Music is a Sound Choice for Meetings
Science shows tunes boost attendee wellbeing and facilitate connections.
What do touring musical artists and your next meeting have in common? The stage, of course. And what do concert and festival-goers have in common with your attendees? The magic of music provides them all with a platform for connection, common ground, and conversation.
This connection between music and meetings might sound too out there—just a bit new age-y to have real-world applications that matter on the job. But consider just how much scientific research supports music’s importance.
According to a recent report from the Global Council on Brain Health, music triggers hormones such as dopamine and oxytocin, leading to a distinctly positive effect on emotional wellbeing. It improves mood, reduces anxiety and helps alleviate stress. Specifically, research underscores the benefits of engaging with music in the company of others to facilitate connections and wellbeing.
Of course, music wakes us up and makes us more productive, too. Think about how much faster you run, walk or pedal that stationary bike when you’re listening to a high-energy soundtrack.
When enthusiasm is waning, music can provide a jolt of energy that restores alertness and refocuses the mood for productivity and creativity. One oft-cited study even found that listening to classical music helped test takers score higher by improving reasoning skills.
So how can meeting professionals harness the power of music for impactful meetings? Start with venue selection.
Concert venues that double as meeting spaces set the stage for music-focused events. Match your music venue to your group’s size and vibe: Not all concert venues are large-scale spaces with a rock-and-roll feel.
For instance, in downtown Phoenix, The Van Buren holds 1,800 in a live-music space converted from a historic auto dealership. For a more low-key atmosphere for an intimate group, The Nash Jazz Club holds just about 100 attendees. And concert venues steeped in history, like the opulent, nearly century-old Orpheum, can impart a sense of style and dignity for meetings.
Outdoor venues provide crowd-pleasing appeal when weather permits. Amid social distancing measures, the Herberger Theater Center opened an outdoor venue called The Pavillion, with a scalable setup to accommodate changing conditions.
Remember that music spans not just genres but also forms—including ballet, opera and theater. Ballet Arizona, Arizona Opera and the PHX Theatre Company offer performing arts experiences and venue environments designed to entertain and inspire attendees.
Bring the musical theme full circle in Phoenix with an off-site event where attendees will be surrounded by more than 8,000 instruments from more than 200 countries. The Musical Instrument Museum, the largest of its kind in the world, celebrates music with interactive galleries, rare exhibits, and live concerts in an intimate theater.
While a stand-alone concert by a big-name act may be a marquee feature of a multi-day meeting, there are many other ways—both large and small—that planners can incorporate music into the fabric of meetings to boost engagement and facilitate connections.
For instance, music can lead into and out of breaks. It can be a stimulating backdrop to presentations, enlivening otherwise ho-hum talking heads. Play music as a low-key soundtrack for networking and connecting; it’s a softening factor that can reduce pressure on conversations in an otherwise quiet space. Devote an entire afternoon session to a high-energy music break — guests can return to the programming refreshed and reenergized.
Further, meeting planners can further connect their attendees to the destination by booking local artists. Over the past year, amid the limitations of the pandemic, Phoenix-based singer-songwriter Sydney Sprague played live music sets over Visit Phoenix’s virtual calls, webinar breaks, and other remote integrations.
Indeed, meetings don’t need to feature A-list artists supported by a big-budget concert production to create a fan-like attendee experience. Rather, even subtle musical touches—integrated with intention—can help boost meetings’ impact and facilitate powerful connections.
A version of this story originally appeared in Associations Now.