Making your rhetoric sing – keys to using music as hidden seducer in your speeches

Posted on 3 November 2015  |   Leave a comment

On 23 October 2015 at the Neue Mälzerei in Berlin, Marina Lacroix, a communication specialist at McKinsey, and Suzanne Levy, a speechwriter for the Dutch Minister of Education, Science and Culture, gave a presentation on the similarities between music and rhetoric.

These were their take-away lessons.

Let the music set the mood

  • Make a song a part of your speech – either by playing it, or by letting you speaker sing it
  • Music at the opening of a speech can set the mood
  • Music at the end of a speech can work as a climax
  • Ask your speaker for his or her favourite songs and use them

Play with expectations

  • Give your audience something familiar by keeping the first two parts of a triad very similar
  • Then give your audience something unexpected by making the third part of the triad rhythmically longer (think of Grieg’s Morning mood or Bernstein’s I feel pretty)

Move your audience

  • Use a graphic notation system to instruct your speaker on expression
  • Indicate pauses, tempo, pitch, dynamics and – importantly – emotion
  • Avoid monotony – open your (speaker’s) eyes to the wide range of expression of the human voice

Bring music into your words

  • Highlight the key messages in your speech by using rhythm
  • Define the mood in your speech and look for the best fitting rhythm or motive

You can listen to the full presentation here…

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