There’s a first time for everything. And, as speakers, it can be di;cult to make a change to your onstage o;erings. But adding something unique to the mix can help you stand out. Here, Jim Cathcart, CSP, CPAE, talks about how he made
the decision to integrate music into his keynotes.
Q: What made you decide to add guitar and singing to your keynotes,
and did you consider it a brave move at the time?
A: In my 20s, I played and sang in clubs, then only played socially for decades after
pursuing my “real career.” Occasionally I’d have a chance to play a song as an aside,
but it wasn’t part of what I did. At an engagement in Caracas, Venezuela, for 800
executives at a Leadership Forum, I used the guitar performance to bring people back
from the break … and it really worked!
Within a few months I had inserted musical pieces into my keynotes, and used the
guitar for program transitions. It was getting better and better. So, I added it to my
JIM CATHCART, CSP, CPAE, is a
member of the Sales & Marketing Hall of
Fame, author of 18 books, an NSA past-president, and recipient of The Cavett
Award. A Top 1 percent TEDx speaker
and the original author of Relationship
Selling, he has remade
himself into one of the
LinkedIn description and my website. Now,
I mention it for every engagement, and have
had some huge magical musical moments all
over the world. It’s important to note that I’m
not a gifted musician. I’m “competent,” but
I’m also enthusiastic and humble enough not
to try to impress with my skills. Instead I use
the music to convey passion, fun, and variety.
Q: Have you found any downsides
to your choice?
A: The only downside I’ve seen is getting the
guitar to the site. My solution to that is to
request an acoustic electric guitar as part of
the AV requirements. I can bring my own or
I can rent one if needed. I occasionally have
a nice guitar shipped to the hotel by Guitar
Then at the end of my speech, I present
the guitar to a key person onstage as a gift
from the organization, and I sign it for them.
The company, for just a few hundred dollars
extra, gets a gift that will be proudly displayed and never forgotten.
Q: Do you think “different” is something
speakers should do later in their careers
when they are already established?
A: I just know that once you’re “established”
you have more flexibility. But your “extra
thing” might be the very item that gets you
better established. Don’t mimic, don’t blend
in, just reach/teach/touch people. ■
WITH JIM CATHCART, CSP, CPAE
TO BE DIFFERENT
Using music to strike a chord with audiences
Watch Jim in action on his You Tube channel at
youtube.com/jimcathcart. Type “guitar” into
his search bar and be sure to listen to him play
at the Influence Jam Session with his fellow