Using a Musical Accompaniment

Have you ever considered adding a musical accompaniment to a speech? Not turning your speech into a song, but just having some music in the background while you talk.

I usually have music playing in the background when I’m rehearsing my speeches and I’ve found the music adds an interesting texture and rhythm.

If you’ve ever listened the radio show This American Life you will have heard stories and interviews with subtle backing music.

“People ask, “Why do you put so much music?” It’s because music is like basil. Everything’s going to go better. Put it on, don’t think twice. Chicken, vegetables — it’s just going to be better.” - Ira Glass, Presenter of This American Life

Music can be used to emphasise emotion. House music might be used to compliment a high energy, happy voice. A soft song (such as This American Life regular Air – Alone in Kyoto), may be used to compliment an intriguing story.

I’m not sure how easy it would be to use this technique in a public speaking situation. Using a computer or an iPod brings the complications of charging batteries and unexpected crashes, although Ira Glass did pull this off towards the end of his recent talk at Gel.

Here are three examples I’ve enjoyed. None are really “musical acts”. The backing music is just there to compliment the voice.

Demetri Martin – The Jokes With Guitar

Tenacious D – Cosmic Shame

Baz Luhrmann – Everybody’s Free (To Wear Sunscreen)

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