Ten years ago, former actor Peter Browne moved from Sydney to Singapore. His work took him from the stage, the world’s oldest medium, to working with companies at the cutting edge of mobile applications and social media.
One thing hasn’t changed: the need to tell a clear story with confidence. Peter’s mentoring gave the JFDI-Innov8 bootcamp participants a real edge when it came to presenting to investors.
“I worked with the start-ups for two months to prepare for Demo Day. My approach stems from my training and early career as an actor in Australia,” says Peter.
“In the first month we built a foundation – breath, voice and body awareness. Then we worked on the pitches – using vocal range and body movement to give impact, variety and clarity, and using breathing to control stress, nervousness and even memory loss. Of particular importance was our focus on articulation. For many teams from Asia, English is not their first language, so we explained how the mouth makes sounds – where to place the tongue for a ‘D’ or an ‘L’, how to make a soft or hard ‘S’.”
The Demo Day was a success but this was not Peter’s first encounter with the digital world.
“In 1997, I was working with a corporate events company in Sydney and we engaged Kevin Kelly, at the time, the editor of WIRED magazine, to speak at an IBM event for the Asia-Pacific region,” recalls Peter. “He talked of an online revolution about to erupt.”
Of course, in the years that followed, the dotcom bubble ballooned then burst, as the nascent internet’s challenges – bandwidth, connectivity, security, capacity and cost of infrastructure – failed to deliver functional businesses.
Today, many of these issues have been resolved and the online industry is again booming, with funds freely available. Instagram, Dropbox and AirBnB are outstanding examples of recent business success in the US.
According to Peter, “There is a massive change happening – and it’s not confined to the start-up space. For one of our corporate clients, a global financial institution, we are helping young innovators prepare a three minute video pitch of their technology innovations to a panel of executives.”
But, he argues, it is not all new. “Creativity and innovation have been the fuel for development for centuries. What is new is the speed at which change is possible,” says Peter.
“I can’t help remembering my grandmother’s confusion in 1969 as she grappled with the moon landing. In her lifetime she witnessed the development of the motor car, the aeroplane, space travel, radio and television.
“One day, I might also be wishing that life was so much simpler; remembering a time when a tablet was something you read, when every idea was in the cloud and when an apple was not something you ate, but the biggest company in the world.”
Peter’s company, Intangible Communications, worked with the JFDI-Innov8 Bootcamp 2012 to produce videos and conduct presentation training. This post is an edited version of an article which first appeared in the Australian Chamber of Commerce Singapore magazine.