Category Archives: Videos & Podcast

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.

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

Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive?

Gestures: To Point or Not to Point?

This is one of a series of articles written in response to the action taking place in Singapore’s General Election.

The aim of this post is to share with you lesson on public speaking – the good and bad – from Singapore’s potential representatives in parliament.

Please note that I do not know most of these people 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 my hope that my evaluations could help you in your growth and preparation for future challenges too.


Singaporeans who have been following the election rallies online would’ve seen several speakers in action. Some have commented that some appear and look sincere. Others commented that some appear high handed and aggressive.

I’ve had the chance to review some videos, and found a couple of examples, of how body language (and tone of voice, but we will not talk about that for the time being) contribute to the overall perception of a speaker and the impressions he gives others.

To help you gain a clearer understanding of what I’m talking about, have listen to the following speech for the text and content, and review it by watching the full video of the speaker in action.

Excerpt from the First Minute of Speech
Young voters of Sembawang

This is an important election for you

This is.. this election is about which party you trust to secure a better future for you

This election is about which party you think is more capable of doing the good job for you

And this election is about which party you want to achieve your dreams

As a young person 

I stand here today more excited and more optismistic about our future than never before

We stand here at the starting line of life

With a very good pair of running shoes

Now, let’s review the same speech and speaker, but with visuals of him speaking. Observe the difference: Continue reading Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive?

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



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Related Post:

1) Body Language in Action: Assertive or Aggressive

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

The AWARE Saga – Prelude to Leadership Fatalities

Courtesy of Lucious Young
Courtesy of Lucious Young

Those of you who’re in Singapore would be no stranger to the AWARE saga – an event (or some say coup) involving a Civil Society in Singapore that caught the young nation’s attention.

For those of you who are (*ahem*) unAWARE (pardon the pun), of what this is about, you may read on to find out more. Otherwise, you may skip this prelude to proceed straight to the lessons on Leadership Fatalities

Continue reading The AWARE Saga – Prelude to Leadership Fatalities

Leadership Fatalities – 5 Mistakes a Leader Must Never Make!

Image Courtesy of Channel NewsAsia
Image Courtesy of Channel NewsAsia

“The feeling in the room was electrifying. I still can’t get over the fact that we got Aware back. It is a great moral victory.”

– Constance Singam, past president of Aware

You would probably know the story by know. But I’d like to take the analysis of the Old Guard’s victory one step further and examine it under the microscope of communication and the fatal mistakes the New Guard made as leaders – for your benefit of course. (*winks*)

The following are 5 Leadership Fatalities that a leader must NEVER make: Continue reading Leadership Fatalities – 5 Mistakes a Leader Must Never Make!

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

PowerPoint Revolution!

Ditch PowerPoint?
Ditch PowerPoint?

The patience of audiences around the world are thinning rapidly. The number of PPT (PowerPoint Terrorists) sympathisers in the world are declining drastically too.

No longer content to sit back and be the subject of abuse, audiences from all over the world are beginning to make their voices heard – some say PowerPoint are more a of barrier than aid to learning. Others are calling for it to be ditched completely.

But should it?

Well, I’m no fan of boring presentations (who is!?) – and I’m definitely not for PPTs (I’ll send them a virus – not anthrax – if I have to keep them from speaking). But as a Trainer and Presenter (yep, I’m one of the good guys!), I recognise the immense value and potential PowerPoint can really give. So it doesn’t really make sense to ditch it now.

But all’s not lost. Led by our “Spiritual Leader” and fellow blogger, Olivia Mitchell, a team of bloggers have banded together to come up with ideas on “What I’d like to see in PowerPoint slide design in 2009”. That’s right – we’re starting a PowerPoint Revolution for you – and we’ll be sharing our views real soon. In the meantime, here’s what I would like to see in PowerPoint Slide Design in 2009: Continue reading PowerPoint Revolution!

How to Establish Connection and Engage Your Audience like Barack Obama?

