When you’re preparing for a presentation and you’re looking for some extra inspiration, what do you do?
Maybe you read a book about leadership presence. Perhaps you watch a TED Talk or two. But have you ever tried listening to music?
Yes, you actually can learn a lot about good speaking by listening to good music. Here are three reasons why speaking is like music:
One of the reasons why speaking is like music is the importance of rhythm. Obviously, rhythm is absolutely fundamental to music. Rhythm keeps the listener engaged and is pleasing to the ear. The type of rhythm will vary depending on the genre, but it’s hard to craft a catchy tune without great rhythm.
Just as you can’t have great music without rhythm, you can’t have great speaking without rhythm, either. How can you use rhythm in speaking?
One of the ways you can use rhythm in speaking is with a rhythmic build. A rhythmic build is a group of three phrases that repeat the same words in the same parts of each phrase. For example, “Your speaking needs rhythm. Your speaking needs patterns. Your speaking needs originality.” Rhythmic builds like this one keep your audience engaged and enhance the retention of your message.
Another reason speaking is like music is the importance of patterns. Most songs have the classic verse-chorus pattern that has become so familiar in music today (verse 1, chorus, verse 2, chorus, etc.).
In music, especially popular music, familiarity is important — it can be difficult to attract enough listeners if you create a song that’s completely off-the-wall.
Good speakers also understand the importance of patterns. You need to give your audience a predictable map of where you’re going so that they don’t get completely lost if they miss something.
For example, if you were talking about the reasons why music is relevant to speaking, you should structure those reasons like this: “One of the reasons music is relevant to speaking…,” followed by “Another one of the reasons music is relevant to speaking…” and so on. In other words, you want to keep reminding your audience of what you’re talking about.
Finally, just as it can help to have a little originality if you want to be a great musician, you should find your own unique voice as a speaker. Rhythm and patterns are important, but you need to be authentic if you really want to connect with your audience.
Just as the best musicians are those who make music that is original and authentic to who they are, the same can be said for the best speakers. Make sure you find your own natural style that you’re comfortable with — you should never feel out of sync with who you are.
So, the next time you’re preparing for a presentation, you might want to turn on a little music for inspiration. By thinking about rhythm, patterns, and originality, you will enhance your speaking and hit all the right notes with your audience.