engaging an audience with music
Can a musical speaker make a corporate event better? Yes, definitely. Is using music just fluff, a non-important add on? No, definitely not.

Those are two strong statements.

And I’m making them with the hope that you’ll read on to learn the how’s and why’s of music’s role in reaching and holding an audience.

What Is A Musical Speaker?

A speaker who is focused on music is more than just a performer. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with a great musical performer at a corporate event. But a speaker brings something extra. He or she will deliver compelling content; a message with a beginning, middle and end. When music is the medium used to deliver a message, it’s powerful, emotional and engaging because music is powerful, emotional and engaging.

I’ve been a performer my entire life and that’s quite a few years. But it was fairly recently that I finally came into my own as a keynote speaker. It took a while to figure out how to combine what I do as a songwriter and performer with content that really resonates with a corporate audience. Interweaving music and speaking into an entertaining and educational presentation is an ongoing challenge. It’s a fun challenge but it definitely requires a specific skill-set.

  • An entertainer – A good speaker must be a good entertainer. If you’re bored who cares about program content? I believe that the ability to entertain and draw an audience in is foundational. So look for this first no matter what type of speaker you’re considering. And of course with a musical presentation, make sure the music is good!
  • An expert – A good speaker, musical or otherwise, better be an expert at something. And hopefully, an expert at what she or he is speaking about! I only accept speaking engagements for clients who’s goals align with my narrow area of expertise. I’m up for new challenges but I’m not going to come in and speak about astrophysics. For a speaking engagement to be successful, the speaker has to be comfortable delivering what they do best.
  • A listener – Whether it’s a rock concert or a speaking gig, the best presenters or performers truly engage with the audience. This requires two way communication or listening. When I’m in front of a group I spend as much time interacting as I do on stage talking. I’m involved and co-creating with the crowd. This draws people in and keeps them engaged. It creates better opportunity for people to absorb the content of a presentation.

But How Does Music Make It Better?

You’re already familiar with the importance of music as entertainment at a corporate event. You may be planning a band or a DJ for part of your conference. And you’re probably putting considerable time into deciding which song you want to use to accompany your opening or closing slide show. You already know that music creates emotional impact and touches people. You already recognize that music affects our feelings, energy level and our ability to learn.

So if you already understand the impact music has at your events, it’s not so much of a leap to imagine the positive impact music will have on the quality of your corporate speaking programs.

Think of how we use musical terms to describe attributes we aspire to for our conferences. Clients tell me they want to ‘set the tone’ of a meeting, or make sure everyone is ‘tuned in’ or ‘singing the same song’. Now imagine if you could actually use a musical speaker to literally set the tone or get everyone singing the same song…that’s inherently powerful.

  • Kill the boredom – A good musical presentation will get everyone feeling. And when you’re feeling it, you’re not bored. A musical keynote also sends a message that this is not the same ole’ run of the mill corporate event. It brings that out of the box element that draws people in and opens them up.
  • Finding the common denominator – There’s a great quote most often attributed to Duke Ellington, “There’s only two kinds of music, good music and bad music.” It doesn’t matter to much if your speaker leads a symphony orchestra, is an African drummer or a pop songwriter. Everyone relates to good music and will respond to the whatever genre your speaker presents. Good music is a common denominator that brings people together.
  • Creativity as a catalyst for innovation – I did a series of speaking engagements last summer, accompanied by a great guitar player I often work with. By the third event on our tour, we had a running bet. At each event, we’d bet how long it would take a speaker from the company we were working with to mention the term, continuous improvement. Everyone mentions continuous improvement because it’s important. And most importantly, the term implies the ability to innovate and to change. A musical presenter is that creative type you need to demonstrate and teach innovation to your workforce.
  • Collaboration – A musical presenter will bring a collaborative exercise to your event. When I deliver my interactive keynotes, everyone in the room works together to create a song about their organization. If you bring in a classical musician, you’ll participate in a program that involves individual performance, small groups working in sections and a unified final performance involving everyone. These are just two examples for using music as a metaphor for successful co-creation and collaboration.
  • Relevant content, tying it in – As a songwriter I’m a story teller. So when I have the opportunity to speak for a group, I’ll integrate my client’s specific themes and goals into the program through song lyrics. I recently worked with a drum leader who led a speaking presentation that enabled an organization made up of silo’d teams to experience the power of collaboration as they created a unified drum performance.

The opportunity for relevance and metaphor with music is endless. Music is a powerful way to deliver programs that amplify innovation, creativity, teamwork or deeper engagement.

A great musical speaker will use his or her specific style and expertise to bring your group an inspirational and memorable experience. Isn’t that all you want?

About Billy Kirsch

Billy is a Grammy & Emmy nominated, CMA & ACM award winning songwriter with numerous Top 10 hits to his credit. His team building programs and keynote speaking presentations help people tap into their creative abilities to become more innovative and engaged in their work. Clients include Fortune 100 companies and organizations throughout the world.