Category Archives: Values and Beliefs

Building Confidence with Competence

It took me a long time overcome and manage my fears. Yes, I do this for a living, and I still get butterflies in my stomach. The difference between me now and when I first started, is I’ve managed to get those butterflies to really calm down.

How did I do it?

I subscribe to the mantra that Confidence comes from Competence. Naturally, experience helps too.

The key is, with experience and competence, I’ve managed to create a structured system on how to start and deliver, and reduce the uncertainty I face when I’m on stage.

Certainty is key to confidence. If you’re not sure about what to expect, then you’ll naturally be scared (of the unknown).

So, the best way to learn, in my opinion, is to not only learn about what works, but also to put it into practice.

That’s because, the more you experience it, the more you internalize it – and you realize that it’s really not so bad at all.

PS: I won over 25 Public Speaking Awards in the first 5 years of my public speaking journey. The skill is always work in progress. It doesn’t mean that you have to be perfect when you start. Neither should you deem yourself as terrible and hopeless if you can’t speak.

We’ve all got to start somewhere. The sooner we start, the better!

‪#‎publicspeaking‬ ‪#‎fear‬ ‪#‎uncertainty‬ ‪#‎confidence‬ ‪#‎experience‬

3 Tips to Boost Your Confidence

I cam across this video on Boosting Confidence by TED-Ed.

I must say they are simple and easy to understand, and I’ve personally used or adopted them when I was (and still am) learning about public speaking.

These are useful tips, as they are genuine principles that work.

The video takes slightly more than 4mins to complete, but will have significant impact on the way you approach learning, application and making decisions.

So check it out!

Also, join the public speaking and art of influence community in our Public Speaking & Art of Influence facebook group.

Learn more lessons, interact with my team and gain more insights into Public Speaking and The Art of Influence.

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

Five Important Lessons We Can Learn From Flappy Bird

This is old news. If you haven’t heard, an insanely addictive game going by the name of “Flappy Bird” swept through the world over the last year. Rumour has it that it garnered over 50 million downloads across both the App and Google Play stores. The game was so successful, that it began raking in $50,000 per day for its developer.

Yet early this week, its developer decided to pull the plug on it. News has it that the game became so popular… because it looked so simple, and yet was so difficult to play, made it exceedingly addictive to play.

I should know. I played it too – two days before it was taken down.

Since my acquaintance with the game, I’ve come across a wide array of people people who’ve celebrated as well as condemned it. I can see and appreciate both perspectives – and I refuse to be drawn into taking sides.


It’s because I see the value behind the game, and have drawn important life lessons from it. Here are my top five:

#1 Flappy Bird Teaches You the Value of Persistence

I’ll admit… the game has probably ‘stolen’ up to four hours of my life. On a late Saturday night out with my buds to catch a football match on TV – all it took was for one of us (okay… me) to download the game. Before we knew it, all the mobile devices had flappy bird on it… and we spent close to two hours on the game… and by game, I didn’t mean the football match.

For close to two hours, the five of us us strived to outdo each other in high scores department. There were moans, groans and lots of swearing each time ‘flappy’ died.

Did we give up?


I’m no super high scorer, really. In fact, I’m not keen to get into triple digits just for the sake of it.

Instead, I recognize that through persistence and practice, we get better at some thing we put our minds to… and that makes a difference.

Lesson: Persistence matters.

Lesson #2: Practice is Only Half the Story

Instead, our scores got higher. The few of us who banded together even shared learning ‘secrets’ to outdo “the other”.

I’ll admit, my progress was really slow. But until my pair of buds decided to let me in on a little secret of theirs (they were the top two scorers) I was close to the bottom… constantly frustrated and annoyed by another irritating friend of mind.

One simple little tip later, I doubled my score and I became the annoying bugger baying for blood.

Lesson: Practice doesn’t make perfect if you don’t know what to do.

The same goes to the many things we aim to do in life. We can spend hours practicing… but until you know what to do, you might not be doing it right.

#3 It’s ‘Fun’ When You See it as a Challenge

I use open inverted commas here because I know some people will disagree.

I understand the game can be is incredibly frustrating. The curious question however, how did so many of us get addicted to it?

I believe the secret lies in seeing it as a challenge.

We believe that we can do it – and so we put our hearts, minds and souls into doing better each round.

