How To Use Music To Magically Improve Your Presentations

7 May 2018

How To Use Music To Magically Improve Your Presentations

One person’s music is another person’’s ‘din’!

We’re all so different in our musical tastes that being forced to listen to music you don’t enjoy can almost feel like a punishment. So if you’’re thinking of using music during your presentation or training, there are some things it might be useful to know.

Photo by Valentino Funghi on Unsplash

By learning and implementing these key points, you’ll help your participants achieve the appropriate physical and emotional learning states – and avoid the feeling that they’’re being punished!

Steph’s Suggestions for using music


These days, you don’t need loads of fancy equipment, so it’s even easier to include music as part of your presentation. I use a small, compact speaker system and have my iPod – loaded up with music – attached. You could use your smartphone and a grunty, portable speaker. I make sure I have a power point close to where I want to locate the stereo or take an extension cord if necessary. But, you might not even need a power connection if it’s a short presentation and you’ve fully charged your phone and speaker. A remote control can also be useful if you need to locate your music system away from the place you’ll be standing to give your presentation.

Arrange Your music:
1. Before the start

Arriving at a venue can be an uncomfortable time for many. Participants might not know anyone and could feel a little self-conscious at this point. It’’s great to have some reasonably upbeat, easy listening music playing in the background. Music serves it’’s purpose in breaking the ice and establishing a certain level of comfort. It fills in any awkward gaps when the conversations lapse or even gives people something they can talk about easily.

Set a friendly tone

Music before, during and after a presentation still seems to be the exception rather than the rule. So when music greets people, it tells them, — either consciously or unconsciously — that this event is going to be a bit different.

2. At the start of the training or the presentation

At some point I want people to take a seat and pay attention so that I can begin my presentation. I could yell at everyone like a fishwife, but I have a much more elegant way of letting people know it’’s time to start!

Change the music

I put on something that’’s more upbeat, and I crank up the volume. The loudness and beat change the energy in the room, curtailing the conversations. It let’s people know something different is about to happen.

The music signalling the start needs to have three specific qualities:
  1. It needs to be upbeat – the kind of tune you want to dance to – because this changes people’’s energy.
  2. It should have positive lyrics. Words, as you would know if you’’ve read even a couple of my articles, are extremely important. So having a song (no matter how upbeat) with negative lyrics sends the wrong message.
  3. It should be short.
Music - 2

Photo by Akshay Chauhan on Unsplash

You don’t want to use all your presentation time playing music, so a song that lasts less than three minutes is good. If the piece you’ve chosen is longer than three minutes, you can always stop it before the end. However, cutting the song short can be annoying to some people.

You might think it would be easy to achieve these criteria;

Short, positive and upbeat.

Not so. I can’’t tell you how many hours I’’ve spent listening to music with the sole intention of finding suitable pieces for training. So I’d advise giving yourself some time to select appropriate music.

3. During the exercises

Even in short presentations, I’’ll often have people interact with each other. Frequently a time when people might feel self-conscious, having some relaxing background music serves to fill in awkward silences and allow participants to ease themselves into an exercise.

Depending on the exercise, I might use some more upbeat music at a higher volume, especially during activities that run after lunch when people might be lacking vitality. For example, I might get participants to play a version of ‘musical chairs’ where the aim is to answer questions about what they learnt in the morning session.

4. All day

On many longer courses, I have a couple of pieces of tunes that loop all day so people can only just about hear them. These are specific instrumental pieces containing binaural beats. Binaural beats have been developed to entrain brain waves helping people stay in a relaxed, learning state. It’’s not the kind of music you would commonly engage with, so isn’’t perceived as a distraction.

5. After breaks

The same song that starts the training is used to bring people back from breaks. Turned up loud it signifies recommencement and a change in energy. After playing it two or three times people recognise that this particular song means it’’s time to return and learn some more. In NLP terminology this is called anchoring. By the time I formally teach anchoring, participants have usually had several exposures to it and can easily verify that anchoring works!

6. Start of a day

On my longer courses, I start each day with a relaxation where I remind participants of information they learned the previous day. The relaxation lasts for about ten minutes and the melody I play during this time is soothing and relaxing. It’’s played at low volume but a bit louder than the binaural beats music. I want participants to hear the melody in the background but also, to listen to my voice in the foreground.

By the way, I only play a single source of music at any one time.Presentations That Rock… engage and wow your audience — and avoid death by bullet point! - By Stephanie Philp


  • Music serves several purposes:
  • Helps people feel at ease.
  • Balances brain waves to make it easier to learn.
  • Re-energises people.
  • Calms and soothes.
  • Is fun and engaging.
So, with all these great reasons to use music why not try some at your next presentation?

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