Our friend Max Atkinson has begun a new series discussing his research of which techniques speakers use to arouse applause from their audiences.
He broke new ground in the mid 1980s after he analyzed dozens of famous politicians and identified various “claptraps.” A claptrap is a trick, device or language designed to catch applause.
He is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his documentary Claptrap by posting it on his blog and explaining how he arrived at his conclusions.
The first post is here. Scroll all the way down to the bottom of the post to see the videos. It is broken up into 4 parts. You can watch the first part here:
The second post is here and is where he begins to discuss the development of his work.
The eureka moment came fairly quickly. I can’t remember exactly how many transcripts I’d done before noticing that the applause wasn’t just happening at random, but was occurring immediately after a small number of very simple verbal formats (e.g. contrasts, 3-part lists, etc.). But I do know that the main regularities had started to fall into place well before I’d got to the fiftieth example.