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The Bridge

In musical composition, a bridge is a distinct song section that serves to contrast and enhance the otherwise welcomed repetitive structure of verses and choruses.


This element, sometimes referred to as the ‘middle eight’ and appearing about two-thirds of the way through a song typically introduces a different melody, rhythm, or lyrical perspective. By doing so, it provides a palate-cleansing departure from the song's established patterns before its conclusion.


Put differently, the bridge sends a curveball to the listeners to keep them engaged and emotionally invested in the music. It enhances the song’s overall structure, emotional impact, and memorability. Without it, a song can be one-dimensional and overly predictable.


For example, in The Cure’s Just Like Heaven (1987), a quintessential track from the 80s, the lyrics first describe the intense passion generated by the encounter with a soulmate. But, starting with ‘Daylight licked me into shape,’ the bridge unexpectedly shifts the mood, suggesting that moments of joy were just a dream or a distant memory, adding depth to the song’s exploration of love and melancholy.


Viewed by a growing number of artists as a risky detour, bridges have been disappearing in modern songwriting. Sting lamented that trend in a 2021 interview: ‘For me, the bridge is therapy. […] In modern music, most of it, you're in a circular trap really, it just goes round and round and round.’


There are two requirements related to investor (or capital market)  days. First, corporates must have something new and noteworthy to share, the pillar of a SOCO or ‘Single Overriding Communication Objective.’ Second, they must use audience engagement techniques. This is where the concept of a bridge can be valuable. After all, like songs, investor days are about stories, performances, and connections.


Ways to create bridges during a corporate presentation include introducing a new element, such as a surprising guest (e.g., a board member), or a personal story that deviates from the main flow of the presentation: ‘Let me take a moment to share a story…’


Alternatively, the presenter can introduce an unexpected angle on a hot topic such as artificial intelligence. They can incorporate an interactive segment, such as a quick poll or a brief product or services teach-in activity. Or, perhaps, a visually stunning slide departing from the usual format to convey an important message.


A bridge can also be used to build anticipation for an important message. By presenting a challenge in a genuine fashion, the presenter creates tension that can be resolved in the subsequent sections, as discussed in Intentions & Obstacles.’


Bridges can be placed when the change of pace is most effective, typically before a critical point or after a particularly dense section of information to make a message more memorable. It is best to plan and design them strategically and artfully.


Finally, the bold may consider playing the presentation with the simplicity and authenticity of the unplugged format to foster intimacy with the audience, like this MTV version of ‘Just Like Heaven.’

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