ve got my disclaimer out of the way, let us start by examining some of the troublesome tendencies we have on stage: Continue reading Power Failure – How Not to Use Your Body…

The Power of Personality!

Oh dear me! I’d never thought I’d see such an example of personality on stage! And I’m glad I did!

You see, I’m not a big fan of television (amazing, considering how we used to be inseparable when I was younger), but as fate would have it, I switched it on today just in time to catch the latest episode of American Idol on tv! Now, I’m not a big fan of the series either. I’ve nothing against it, I’m just not glued to it. But, I’m so glad that I’d managed to chance upon it today – simply because of the example I want to show you pertaining to the power of personality on stage!

Yes! That episode got me so excited that I’ve decided to blog about it now (whilst I’m still in the middle of preparing for my examinations…)!

Alright, enough preliminaries! Here’s a quick lowdown of the episode to give you a little more information about what I’m all excited about: Continue reading The Power of Personality!

Keys to a Question – How to Sound Intelligent when Asking a Question?

I want to ask a Question!
I want to ask a Question!

How many of you have had the following experience: We listen intently to the mechanics and instructions during a lecture/briefing session and our brilliant brains identify a gap/question which needs to be addressed. Yet, gripped with fear and shyness, we let the questions pass… only to have them surface later during the course of our work, or allow a co-worker/rival steal ahead of us to “showcase” their wonderful thought process and impress the boss?

Breaking the silence and raising a question can be an extremely scary prospect. Sometimes, it’s really out of respect that we do not wish to rock the boat or question the speaker’s authority or intelligence that keeps us quiet. Other times, we’re just afraid of looking stupid because we’re afraid that we might ask the “wrong” question.

Well, regardless the reason for your fear, I’ve got news to share with you!:


(PS: And it could boost your perceived intelligence too! *winks*)

Won’t you like to find out how asking questions can be a painless and rewarding process? Check out the following keys you can use to ignite your question: Continue reading Keys to a Question – How to Sound Intelligent when Asking a Question?

Body Language in Action

I chance upon this gem whilst I was randomly surfing for Body Language on Youtube.

Here, we get to see three politicians campaigning and having their body language critiqued by body language expert Mark Bowden.

I think Mark’s analysis offers us a great deal of insight into the world of body language, and if you’re sharp enough, you would be able to see some of the techniques I spoke about in my earlier post on Power Moves at play.

Check out the video to see if you can spot those principles in action. Better still, see for yourself body language at work in campaigns, debates, and how it’s effective use can help the candidate win over the electorate.

After all, Mark says it best when he said: A voter may not understand all of the candidate’s policies or what they stand for exactly, but they may well trust it. And if they trust it, they will put an X. Otherwise, they will just leave it blank!

Check it out!

Be intrigued!

Everybody Wants to Be Entertained!

Everybody wants to be entertained. And when I mean entertained, I do not mean entertainment in the Russel Peters or Jerry Seinfield sense!

Entertainment is not necessarily confined to the field of humour. Horror, mystery, drama and fantasy are other forms of entertainment that appeal to the senses of people. Don’t you think so?
Continue reading Everybody Wants to Be Entertained!

Friend over ‘Stranger’

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you’re about to meet someone new?

Do likely scenarios of rejection flash before your eyes?

Do scenes of embarrassment strike fear into your heart?

Or does fear and uncertainty grip you?

Honestly, who/what exactly do you see when you approach someone whom you’ve never met before? Do you really see a stranger – a six-headed monster with razor sharp teeth who has the ability to inflict pain and embarrassment upon you – or do you really see a potential new friend, whom you have yet to meet, speak to, and spend good times with?

There is a key difference between the two. The perspective you adopt will determine the attitude and your course of action in dealing with these “new people”. Your course of action, would in turn determine the result you have with people.
Continue reading Friend over ‘Stranger’

Why Wait Till Death?

I was letting my thoughts run wild when suddenly a thought came to mind. It seemed to strike me that lots of words of appreciation and positivity seem to appear at the time of a person’s death. Words like “He was a good man, always eager to help and make a difference…” and “She was always there for me when I needed a listening ear…” etc.

Why is it that such words of appreciation seem to appear only upon a person’s death? Why do we reserve such powerful, moving words for times when the main characters whom these are dedicated to are gone? Why do we only speak of them when they’re no longer around?

It makes no sense! Here we are living, craving for appreciation and it’s emotional fulfillment, finding it hard to come by… only to receive it when we’re gone – when it no longer matters anymore!
Continue reading Why Wait Till Death?

10 Tips to Improve Your Speech

1. Speed Up, Slow Down

Varying your speed! You can slow down just before you reach the climax of your speech to add to the suspense. Or you can speed up to add drama and excitement to your story. Either way, you may add interest to your speech.

2. Vary your Tone

Same goes to your tone. You may use a high-pitched tone when describing a lady (or how your lady-boss howls at you at work) or a deep raspy one (like how Count Dracula might use to seduce his next victim).
Emulate a firm one for authority or a looser and relaxed on to generate that playful mood.

3. Vary your Volume

Increase your VOLUME to EMPHASIZE certain KEY words. Decrease it every now and then to make the audience strain to hear what you have to say.