The result (after many hours) is that there will be results – because we’ve invested time, effort and thought into it… and witnessing progress can be really gratifying and addictive.

Lesson: Our our personal development journey can be so so much more gratifying once we start looking at it as a challenging game.

#4 It You Get the Hang Of It After Awhile

I’m going to admit that I kept crashing into the pipes, I struggled to get pass the 10th point on several occasions (to put it nicely).

Looking back, I realized my rhythm was off and I struggled with my timing to ‘tap’. That’s, in comparison to how I approach the game now.

I realized I can easily get beyond the 30-40 mark now without actively thinking about when to tap. I’ve worked up a rhythm… a routine on when to tap so that I do not crash and navigate through the maze almost seamlessly.

Lesson: Like most skills in life, practice makes progress. Once you commit the process to the sub-conscious level, you don’t have to actively think about it any more… and that makes working the skill so much easier.

Think of how you learned to ride the bicycle, drive or swim – the process is similar.

# 5 It’s All About Focus 

Again, I’ve another admission: I struggled with my ability to focus my attention on the game when I first started. Mainly because there were so many things going through my mind.

Yet through consistent practice (trials, to be exact), the process took effective and my mind became conditioned with the routine. Like #4 – I don’t have to actively think about what I need to do any more, my hands get the job done, and I’m able to block out distractions that render me ineffective.

In a related article, I’ve read about how so many people have written extremely critical letters to the game creator blaming him for their addiction. I find it ironic… because (I feel that) the game has taught me how to cure my own addiction to distractions.

It’s for that reason I’m comfortable and able to put my phone down to pen this article.

Lesson: A key to getting things done is the ability to focus. The ability to “focus” is a skill – and by that definition it can be honed.

Don’t blame your addiction / inability to focus on somebody else. The buck stops with you.


Too many people give up, not due to of a lack of knowledge, but due to a lack of commitment… due to a lack of belief – either in the outcome, or the effort they’re putting in.

The key however, is recognizing that time, thought and effort do pay off as long as we we’re willing to acknowledge the progress we’re making, and continue to push our boundaries.

The fact that we are willing to put up with such an incredibly frustrating game… and push our boundaries on it… is enough proof that as long as we put our minds to something, we can become better at it.

The same principle applies to confidence building, relationships and public speaking.

As the saying goes, it’s mind over matter. If you don’t mind it, it doesn’t matter.

Are You an Influential Communicator?

Presentation Maestro

One of the few people that consistently come to mind, when I ask participants at my workshop who they thought was a great speaker, would be the late Steve Jobs. Make no mistake about it, hate him or love him, he did set the stages he graced alight and abuzz whenever he took to it.

Many people wondered if it was just the “Mac” factor, the undeniable success brought forth by line of sexy and elegant gadgets that Apple has come to be known for.

Or was there more?

Continue reading Are You an Influential Communicator?

Singapore By-Election Aftermath: 5 Communication Tips for Campaigning Candidates

Hougang By-Election, Politics Singapore
Photo taken off Channel News Asia

Those of you residing in Singapore would probably know the story. It was a breathtaking two weeks of hustings with a local by-election in the electoral division of Hougang. For quite an extended period, the Opposition Workers Party seemed to be on its back foot as talks of party disunity, indiscipline and issues of integrity dominated the headlines.

Political observers, initially in unison in their analysis that despite it being the opposition’s stronghold, a number of voters could be swayed to support the ruling party, due in part of reasons why the by-election was called for in the first place. Yet, as allegations and issues surrounding the opposition party and its members surfaced, the ruling party seemed to jump on unto the bandwagon to amplify the issues in a bid to whip and collect political advantage.

Unsurprising I would say. It’s politics. It’s a game of one-upsmanship. Why let your opponents go, when you can use the opportunity to show the world, the audience – your voters – that your opponents are not up to the mark? That their quality, or or abilities are not up to par, or even their arguments and proposals are fundamentally flawed?

Unfortunately, what seemed to be a natural, political move, seems to have backfired, again, and the electorate returned the constituency to the opposition, margin of 62.09% to 37.91% of the total number of eligible votes.

Political commentators responded in their analysts, that the ruling PAP should’ve and could’ve narrowed down the margin… but the PAP’s constant harping on integrity issues and their attempts to pull down their opponents suggested that the ruling party “hadn’t learned their lesson” since the last General Elections.

