Practicing Backwards

Practicing Backwards

They say there’s no glory in practising but without practice, there is no glory.

I’d like to introduce you to a process that I’ve used frequently to practice my speech: Practising Backwards. It’s a process that makes deliberate practice much more bearable, and much more fun to do.

Practising Piano Backwards

Last week I bought a piano, and I fell in love with the instrument all over again. I used to train to be a piano teacher but failed when I quit playing in my teenage years. Those days, practising pages and pages of music scores were really tough, everyday practice is like a chore. Eleven years of that made me hate the piano for a while.

2018-06-29 09.57.47.jpg
Caption: the piano I bought last week.

This time though, I want to play the piano differently. I want to enjoy the journey of practising rather than just rushing to the end result, where I can play the songs after weeks of agony. Typically, practising old songs I can already play is easy, but practising new songs is really hard and require a lot of willpower. My fingers are so clumsy, the notes are so hard to read, especially when it’s not in the default scale of C Major.

I wondered, how do concert pianists practice their songs?

Turns out they practice the songs backwards1. Backwards? I can hear you ask. Like this?
Caption: next level body bending challenge2

No, that’s not what Practising Backwards means. It means rather focusing your attention on the end rather than the beginning. In terms of practising a song, first, you divide the songs into several sections, then only train on the last section until you’re 80% good. No need to be perfect, good enough is perfect. Then continue to the section before that.

Caption: I made two pencil marks to divide the music into two sections

Indeed, above is the current song I’m practising called Setsuko & Seita from Grave of the Fireflies (the saddest animation movie I’ve ever watched). The first few are the sections I haven’t practised much, so in this audio file (about 1.5 minute long) you can hear my hesitation at every single note I pressed in the first section. But when it gets to the next section, I’ve practised this well, and you can notice the difference in pace and confidence.

The result is much more joyful practice. For every new section that’s hard to do, you can get to the end of the song through the sections you’ve practised. It makes deliberate practice sessions much more bearable, even with one repetition, you’re guaranteed to reach the sections you’ve practised previously.

Apparently, this also corresponds with the peak-end rule whereby you would remember an experience based on the most intense points (the peaks) and how it ends.

This is cool! Where else can I apply this technique?

Practising Presentation Backwards

Memorising a presentation is another task I loathe. I love speaking fluently, but that’s only possible with some practice. In presentations, many research papers have also suggested that the end conclusion is usually what people will remember, so it makes sense to practise on that first rather than practising from the beginning.

For memorising a five-minute speech, I divide it into four sections, so a section is around 1-2 minutes. Record each section, add a sentence from the previous section and the next section for the sake of integration to other sections later.

Then the practising starts. At first, all I can do is to listen, but by the second time, I can start miming my mouth to start saying stuff together. When I think I’m ready to step it up, I play the recording a lot faster3, just like when I play the familiar section on the piano.

When I practice the next section, indirectly I’m practising the last section too, because the second last section leads to the last section. If I have a little bit more energy and willpower, I don’t continue onto the section I’ve already practised, I’ll repeat the new section again.

Somehow, the technique works so well that I’ve used it to memorise three songs in a weekend. One of my coaching clients also tried this technique while she was stuck in a 6-hour flight without being able to utter much. And by the time she landed, she has memorised 15 minutes speech word-by-word without saying a word out loud.

Practising is tiring, but it can be made enjoyable. Your brain enjoys practising on things you’re already good at, and that’s why practising backwards work. It ends the practice session on the most enjoyable note.

Someone wise once said: Don’t practice until you get it right. Practice until you can’t get it wrong.



  1. How to Memorize Music Quickly and Effectively – Josh Wright Piano TV 
  2. Backwards piano player (as seen on Ellen!) 
  3. Playing slower will help build the myelin according to this video from TED: How to practice effectively…for just about anything – Annie Bosler and Don Greene 
Get Sandwich and Klarna working together to elevate salespeople into best-sellers

Get Sandwich and Klarna working together to elevate salespeople into best-sellers

Today is an exciting day for Get Sandwich! We are letting the world know a big step we took a few months ago and it involves one of Europe’s largest banks.

