There was at least one such example during the Deputy Prime Minister's speech winding up yesterdays conference of the Liberal Democrats in Sheffield yesterday after a simple past/present contrast:
Clegg: "We cherished those values in opposition. Now we're living by them in government."
But, as you'll see, the applause didn't start straight away and, when it did, after his first "So yes", it sounded somewhat lukewarm (i.e. not only delayed, but also lasting well below the 'standard' burst of 8 ± 1 seconds):
It could. of course, be argued that this merely reflected the audience's ambivalence about their party's involvement in the coalition government. But there were at least two technical errors without which it could have induced a much more prompt and longer-lasting response.
1. Better scripting?
In stead of using a pronoun ('them') to refer to 'those values' in the second part of the contrast, the speechwriters could have made the sequence work better by repeating 'those values', so that it read as follows:
"We cherished those values in opposition.
Now we're living by those values in government."
2. Better rehearsal?
A second reason why the audience delayed before applauding was that Clegg didn't stop immediately after the second part of the contrast, but rushed on to continue with "so yes-'.
This may have been because he was too glued to the words coming up on the screens and was 'teleprompted' onwards, or because he hadn't rehearsed it enough beforehand - or perhaps a combination of the two.
In any event, a rather crucial line only managed to prompt a delayed and lukewarm response, leaving him looking vaguely perplexed as to what to do next, other than repeating the same two words waiting there on the screens.
You might think that this hardly mattered on a day when the news was dominated by the Japanese earthquake. And you'd be dead right, were it not for the fact that this particular sequence was one of the few that actually did make it on to the prime-time news bulletins last night and, via ITN, on to YouTube.
On delayed and/or lukewarm applause
- Delayed applause at a key point in Nick Clegg's conference speech
- Delayed applause in Vince Cable's speech (at same point as in Clegg's)
- More lessons from Vince Cable's speech
- Delayed applause for Ed Miliband's claims on the 'centre ground'
- Delayed applause for William Hague's boast about being in government
- Delayed applause, poor speech writing & delivery strike again in Osborne's speech
- Delayed applause for Cameron's government - from the Conservatives!
- BIG SOCIETY: little applause