Photo: Courtesy of Mikie Bones

I’ve been following the American election race for awhile now – not for the politics, but really for the opportunity of studying the quality of speeches and strategies used by the Presidential Nominees in their during their delivery and debates. Fully aware that I’m running the risk of sounding prejudiced, I must say that Barak Obama’s speeches has so far been top-notch and his manner of delivery has been both exact and

In most cases, I think he has done a fantastic job in revving and inspiring the crowd before carrying them on-board the “Obama-Express”. His meteoric rise has not come by accident though – and I’m not surprised – I credit a large part of his success to his ability to relate, connect and engage his audience. Not only has he been able to inspire and project credibility – he has also been able to entertain and speak with humility and sincerity.

But here’s the best part of listening to his speeches: I’ve been doing my research, and I’ve identified several strategies that you and I can learn to enhance our delivery skills. It’ll probably take some getting used to, but it’s really simple to learn. All you have to do is focused is focused on ONE small word to create a BIG.

Interested to know what’s it? Well, check out the video below and read the analysis! Continue reading How to Establish Connection and Engage Your Audience like Barack Obama?

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!

Crackling Standup Comic! – Australian Baggage by Rhod Gilbert

Alright… I couldn’t help it. It’s been one week since I last set foot in the comedy club but I haven’t been able to get the scene or the concept of stand up comedy out of my head!

In fact, I’ve been thinking about the strategies, the principles and the technique of delivery… more specifically, I’m thinking about the timing, the set up, the topics to use in a set… and who I can study to gain inspiration and insights into becoming a strong stand up comic…

Then, I found this video.

It’s a stand up comedy performance by a comedian from Wales performing in Australia. Here, have a look at it and try to keep a straight face until the end of it. Drop me a line if you can!


I think we can all agree that the comedian did brilliantly in the manner of his delivery and set up. Did you observe how he started off all stern and serious and leading the audience towards at state of solemness.

Then at the point of intense tension – he pulled out and executed his punchline: his broken luggage handle.

Observe how the comedian delivers punchline after punchline after punchline from then onwards – it’s a series of jokes weaved seamlessly into a story. Each joke is based on the last one and each is built with the help of exaggeration, absurdity and especially the incidences of cruel irony.

Let’s see some of the principles at work with the jokes he used:

1:00: “Then this arrived…”
2:23: “I’m thrilled to get this back” … “The thing is I’ll be here for two months!”
2:58: “Surely it would have gotten very light very quickly!”
*general actions, vocal tonality and animation of points to build tension and anticipation*

Cruel Irony:
1:30: “The first three times this went around, I laughed as well!”
3:32: “Does your luggage have any distinguishing features?”
*personal reaction to loss of luggage and its ‘recovery’*

2:04: Australian baggage officer’s query, “what seems to be the problem?”
2:25: I’m pretty sure I packed more than this
3:09: “Somebody packed for me and thought this is all I need?”
*concept of redundancy of airport protocol*

There’re several elements underlying the success of this stand up comic. Of the principles mentioned, his ability and sense of timing and delivery played crucial roles too, in addition to this ability utilize those tools as mentioned and more to his advantage. Very importantly too though, is his ability to conceptualise and weave his material together.

Whatever it is, however, the work that a stand up comic puts into preparing each performance is no laughing matter… and chances are, it’s going to take years, if not months, for one to get a sharper sense of what works and what doesn’t!

Still, for all you humorists out there who are seeking to have a firmer grasp of the concept of humour, continue studying comedians like Rhod Gilbert to gather more skills and techniques and sharpen your sense of timing and delivery!

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!

Power Moves! – 5 Tips to Make Body Language Work for You!

Gestures and Body Language are important and powerful tools which have in them, an immense potential and ability to affect the end effect of our speeches and presentations! When used appropriately, our body gestures may enhance and strengthen the effect and points of our speech! Used indiscriminately, they’re liable to dilute and dampen the power and effectiveness of our presentations.

So what are some of the positive gestures and body language you may adopt to enhance your public speaking performance for maximum impact? Continue reading Power Moves! – 5 Tips to Make Body Language Work for You!

Podcast: Speaksmart 2

Popular Podcast offering listeners insights and ideas on how we could improve our public speaking performances is back with Part 2!

As with the first installment, I found this podcast to be highly comprehensive and insightful! More importantly, the quality of the material and suggestions are EASY enough for most of us to understand and Implement in most of our EVERYDAY speeches and presentations.

I was particularly intrigued by Continue reading Podcast: Speaksmart 2