In this link you can see Breakit’s report about the announcement, and the full press release you can read here:


Get Sandwich and Klarna working together to elevate salespeople into best-sellers


Get Sandwich Speaking AB, an innovative public speaking video platform, today announced it is collaborating with Klarna Bank AB (Klarna), to deliver a next-generation sales training collaboration platform. Get Sandwich is the first video library to offer support for Klarna’s result-focused methodology. The partnership complements Klarna’s rapid growth, with the goal of supporting its sales workforce every step of the way.

Get Sandwich is a video library for teams to sell with authenticity. The collaboration between Klarna and Get Sandwich  began in September 2017 when Klarna identified a need to provide more hands-on tools to their sales workforce.

Get Sandwich’s video platform has provided Klarna sales workforce the ability to learn, collaborate and update each other through their mobile, whenever and wherever. Now, Klarna Sales can get rich in-person feedback without the need of setting face-to-face meeting.


“Complex selling has become the norm for us,  and as we grow our business globally, we seek innovative solutions to onboard and grow our people faster. We are delighted to have Get Sandwich to help us meet this training need.”, says Filip Lam, Klarna’s Learning and Development Manager. “Get Sandwich has demonstrated what it takes to work in the same pace as we do; At lightning speed”.


“We have learned so much from working with Klarna in the last few months. Their dedication to provide world class training for their sales workforce is second to none, and it inspires us to do better everyday.”, says Martha Winata, CEO of Get Sandwich. “We think they’ve made the right choice and we’re excited to see future collaborations stemming  from this partnership.”

Get Sandwich went online on February 2017 with an official launch on December 2017. It is fulfilling a need for reducing anxiety of public speaking in selling, pitching and presenting. It provides constant feedback so that people can be better at their field and what they do.

It was started by a couple as co-founders, Martha Winata, and Min’an Tan. Martha is an Australian and Min’an is a Singaporean but they have been calling Stockholm home in the past 4 years.


Each team in Get Sandwich has a private secure zone to record their speaking practices, where in turn, they will be evaluated through a mix of structured and semi-structured metrics, resulting in vast improvements within a very short period of time.


For further information, please contact

Martha Winata




About Klarna

Klarna was founded in 2005 in Stockholm, Sweden with the aim of making it easier for people to shop online. Klarna is now one of Europe’s largest banks and is providing payment solutions for 60 million consumers across 89,000 merchants in 14 countries. Klarna offers direct payments, pay after delivery options and installment plans in a smooth one-click purchase experience that lets consumers pay when and how they prefer to.


About Get Sandwich

Get Sandwich offers a new and better way for teams to sell, pitch and present with authenticity. Founded in 2017, Get Sandwich is used to help scale team’s high-performing excellence. All speaking practices get recorded and mined for constructive peer-to-peer feedback. Customers include, TEDxStockholm, SUP46 and Toastmasters clubs in stockholm.

2 secret ingredients for a memorable research talk | Nancy Kanwisher [Video]

2 secret ingredients for a memorable research talk | Nancy Kanwisher [Video]

Nancy Kanwisher’s TED talk from 2014 has been watched by over a million people. It’s a good example of how to make information heavy, research talk accessible to the general public.

Although the talk is not that long, less than 12 minutes, it’s packed with newsworthy information you can easily recall next month if you happen to talk about brains in the pub. Dr. Nancy starts the talk with a strange phenomenon of people not being able to recognise their own children, inviting people’s curiosity to listen more. She then wastes no time and jumps directly to a video of a guy being experimented upon.

Prior to playing the video, she explains what you are about to see. This is the key to success.
Her explanation prepares you for what you’re about to see. So that when you watch the videos, you never wonder what the words on the screen mean, and the connection between her as a speaker, and you as her audience was never lost. Never in the talk, that you feel she has abandoned you for showing random pictures or videos on her slides.
This is the key to success, in one word, it’s control. She’s in control, and you feel safe under her lead.

All videos on her slides are so integrated with her words that it feels like she’s drawing the parts of the brain with her colour pencils as she speaks.
When you have a research-heavy topic, the best you can do is to rely as much as possible on images and analogies throughout your story, and even better, animate those pictures as videos and show them directly on the slides. Embed them all to reduce the chance of any technical problem. You will then make the ingestion of ideas so effortless. When it’s easy to digest, people’s recall ability increases.

Note that she doesn’t do much to set up curiosity, the flow of the talk was carried through simply by her smooth control of the pace and the animations on her slides. When you need to speak to inform, try to make your slides as interactive as possible, and don’t underestimate what can be done using videos, even without much dialogue. Pictures are more powerful than words.

