An investigation into the verbal and non-verbal communication styles of Larry King helps to understand the ways he keeps his program running on a smooth flow of conversation while he persuades guests to answer difficult questions. Although he has an appearance of being meek and…
t can be seen that King uses complex paralanguage and syntagm to force his guests to answer difficult questions while providing a collection of visual signs within his studio to reassure them and to remind them of the serious nature of his inquiries. It is this combination of sincerity, seriousness and charming tenacity that gains King his reputation as a man who can get the answers.
Much of King’s stage is reflected in shades of blue, including his clothes. Blue is the color most often associated with sincerity, purity and innocence. At the same time, blue, as a ‘cool’ color, has a calming effect on people, especially in the Western culture. By including blue in his stage set and usually wearing blue, King brings these attributes of color onto himself and the process of interviewing guests, providing them with a sense of security, safety, innocence and sincerity.
However, the background to the set and King’s business-style clothing also works to establish the setting as a serious place of business. The background is a lit-up dot matrix image of the globe, with land forms represented by mostly blue lights and water forms remaining dark, providing a sense that issues discussed are of worldly importance.
Finally, King uses complex paralanguage and syntagm to coerce guests into answering his questions. When a guest avoids the question, King uses syntagm to ask his next question, which is a restatement of the avoided answer. His paralanguage, laying stress on key words, making direct eye contact and adapting a stern bearing, usually has the effect of obtaining an answer. An example would be a question to a guest regarding a difficult divorce: “How did you get through the rather difficult period of your divorce?” The guest laughs but doesn’t actually address the question. Sitting a little straighter in his chair, looking directly at the guest, King barely waits for the guest to finish speaking before he cuts in again: “But you had an ...
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