If music is the soundtrack of our lives, then walk-in music is your meeting’s needle drop. A purely subjective medium, music can connect or alienate your audience faster than you can hit that perfect beat (boy). In fact, according to research out of Northwestern University music enters our nervous system via our brain stem – aka the “reptilian brain” – the most primitive part of our noggin. It’s why music elicits such a visceral response and why songs can have such a profound impact on your mood.
Whether “Take My Breathe Away” whisks you back to high school prom, or “We Are Never Getting Back Together” recalls your most recent breakup, you are powerless to control your emotional response.
That’s why creating meeting playlists can be so tricky. So before you hook up your iTunes playlist to your sound system and hope for the best (“How did the f bomb get in here? I thought I picked the radio edit!”) – here are a few pointers for creating a soundtrack the audience will appreciate – and remember.
Pros: Instantly recognizable and usually toe-tappable, this music immediately puts your audience at ease. Use compilations such as Now That’s What I Call Music to save yourself from having to scan the recent played listings from your favorite radio station. And expand to top 100, international charts and alternative genres to find newer artists.
Cons: Have you listened to Top 40 lyrics recently? They make you want to wash your ears out with soap! Avoid any suggestive or potentially controversial lyrics, even if the song has a “good beat.” You don’t want to walk-in music to be the big takeaway from your meeting.
Pros: When you have a meeting theme, using music to bring it to life creates a more integrated experience, especially when it is carried thru the entire event, from walk-in, to speaker play-ons, and walk-out. For example, if you have a historical vibe – “Look how far our organization has come!” – choose songs from key years in the company’s timeline. Whatever the theme, still take the time to check lyrics.
Cons: Finding songs aligned with your theme and content requires more effort that using “what all the kids are listening to these days.” But the payoff can be big, especially when a song becomes an internal rallying cry. Remember that shortcut to the reptile brain? The themed soundtrack is the fastest way to stream your message directly to your audience’s subconscious.
Pros: Want to learn more about how your audience thinks and feels? Invite them to send their favorite songs to create a custom soundtrack. While you’ll need to remind them to choose songs with clean lyrics, leave the rest to serendipity. You may be surprised how many “Eye of the Tiger” submissions you receive.
Cons: Managing curated content takes additional time, but the payoff for the audience is huge. People bond over favorite songs, and this spirit of camaraderie will infuse the rest of your event.
Whether you stick with mainstream sound, or break out into crowd-sourced audio, the soundtrack you create for your next meeting establishes the vibe of the room. Instead of leaving it to chance, consider how want your audience to feel during, and even after, your event.
Let your music set the mood, while your content does the rest.