Now I’m no political whiz, and my interest lies more in my country’s future than in political affiliations (i.e, I will vote for the best candidates available to me, after careful analysis of what they both stand for, and not necessarily along party lines).

However, based on my analysis as a speech coach and speaking strategist, it is my view that the old method of mudslinging at campaigns is over. Personality attacks simply do not work anymore, and whilst enough noise may still be generated from a sizable electorate in larger countries, the truth is that positive personalities… people who are likable are tend to draw crowds towards them and their ideas like moths to a flame.

The point in contention here isn’t just about content. You can give the best speech in the world… but nobody will buy it if they don’t trust you, and if they don’t trust you, they won’t like you, and if they don’t like you, they won’t buy you or buy from you.

Nobody cares about how much you know, until they know how much you care – John C. Maxwell

It’s not only a battle of minds, for minds, but also a battle for hearts.

I’ll be the first to acknowledge, that Continue reading Singapore By-Election Aftermath: 5 Communication Tips for Campaigning Candidates

The One Rule You Must Know If You Want to Be A Better Speaker

Too many people spend too much time trying to perfect something before they actually do it. Instead of waiting for perfection, run with what you go, and fix it along the way…

– Paul Arden – International Best Selling Writer

Many a times, many people think themselves to death when they think about public speaking. They shudder when they think about what other people might think of them on stag. They cringe and cry, paralyzed by over analyzing the situation. Then they give up – running away is always easier.

So much for learning a skill! Continue reading The One Rule You Must Know If You Want to Be A Better Speaker

iSalute to a Legendary Visionary

The world woke up to a startling reality today. The world lost a revolutionary leader… a legend who, through his passion and brought on a new era in technological development and living with technology.

Russian President, Dmitri Medvedev, said: ‘People like Steve Jobs change our world.

American President, Barack Obama, said: He transformed our lives, redefined entire industries, and achieved one of the rarest feats in human history: he changed the way each of us sees the world.’

Even Bill Gates, founder of rival company Microsoft paid tribute to Steve Jobs as one who ” has had a profound impact  on the world, the effects of which will be felt for many generations to come”

Love him or hate him, nobody can deny impact and imprint Steve Jobs had left on the on world, on technology, and on our lives.

For me, he was more than the chief designer of my favorite techs: my iPhone 3G (yes… and I have not decided if I would like to get my hands on the 4S) and my MacBook Pro – the first computer I’d fully bought for with money I earned.

To me, he was a visionar leader and role model who epitomized the qualities and person I strive to be: Passionate, Resolute, Charismatic and Eloquent. Did I mention too that he was a visionary?

Perhaps, what struck me hardest about Steve Jobs, was his resilience in pursuing a dream and vision, and putting across to the people he worked with, and to the world. As a Communications Coach and Presentation Skills Trainer, his speeches are the object of my intense research and analysis – and I continue to derive new strategies and techniques simply by watching him speak.

To me, he was more than a businessman – he was an artist – and few would disagree, that there are very few in the world who could marry Art, Technology and Business together successfully… and I continue to admire him for his craft and personality for making things happen and for keeping things fresh and exciting.

Perhaps then, that’s why the world continues to be enchanted by Apple and its products. It’s Steve’s spirit of “Impossible is Nothing” and “Just Do It” personified – traits that even Adidas and Nike have to bow down to respect.

Tim Cook, Steve Job’s success as CEO Apple, paid tribute by saying that “Steve Jobs left behind a company that only he could’ve built, and his spirit will forever be the foundation of Apple…”

In my opinion, I think Steve Jobs has left more than that. To that extent, I would like to leave you with arguably the best speech he has ever presented to – the three life lessons and stories he told to the world on a elevated Stanford Stage.

To all his admirers, those who admire good speakers and those who yearn and are fighting for a better life the message is simple:

Keep Going! Follow Your Heart!

Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish.

Here’s wishing you all the best in your public speaking and personal development journey.


Gary Guwe
Your Public Speaking Coach


In tribute and celebration of a Life Well Lived

The Biggest Lesson You’ll Ever Learn About Stage Fright to Become A Better Speaker

So the stage is set – you’re going to stand before an audience and you’re going to have to “say a few words”. Whether it’s for the big presentation before business associates, or deliver a speech at a seminar, or play a bit-part as an emcee, you cannot escape the fact that you’re going so speak before a group of people – people who have the will and ability mock, ridicule and criticize you should anything go wrong…

Your head begins to swirl with thoughts of what may come…

… “What if I forget my lines?’
… “What if I’m boring?”
… “I don’t know what to say!”
… “What will I do if I flunk?”
… “What if others laugh at me?”
… “What if others don’t laugh at me?”

