Before we jump into discussing the eight essential elements of music that exist in successful speeches, let’s set the standard for a successful speech. I’ve boiled the criteria down to three effects both music and successful speeches have on the people who listen to them.
THE THREE EFFECTS
Music and successful speeches are easy to remember.
Depending on your age, I’m willing to bet you can remember songs, word for word, that you haven’t heard in 10, 20, maybe even 50 years. I’m also willing to bet you can remember some signature stories, analogies, and phrases you heard in speeches several decades ago. This doesn’t happen by mistake. Both music and successful speeches are structured so that it’s easy for the listener to remember them.
Music and successful speeches are repeated by those who hear them.
Have you ever heard a song you liked so much, you couldn’t help but tell a friend about it? Have you ever heard a song on the radio and then caught yourself singing the song? Have you ever found yourself singing a song you couldn’t stand? My answer to all of the above is a resounding “YES!” The same is true of successful speeches. Have you ever repeated the phrases “I have a dream,” “Ask not what your country can do for you,” “The only thing to fear is fear itself” or, more recently, “Yes we can?” It’s not a coincidence, because both music and successful speeches are structured in such a way that others will repeat their words.
Music and successful speeches are responded to by their listeners.
If you’re the type who enjoys people watching, you’ve probably seen what I refer to as “Karaoke Shopping Stars.” These are your run-of-the-mill adults who saunter down the dairy aisle and break into song and dance when one of their favorite oldies starts to play over the P.A. system. Without giving it a second thought, they end up responding to the music. I highly doubt a speech will ever cause someone to dance in the dairy aisle, but people respond to successful speeches.
They respond by donating to charities.
They respond by casting their votes.
They respond by increasing their productivity at work.
Once again, this isn’t a coincidence. Music and successful speeches are crafted so people will respond to them.
Notice there was no mention of a standing ovation, 10 out of 10 on evaluation forms, or compliments from members of the audience when they pass you in the hallway. While those are all nice for your ego, they don’t tell you whether or not your speech was successful.
The standard for a successful speech is that your audience remembers, repeats, and responds to it.
The Eight Essential Elements
Now that we’ve set the standard for a successful speech, let’s do a quick rundown of the eight essential elements that make a speech sound like music to the ears of your audience. This is just an introduction so you know what the elements are. I’ll be taking you for a deep dive in the following chapters.
Element #1 – The Chorus
In music, the chorus is the central theme of the song. The chorus is the reason the song was written. In your speech, the chorus is the theme or main point of your speech. The chorus is your reason for delivering the speech.
Element #2 – The Hook
In music, the hook is the catchy part of a song (it may exist in the chorus) that you can’t get out of your head. It’s the part that people sing to themselves over and over. In your speech, the hook is the word, phrase or sentence that people remember and repeat long after your speech has been given.
Element #3 – Verses
In music, the verses of a song help you to better understand the chorus. They tell the whole story. In a speech, your verses will have the same role: to bring clarity to the chorus and tell the story behind it.
Element #4 – Musical Bridge
Musical bridges indicate you are making a transition from one part of your song to the next. In speeches, your bridges serve as points of transition from one thought to another or one section to another.
Element #5 – Mood
In music, every song creates a certain mood. People will often listen to music to get into a mood or get out of a mood. In speeches, you also have to set a mood that is appropriate for the audience and the occasion.
Element #6 – Rhythm
In music, rhythm is the variation of the duration of sounds (notes) within a certain time frame. In speech, rhythm is the variation of word length and sentence structure.
Element #7 – Expression
In music, expression marks are used to describe how notes are to be played: soft, loud, with feeling, etc. In a speech, expression describes how much or how little emphasis you give to particular words and phrases.
Element #8 – Lyrical Bridge
In music, a lyrical bridge serves as a point of transition that signals the end of the song is near. The transition usually takes the song to a higher level of emotion before “connecting” back to the chorus. In a speech, the bridge is used to reflect on the speech and then segue into the final chorus.
Okay, not exactly. Just knowing what the eight essential elements are doesn’t mean you know how to weave the elements into your speeches so your words blend to create the perfect harmony.
In the following chapters, I’ll break the elements down, one at a time, and show you how to use them when you craft your next speech.
If you’re already working on a speech now, do the exercises at the end of each chapter to see if you’re striking the right chord.
If you haven’t started working on a speech, do the exercises at the end of each chapter and you’ll have a masterpiece (or something close) when you’re finished.
Regardless of why you’re reading the book, do the exercises at the end of each chapter so this book doesn’t become another good read you put on the shelf and forget.
“How to Make Your Speech Sound Like Music To Their Ears” is meant to be a guide and resource you use every time you prepare a speech of any kind.
On that note, let’s get started with essential element #1, the chorus.
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