Should We Craft For Laughter? What 2000+ Ted Talks Might Tell Us About the Use of Humor in Rhetorical Public Speaking

University essay from Handelshögskolan i Stockholm/Institutionen för marknadsföring och strategi

Abstract: The concept of persuasion is a puzzle. So is the concept of humor. The question is, can solving the second puzzle help solve the first one? Expressed in a different way, can successfully used humor serve as an effective means of persuasion? Using data from one of the world's largest platforms for persuasive public speeches, TED Talks, this paper makes an attempt to answer that question. The method applied relies upon two key variables: audience laughter counts and "acceptance-related" rating counts. Comparing these two against each other allows the authors to see how changes in humor usage rhetorically affects the audience addressed. Findings indicate slight positive changes in the audience's general acceptance level as a result of adding more humor. Not as large, however, as to say that humor should be viewed as an effective rhetorical device.

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