The list goes on…

Isn’t that just wonderful how creative we can get when it comes to finding possible problems of failure… yet we can’t seem to find a way forward to help us succeed on stage?

Well, if it’s any consolation, you’re not alone when it comes to stage fright.

Millions of people face a similar problem when they’re asked to take the stage too. Many freeze and faint. Others choose to take flight – avoiding public speaking like the plague, while a minority choose to fight for a chance to win in spite of the fear.

But guess what, I’m here to tell you today that it’s not all doom and gloom. In fact, it’s not public speaking that you’re afraid of but Public Embarrassment.

Let’s face it, we’re all afraid of making a fool of ourselves, of jeopardizing our careers, or just plain getting ridiculed and humiliated before other people… especially those you know and those who matter.

Good news though, that’s where the bad news end. Since you’re not really afraid of public speaking, you don’t have to run away from it.

In fact, it’s going to make it much easier to confront the issue and work your way up on it! After all, if you’re afraid of looking bad by doing a bad job of speaking, then focus on working on your skills so that you do a good job and stand out!

So here’s the most important lesson you’ll have to learn about Stage Fright – You’re not afraid of Public Speaking, but Public Embarrassment.

And the answer to your your problem – You can tackle “Stage Fright” by becoming a better and more skillful speaker – because then you know you can call on various skills to do well on stage.

How do I know? Because I’ve done it myself. Want to know how I overcome my intense shyness and innate introversion? The following is a recommendation and summary of a six-step process you can follow to start working on to boost your confidence and ability.

Continue reading The Biggest Lesson You’ll Ever Learn About Stage Fright to Become A Better Speaker

Communication Beyond Affection

Family - Courtesy of job_earth (Flickr)

For those of you (Singaporeans) who have had the luxury and opportunity to tune in to the local television network lately, you may have noticed a new family campaign going on.

The campaign – more specifically the video – aims to strengthen family bonds and encourage the spirit of filial piety amongst the generation that grew up with the internet and culture of individualism.

Whether intentional or note, the video has sparked quite a debate about the issue of the individual wants vs family needs, the values of the young vs the old, and the issue of ‘reason’ versus ‘

Essentially, it highlights the different perspectives embraced by different generations and challenges the viewer to think and question deeper about family and how an individual reacts / should react in relation to an elder.

Curious to know what the fuss is all about?

Here’s the video:
Continue reading Communication Beyond Affection

Why Struggle When You Can Share?

Dare to Share
Dare to Share

I got to read a really touching story in the local newspaper lately which really reminded me of the time I spent with my mother too. (See post)

Besides reminding me of my own story, I thought this article might be a worthy read for you too. Take some time to read the article below and reflect upon it and your life.

Here it is… Continue reading Why Struggle When You Can Share?

5 Essential Principles You Must Know For Success on Stage

Courtesy of Flikr and the monk
Courtesy of Flikr and "the monk"

I was coaching a friend on public speaking a couple of weeks back when we were addressing about her public speaking anxiety. In her own words, her mind would go blank, she’d freeze and get paralyzed, and she’d suffer from panic attacks thinking about her impending doom… erm… I mean presentation *winks* for weeks to come.

Sounds familiar?

Anyway, we were talking and analyzing her anxiety attacks when it dawned upon me that she held several misconceptions and “displaced faith” towards public speaking.

Now let me clarify, she’s an educated, insightful intelligent and hardworking individual who knows what she wants and what she’s doing. The only problem is that she’s been so active at avoiding speaking up for so long now that she’s forgotten how speak!

In fact, I even remarked (to her) that she has been doing a great job at whatever she’s been doing for the past couple of years! Just think about it – She’s been so successful hiding, she’s successfully taught herself to run away from speaking!

Still, more importantly, the insights and concerns she shared with me about her fear, however, helped me crystallize some of the major lessons I’ve learned about public speaking and the concept of fear! And I thought it would be great to share them with you too!

