I have had some fascinating conversations recently with some amazing musicians. In these conversations we discussed the impact that music has on emotion. Music is one of the most powerful state changers that exist in the world today. It is used in so many different contexts to induce particular emotions. In particular, we can find it setting the mood or the tone of a movie. Music manipulates our feelings by creating a powerful atmosphere. There are certain songs, specifically, that can inspire us… without even words.
In terms of notes, at a very basic level, some would suggest that major notes are more upbeat and minor notes are more melancholy in nature. The notes themselves often have a story to tell. But if we study the rhythm of songs, we can start to understand quite quickly the fascinating qualities of speeches as well.
An inspirational speech has a particular rhythm that helps make it inspirational. The qualities that it possesses are far more than an intelligent selection of words. The way the words are spoken. The timing. The tempo and how it changes. All of these factors play a part.
When you listen to songs, there is often a speeding up or a slowing down that occurs at certain parts of the song. The beat of the song tends to directly effect the person’s heart. In some ways, our heartbeat is impacted by the rhythm of the beat of the song. In a speech the same is true. And the beat of a speech lies in the way a person delivers the words as well as how the words are sequenced and punctuated.
For example, as you read this, the punctuation will often help guide your breathing. You will tend to breath at the end of each paragraph and often at the end of a sentence. If I shorten the sentences, your breathing will speed up, which will in turn impact your heartbeat as well. If you look at a great horror novel you will notice at the most exciting times that the sentences become shorter and shorter. This helps the author produce an emotional reaction in the audience.
In speaking, when we are communicating at a certain rhythm, the audience starts to match us and breathe when we breathe. What this means is that, as we get more and more excited, they will often follow. So, we can impact other people’s emotions by going first ourselves.
The music of a speech lies in understanding that our speaking can be organised into the beats of when we pause, talk and breathe. The more that you realise this, the more you can see that speech writing and delivery is about so much more than the content. It is about the process of how you impact the people you talk to.