15 May 2009

Rhetoric wins applause for questioners on BBC Question Time

It wasn't just some of David Dimbleby's questions that got applauded on last night's Question Time (see previous post). Some of the questions also won bursts of applause, which was hardly surprising in the case of those who used the rhetorical techniques that are most likely to trigger a positive audience response.

In this first example, the question includes a contrast between ‘their own money’ and ‘our country’ that triggers a burst of applause before Dimbleby or anyone else has time to say anything:


The speaker in this next one deploys three rhetorical techniques in quick succession: a rhetorical question, a three-part list and a contrast.

And, as so often happens when someone combines more than one technique at a time, the applause here exceeds the standard 8 pus or minus 1 second 'normal' burst of applause (by about 2 seconds), thereby underlining the response as a more enthusiastic one than usual:

It was quite explicit. It has to be wholly necessary to do the job as an MP.

[Q] What could be more plainer than that?

[1] They don’t need scatter cushions,
[2] bottles of gin,
[3] plocks.

[A] It’s not the system that’s wrong.
[B] It’s the people - the MPs themselves. [APPLAUSE]


For more about rhetorical techniques and how to use them to get your own messages across, see any of my books (listed in the left-hand margin).

1 comment:

Scan said...

As a complete coward I flicked on and off Question Time in the more tense moments. However, I did notice that even though Dimbleby had to admonish the audience for shouting out, as far as I remember I can't recall any use or variation of "thief" or "steal" which I thought was interesting.