Mix tape sprint

I was forced to endure an absurd presentation skills training earlier this week as part of my required duties. I could go on and on about how idiotic this class is, but one good thing did come of it. For the first morning, we were supposed to have done some pre-work notes on a topic of our choosing. I came to the class unprepared, and was given 20 minutes to put together a 4 minute presentation to be given to the class. I spent the first 5 minutes deciding on a topic and the last 15 minutes trashing the curriculum rubric and instead writing the piece word for word. I told the instructor that I haven’t held a pen since grade school and I’m not about to start again now, fired up my laptop, and hammered this out:


Today we’re going to talk about the crowning ritual of modern man: the romantic mix tape. By the end of this presentation, you will have learned how to produce a mix tape that is both a work of art in and of itself, and an effective tool for attracting your targetted love interest.

Point 1: Diversity

The first essential element of a good mix tape is diversity. Do not use more than one song from the same band. Do not use songs that are all from the same style of music. And do NOT use nothing but slow, sappy songs. As Darwin would say, diversity is the lynchpin of success. And so it is with mix tape. By focusing on diversity, you are indicating to your recipient that you possess both taste and breadth. And having good and far-reaching taste is a signal of your own evolutionary fitness!

Point 2: Connection

The second point is that you must make a connection with your mix tape. Music is ultimately communication, and the mix tape is the vessel. The songs you choose aren’t all about you. You’ll want to have one or two selections specifically chosen because you already know she’ll be delighted by it. And the best way to research the music she already likes is internet stalking.

Point 3: Composition

The third and final point to consider is composition. This is where the art comes in. Your mix tape should have a theme and a narrative arc that connects the sound and the words in a way that says a message. And the message is I’m gaga for you. Make sure your mix isn’t too top heavy — long songs should be saved for the end, so as not to interrupt attention and flow. And the segues from song to song should make sense, both lyrically and sonically. Put some effort into the presentation. You worked hard your mix tape, and the art and typography should reflect that level of care.


In conclusion, I hope I have pointed out some mix tape best practices. Make no mistake, the mix tape is a tricky game. But if you build it with an eye on diversity, connection, and composition, you will not fail in your task.

All those UIL extemporaneous speaking exercises came back to me in a flash, and I was able to churn this out in 15 minutes. I’m mighty proud of this! This is blog-ready copy right here, and I didn’t even cheat and clean it up!

I pretty much said “fuck this, I’m leaving” to the presentation class after that.

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