I had two big surprises with Gleason Sensei last August: first is that he's so small. Second is that he's so strong.
I did the very exercise linked above with him and his movement does compel. The effects on uke are the result of his keeping a steady, light pressure on nage while nage moves.
In this exercise the amount of pressure on uke is very subjective. You may have presented a light push, but when I did it, it was more moderate to heavy - the result was no different, I was being moved by nage and my movements were not exaggerated at all. However, you hit the nail on the head with the comment that uke had to keep the pressure up if the exercise was to work.