A word of caution though. The moment the audience feels that the speaker is not in control and that they are just watching a series of random photos, the enchanting spell will be broken. You need to always know why you this information is important. Otherwise, you won’t wait until the last word before you check your twitter feed. There are plenty of videos there, too.

So that’s it everyone, to do a good research talk, pay attention to control and animated slides. If you like this video, please click like so that more people will see it and subscribe.


Watch the talk itself here:

An impostor the world craves listening to

An impostor the world craves listening to

Your boss asked you to speak, to present on stage. You grabbed it, didn’t want to miss out on an opportunity. Maybe this would lead to the next promotion, you never know.

But that was last week.

Now you think that you have nothing good to say, you think that you’re an impostor, everything that you’ve done up until this point is just because of luck. Whoops, they are going to find out soon, you think.

To prep, you watch other people speaking. You think that you can speak about the topic more eloquently, maybe more thorough and clearer. You know what questions everyone has in their minds, and in this talk, you’re watching, the presenter just doesn’t get it.

But as you try to put your thoughts together, structure it together, answer those audience questions you thought you knew well, the bridges collapse and now you’re in the middle of an island. Worse, it’s a no man’s land.

Where you don’t know who you are anymore, and not sure why these people should be listening to your presentation tomorrow.

So you gave up, you stuff your slides with bullet points to guarantee your delivery (noooo!). After all, if you’ve just read from the slides for an hour, no one can blame you. Your boss can’t fire you, you did the work!

But you know deep down inside, you have much more to say, you can help more people, but you’re at lost on how to start, how to practice the presentation, how to practice to be a better you?

If you’ve felt this before? Then welcome to the gang, I’ve felt like an impostor every minute of my life. You’re not alone. But just by being able to access the internet, you are way ahead than everybody else on this planet. And your experience, your stories, your insight matters.

Speak your mind. It may help one other person, it may help a large group of people, or it may just save a life.
Speak your mind, because you can definitely beat that fear of being misunderstood. Don’t let it paralyzed you.
Speak your mind, serve the world by not acting small, and everybody will listen closely.


Do your worst. Just. Do.

Do your worst. Just. Do.

They say do your best. Whatever you do, do your best.

Everyone says it again and again, so it must be right. But what if I told you it’s misleading. The most important part of the phrase lies in the very first word.




Don’t just sit there. Do.

Refrain from thinking, or planning, or strategizing. Just. Do.

Do put up your hands for speaking up, do volunteer to speak at your local meetups, do practice your talk in front of a mirror.


In fact, doing your worst is better than doing your best because best implies perfection, but perfection is the enemy of progress. The enemy of doing.

If you start doing, I promise you those butterflies in your stomach will start to fly in formation. One by one.


What have you been putting off in favour of thinking?

Do you think grammar is the problem?

Do you think grammar is the problem?

Last week I was talking to a friend about his presentations, and I asked him what’s the next thing he’d like to work on to improve his talk.

“I think it’s my grammar. I need better grammar”, he said. English is not his first language.

“Better grammar to speak? But I can understand you just fine.”, I said.

He shook his head, he told the story of him nervously presenting his dissertation in front of his supervisors, and how much anxiety it caused him.

“Why grammar?”

He said he wanted to articulate himself better. Focusing on grammar allows him to do that.




Yesterday I had a Swedish lesson. I’ve tried so many times to learn it and I constantly failed. In the past, I’ve asked the teachers to focus more on grammar. I need to know that I’m saying the right things.

I don’t want to be misunderstood. I hate being misunderstood.

When people ask me how long I’ve been in Sweden, I either said four months or four years. It depends.

With this new teacher, I told her that I want to listen and speak, no need for much grammar lessons. I just want to speak Swedish in a safe environment, so I would speak knowing that I would be misunderstood.


Grammar is tricky, grammar is hard to master, but don’t let that distract you from working on your actual presentation.

Going through your own presentation, polishing the stories and structuring your thoughts is tougher. Because then you have to fix your own logic, your own mind.

And there are no rules of grammar to help guide you. You have to make those rules yourself.

And if you don’t fix it, your presentation won’t make sense to others, since it doesn’t make sense to you.


Don’t get distracted. It’s not grammar, my friend.