No longer relegated to filling the background, music has become a pivotal part of some speakers' presentations.

Michael Gold, for one, turns to an American art form — jazz — in his corporate workshops. Gold is also the founder of Jazz Impact, a Minneapolis company.

The reason that jazz works so well in this context is that it is analogous to the way people work together, he explains. Jazz musicians must improvise with one another, following the rhythms and pacing of their fellow musicians in order to succeed. So must business executives. Gold calls it “an innovative response to change.”

His analogy continues, explaining that both executives and jazz ensembles need to have strong leaders and responsive subordinates to be effective. Executives and musicians frequently must follow a plan, whether it's a musical score or a PowerPoint presentation.

Another possible reason for the trend — music soothes stressed souls, making learning easier.