Communication Lessons from Rock 'n' Roll to Opera and Jazz

Excerpt from my Communicating with Impact session

Music-- with its power of emotion and all its range of styles-- reminds us how to bring a story to life. In particular, music with a sense of authenticity and the tradition of storytelling grabs our attention and speaks to us-- giving us a compelling blueprint to follow in our spoken and written communications. 

In public relations, we carefully prepare and package our messaging-- and rightfully so. But combine that with a voice of authenticity, and you have much greater impact. Nina Simone tells her musicians, “Don’t put nothin’ in it unless you feel it,” in a famous studio recording of I Shall Be Released. Despite, or in fact because of that clumsy start, you hear their passion come through in the performance.

Today’s business communications requires story more than ever— the audience is eager for narrative, not just bullet points. As we look to music for inspiration, we can see that the songs that hit us the hardest often do so because they’re emotional and they tell a meaningful story. Billie Holliday’s Strange Fruit was so impactful that it actually silenced audiences, and left the singer without any applause. Bob Dylan said it embodied what music and performing were about. It wasn’t about getting that applause; it was about telling a story. He would know— he’s been called the voice of a generation.

Lorraine HambyComment