What Can Demos Learn from Music? - Great Demo

What Can Demos Learn from Music?

Musicians employ a number of tools to engage audiences that can be applied directly to demos, particularly when presenting face-to-face but also applicable over the web.

Dynamics, for example, are the louds and softs of music, and you can draw people in by alternating one for another.  Speaking in a strong tone followed by a dramatic decrease in volume literally causes an audience to lean forward towards the presenter and listen more closely.  This is particularly useful when you want to communicate an important point.  

Conversely, using the same volume for an entire demo or presentation can be boring – spice it up!


Ah, the Power of the Pause…  In music, a short period of time with no sound can be extremely dramatic.  In demos the same principle can apply.  When you describe a key screen or idea, pause for a moment to give your audience time to absorb the concept, think about it, and provide a comfortable gap for questions or comments.  There is no requirement to constantly fill “dead air”!

Interestingly, even the use of alliteration and careful selection of words can impact your audience’s attention.  Hard consonants and sibilants serve as percussion to the melody of your sentences, for example.

Explore this for yourself.  Listen to some of your favorite music and note the dynamics, pauses, crescendos, fermatas, and other hooks designed to engage and stimulate the listener.  For extra credit, identify the movement of Tchaikovsky’s fifth symphony that has that fabulous ringing pause!

Finally, as we should do in demos, musicians listen carefully and respond to one another in nearly all types of music.  Interestingly they also engage in musical conversations in many genres, ranging from “call and response” (e.g., Ray Charles’ “What’d I Say”) to the very rich dialogs found in some types of jazz, blues, rock, bluegrass, baroque, classical, romantic, modern and contemporary music.

Think about how you could apply these ideas in your demos!

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