Varying between the two can help you capture their attention whilst adding interest to the story you’re telling.

4. Pausing for Emphasis

This concept is pretty similar to varying your volume – somewhat. Have you noticed that the audience become particularly sensitive to their surroundings when silence is introduced suddenly in a room?

Wouldn’t you look up to check what’s going on the room when the speaker cuts off halfway in silence?

Make full use of this heightened sensitivity to drive home a key word or idea. The words or phrase following this silence should be as short as possible, preferably between 1 – 3 words, to avoid dampening the effect.

5. Eliminate Filler Words

Avoid using words like “Um”, “Er”, “Hmmm”. Generally, these words tend to convey a sense of uncertainty and suggest that you may be unsure of what you’re saying. These would definitely work against you during persuasive and/or sales speeches.

6. Smile!

Smiling (whenever necessary and appropriate) helps take fear away from your mind. Research has proven that a person’s state of mind may be affected by his physiology.

When you appear happy, confident and positive, your mind forgets about fear and you’re left to enjoy your presentation.

Smile and the whole world smiles with you!

7. Animate

Animate your message! In moderation of course. Gesticulate while trying to make point. Use your fingers to number your points “Firstly, Secondly, Thirdly etc”.

I’ve also realised how powerful facial expressions can be where it comes to animating your messages. Raise your eyebrows to depict surprise or shock. Or squint your eyes to depict scepticism.

There’re a thousand and one ways you can make use of your facial expressions to animate your message. Play around with your expressions and discover what your face can do by practising in front of the mirror!

8. Relax

Most of us are usually able to relate and speak to our family and friends without much difficulty.

Our minds perform best when they’re relaxed and free. Like our muscles, our tensing up can only lead to cramps, and it wouldn’t be nice to have a mental ‘cramp’ while your speaking!

Relax by taking deep breaths and focus on having fun!

9. Practise, Practise, PRACTISE!

Now if you’re still reading this, you may wonder – How may I relax and have fun if I’ve never done “this” before?!

“This”, of course, refers to speaking in public for the first time, or speaking frequently in public.

Well, to be completely honest, I didn’t enjoy the process of speaking when I first started too. IT WAS HORRIFYING!

But what I really enjoyed was the end product of speaking. I enjoyed knowing that I had taken a step that many others feared taking. And I enjoy having the knowledge that I’m a better person as a result of my act(s) of courage.

Now, I continually seek every opportunity to practise. Every act of courage I take propels me toward becoming a better speaker and person.

And I derive delight after each practice session!

10. Review

So is this a case of “Practise makes perfect”? – NO! It’s useless if you keep repeating the same mistake over and over again whilst hoping for a different a result!

Understand that there’s no perfect speech. Regardless of how good you are as a speaker, or how well delivered a speech was, there will ALWAYS be room for improvement.

Seek to improve yourself continuously. Review each speech session and see which areas you might need or want to pay greater attention to.

If required, record yourself and play it back for reviewing later.

Seek advice and feedback from your audience (where appropriate) to highlight blind spots.

Seek materials (like my blog! *winks*) to help you target specific areas for improvement!

Download the Complimentary Article on Winning With Fear to Speak with Confidence!

Power Sharing! Win Over a ‘Matchmaker’ in Less than 45mins!

Great! I’ve just go back from a Toastmasters meeting a local tertiary institution and got to meet several new people (and friends)! The meeting was an eventful one. But what’s really got me piqued about my meeting new people was this little after-meeting conversation that took place with my new friend on our way home.

You see, I’ve never met this young lady prior to today’s meeting, but over next 45 minutes as we journeyed our way home together, we managed to share about our lives in school, past relationships, plans for the future, hobbies and interests, little gripes about her boyfriend and (are you ready for this?), she even offered to recommend me a girlfriend! My, talk about the power of networking!

Now how did I build that rapport over a meagre 45 minutes? Simple, go read my posts on Networking and Positive Image and Impressions!

Now seriously, throughout the conversation, my new friend hinted that I was “hyperactive” and that it was “apparent that (I) held myself in high esteem”. All these while I’m exhausted after my earlier exertions for taking part in an earlier camp (which explains my hiatus over the past week).

Hyperactive? High self-esteem? Are these the known characteristics of an introverted man?

I doubt it. Yet, this was the impression I gave her.

I’m not saying that I lied to win her trust or her friendship. I didn’t. I answered all her questions honestly and truthfully. Yet, despite our difference in age (I’m about half a decade older than her) and difference in our educational backgrounds, we managed to connect. And now we’re friends!

Like what I mentioned in my earlier post in It’s All About You, building rapport will require you to look through the other person’s perspectives and responses and build upon them. It’s also important that you understand what kind of “communication language” that other person is speaking. Noting her youth and exuberance, I could have killed the conversation with my lectures on how to be a better speaker and/or life in university.

Yet, our dialogue was just that – a dialogue! We spoke and we laughed at each other, with each other. And we enjoyed each others’ company throughout the duration of the bus ride! No awkward silences or blank stares.

Now how’s that for a tip on winning friends (and a potential matchmaker) over to your side in less than an hour?