“Music is a world within itself, with a language we all understand. With an equal opportunity, for all to sing, dance and clap their hands”.

OK, stay with me – I haven’t gone all new age and flaky on you. Be assured I remain my usual cynical self. Those lyrics form the opening verse to Stevie Wonder’s wonderful song “Sir Duke,” a song that is both a tribute to the late great Duke Ellington and simultaneously a tribute to the uplifting, soul-stirring power of music.

I defy anyone to listen to the opening horn blasts of that song and not feel instantly uplifted.

Check it out on YouTube when you have a moment.

I was reminded of that song and the power of music to transform and uplift as I walked into a conference room in Noosa last month for the start of a recruitment conference that I was MC’ing for one of my oldest clients the RCSA, the Australian recruitment industry association whose conferences continue to lift the bar on how to conference creatively and keep audience’s actively engaged.

The theme of the conference was the “Art of Work” so the staging, content and overall look and feel of the conference was “artistic”.

In keeping with the theme, delegates walked into the conference room, with art deco themed furnishings and artwork all over stage, to the sounds of a 4 man band, playing a funk-rock fusion of background music. The band belonged to the opening speaker, the wonderfully artistic, creative and thought-provoking Mykel Dixon (below). If you haven’t sought him out for your conference – do so.

99% of conferences simply play the latest ‘song du jour’ through their audio system (think ‘Uptown Funk’ etc) or generic café music as the walk-in music. But as the RCSA delegates discovered, the “vibe” created by live music is simply unique and hugely powerful. Delegates did not simply walk into the conference room – they jived, grooved and shimmied (is that a word?) to their seats.

I watched them. They all smiled, they were all taken by surprise. And they all commented on the impact that the live music had. This conference started with a bang even before it started. The band were involved at other times of the conference too, but as a kick-ass, uplifting and hugely impactful way to start a conference, music (and live music especially) can’t be bettered.

OK, you may not have the budget for a professional band, but as Mykel Dixon would argue, think outside the (music)-box. What about a local school band? How about some of your delegates (so many companies these days have their company band). Even a lone guitarist or trumpeter would do the trick.

So many conference committees and conference organisers are looking for simple, innovative things to make their next conference different to their last. This is one way. And it works.

As Stevie Wonder says in “Sir Duke” – “There’s no way the band can lose….…you can feel it all over”

#conferences #presentations #conference innovation #MykelDixon #RCSA

This article first featured in Business Events News (BEN) in Andrew’s monthly feature column – “Confessions of a Compulsive Conference-Goer”