The Germans separate message from messenger. The presenter consciously and purposely moves into the background. In the German business context the message takes center stage. Germans believe that arguments should speak for themselves.
Americans link message and messenger. The message, its form, and most importantly its presenter create a unity. In the U.S. business context the presenter takes center stage. Americans believe that „you sell yourself first, then your product or service.“
Germans react ambivalently to linking speaker and content. An overly personalized presentation style is on the one side both motivating and attractive. At the same time, however, it is overly personified. Germans are persuaded more by objectivity than by subjectivity. “There must be a reason why he is appealing to our emotions instead of to our minds.”
Americans, in stark contrast, find the separation of speaker and content as impersonal, sterile, drab. To distance oneself from the message is interpreted by Americans as risk-averse, disinterested, and anything but persuasive. “If he himself is not convinced, why should I be?”
Advice to Germans
Identify yourself with your message. Literally use the word I. Draw on your personal experience by using anecdotes. Put your heart into it. Show emotion. Give signals when you are a subjective participant in your story and when you are an objective observer. When persuading Americans you cannot take yourself out of the equation.
Advice to Americans
Temper the showman in you. Be coy. Hint at almost a scepticism in your own message. Neither invite nor challenge your listeners to like or dislike you. In fact, take yourself out of the equation altogether. It‘s all about the content and not about you. You are not on any kind of stage.