So here it goes: Continue reading 5 Essential Principles You Must Know For Success on Stage

Susan Boyle: A Story of Talent, Persistance and Belief

Who is Susan Boyle?
Who is Susan Boyle?

If I’ve said it once, I’ve must have said it a thousand times: our mindset is fundamental to our success and failure.

Wouldn’t you agree?

Our mindsets pave the way for us to move forward, allows us to pursue opportunities and open up new doors to progress… and overcome adversity and challenges.

Talent, skill and ability are irrelevant if one does not have the right attitude and mindset…

Never mind that one may harbor false hopes and misplaced beliefs every now and then – making mistakes is just another way of learning. But it’s my assertion and belief that you’ll never know until you do attempt it.

It takes courage, definitely. But you’ll be surprised what gems or golden opportunities you might uncover because you dared to venture into places that others fear to thread.

And there’s no simply no stopping you when your talent and abilities meet the opportunity.

This lady in the following video offers such a case in point. She’s almost half a century old, unemployed, and has never had the opportunity to pursue her dream of singing. And as compared to the divas that grace the stages in the modern entertainment industry… she is by far less endowed.

She is Susan Boyle – a singer-wannabe who made her an appearance on stage during the talent show Britain’s Got Talent. She was asked to share her dream – she replied: to be like Elaine Paige, a famous English singer and actress.

The judges were unconvinced. The audience laughed. Some smirked. Too many wannabes had come, boasted and failed.

Would she be another William Hung who had truly believed that in what he had to give? Let’s find out: Continue reading Susan Boyle: A Story of Talent, Persistance and Belief

Shy Speaker’s Interview on Radio 938Live – Q&A to Share!

Behind the scenes at 93.9Live
Behind the scenes at 93.9Live

And so we have it! The author of this blog got to share his views on public speaking on national radio! Now how many speakers can claim to have done that! (*winks*)

Alright, just let me bask in that moment of glory for awhile I revel in that experience. Well, to say the least, it was a really eventful experience. I was told by Stanley, the presenter and producer of the talkshow: The Living Room, to standby for a few calls to come in – it’s a Live show after all – but not to keep my hopes too up high because listeners usually don’t. He went on to add that listeners usually only call when there’s a health expert on the show…

Oh well, what the heck. Not that it really mattered. Stanley had already prepared a list of questions to ask me anyway… and so we began.

If the old adage that “Public Speaking is number one fear that supersedes the fear of death” is anything to go by, this interview certainly proved it. Because we had… not one – but two listeners who called with questions for me! Imagine that!

It was an a pleasant surprise. And an honour. Celebrities have gone on the show without a single call coming in… so I consider myself privileged to address the concerns of two callers. And for your benefit, I’m going to post their questions here so that you can benefit from the interview too. Here they are: Continue reading Shy Speaker’s Interview on Radio 938Live – Q&A to Share!

Time and Effort Does Make a Difference

I used to laugh at him when I heard him speak in school – because he didn’t know how to.

But today – I’m impressed

It’s been close to 5 years since we last met in school. We’d been to the same schools for close to 6 years. Although we’d been in different classes, we were aware of each others’ presence – mostly because of our small cohort sizes. But she heard me speak – in public – mainly because of the time when I was tasked to appeal to the entire school – on stage – for donations for the less privileged.

She laughed at me. Or so she said.

I can’t remember – I can’t even remember what I said! I was that nervous. And I’m glad I survived that experience relatively unscathed. That’ll probably explain why I can’t remember a single thing now – because I was more interested in getting down the podium than on my message!

Speaking of stage fright!

Yet, 4 years on things things have changed.

No longer was the laughter the reaction of ridicule – it was the result of the execution of the game plan. The applause was given then not because I was about to leave the stage – but because I’d been on stage… and I noted then the vast difference that time and effort in training makes.

* * *

Ever wondered if the time and effort you put into an activity is worth it? I have. All the time!

Yet, I think every venture requires a little bit of faith and a lot of perseverance: faith to take the first step and both to help you pull through when times are tough.

For everyone who struggled or are struggling in various stages in life, or are in the process of taming those dragons in your public speaking adventure, remember this:

Your investment of time and effort is worth it!

And in the words of the 1999 World Champion of Public Speaking, Craig Valentine puts it: The very people who put you down, will be amongst the first to pat you on your back when you make it.

Keep the faith. Your time and effort will be worth it.