Using music in virtual meetings
How does music make you feel? Just take 30 seconds to find your favourite tune, press play and notice how it affects your energy as you read the article.
A virtual room does not have to be a “cold and quiet” computer screen or a PowerPoint presentation. Using tricks like music, you can easily spice up and enrich your virtual meetings.
Music can be a powerful tool for directing and creating emotions. Depending on the kind of music you choose, it can spark happy, focused or energetic emotions. When choosing what music to play, you should consider the purpose of your session and assess whether a piece of music would support the purpose.
At the beginning of a session, you can play music to build the right atmosphere and make people feel welcome from the moment they enter a virtual room. Music can make your participants feel that your meeting is special rather than just one of many.
You can also play music while your participants are doing individual reflections. During these individual reflections, slow and reflective music is the music of choice.
Finally, you can use music during breaks, which can be used to signal the end of a break to add energy or facilitate a particular mood. Always remember to match the music with the purpose of the session so that it does not disturb your audience.
Have you ever wanted to play music during a session, but then you thought to yourself that you are not an expert in music, your taste in music may not resonate with the participants, and you actually do not know what to play?
If so, then you are not alone. Most of us have occasionally had these thoughts. Therefore, we have gathered a few ideas below on how to get started on choosing music, including specific music suggestions for your next session.
First of all, you need to consider the emotion and mood that you want to create, e.g. a happy, focused or experimental mood.
Your choice of music depends very much on the purpose of your session. If you are having your weekly touchpoint, you might choose your favourite “coffee break tune” to get a nice start to the meeting. If you are working on a new product and are in the early stages of a creative process, you might go for something more experimental. And if you are at the end of a session and about to send people off on a high, you might go for music with high energy. If you are really into this, you can even match the theme of the song with the content of the agenda.
Consider the pace of the music, level of energy, whether the lyrics emphasise your message or if it disturbs individual reflection.
We have put together a playlist with a few examples of music for your session. When searching for music, you can use the playlist as a source of inspiration. You can find the playlist here.
If you are not on Spotify or just want a quick tip for what music to play, we have collected a few tunes that we like to use during our sessions in the list below. We have divided them into three categories: energising music, calming music and reflective music. You can use them at the beginning of the session, during breaks, for reflection or at the end of a session to support the purpose and create the right energy.
Coldplay: Viva La Vida
The Script: No Man is an Island
Gavin DeGraw: Chariot
John Mayer: Waiting on the World to Change
Justin Timberlake: Can’t Stop the Feeling
Madeleine Peyroux: I’m All Right
Emilie-Claire Barlow: These Boots Are Made for Walkin’
Mansur Brown: God Willing
Isaac Waddington: Ordinary Days
London Grammar: Strong
Brian Eno: 1/1 – Remastered 2004
Aphex Twin: Avril 14th
Agnes Obel: Chord Left
The xx: Intro
In the following section, you will find specific examples of what to play during a meeting if you want to create energy. We have added several songs for each element as you might need more than one break during the session, you may have a long opening and thus need more than one song, or you simply prefer one over another:
Open the meeting five minutes prior to the scheduled time and play the following tunes:
During breaks, go for:
As an energiser to get up and move around, consider doing physical energisers such as squats (download a list of inspirational physical energisers here) while you play:
During time for individual reflection and work, consider:
End the meeting on a high with:
Or go all in with:
If you are using your computer to play music, remember to click “use computer sound” (or similar) in the programme you are using to make sure that your participants can hear the music.
It can be quite difficult to set the volume correctly, since what you hear may not be the same as what the participants hear. Therefore, use the chat at the beginning of the meeting to ask if the volume is ok. If not, adjust accordingly.
To make it easy to play music during a session, remember to add the names of the songs to your playbook so that you know when to play which song. Create and organise your playlist before the meeting so that you simply have to press “play” when you are live and need to play a song.
If you want to know more about how to design and execute a virtual session, you may be interested in reading our book “Virtual facilitation”.
We have collected additional materials for the book Virtual Facilitation.
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