The Spirit of Hip Hop

Now, I may be the most white, middle-class English person you’re aware of (in fact, I probably am), but I certainly know a thing or two about hip hop (please don’t call it rap*). I draw great inspiration from this phenomenal musical form for my public speaking philosophy, specifically:

  • Get your audience’s attention.
  • Be yourself.
  • Disregard convention.
  • Have fun.

*Regarding the difference between the two: “Rap’s something you do, hip hop’s something you live.” – KRS ONE.


I should mention that profanity has no essential place in hip hop. It’s featured prominently, but for me that’s simply an issue of freedom of expression. As Voltaire (1694 – 1778) said: “I disagree strongly with what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” When it comes to public speaking, you should probably avoid the use of profanity. Just to be sure.

Okay, assuming that for your talk about the new office training initiative you’ve decided not to start your introduction by swearing or telling the audience to throw their hands in the air, here’s what I take from those four aspects:

  • Grab them by any means necessary (except with the use of profanity).
  • Show them who you are.
  • Be different. Don’t do it like everyone else.
  • Enjoy what you’re doing. If not, why bother?

And there you have it. Hip hop was originally all about partying and competition, and while I imagine you’re not thinking of dancing or verbally attacking your fellow presenters, you should definitely try to be yourself and enjoy the whole thing. People who enjoy themselves in their work often inspire others to do the same.


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