Reading from the script

The German Federal Parliamentary Bylaws (Geschäftsordnung des Deutschen Bundestages) state: Speakers should deliver their speeches without reading from a script.

There might be a reason why the creators of the Parliamentary Bylaws stated this rule explicitly. Germans have a very strong tendency to read speeches from the script.

The German publicist and politician Hans-Olaf Henkel once said: German speakers would rather divorce their spouses than deviate from their speech manuscript.

The American attitude is different: Henry Kissinger said that reading a speech from the script was a guarantee that no one would listen.

Jesse Jackson put it even more precisely. He said that reading a speech from the script was like kissing on the phone. Something is missing.

No wonder that performances given by American speakers are usually more compelling than those given by Germans. But for some reason, German audiences are not bothered much by the often downright boring speech performances given by their fellow countrymen.

Richard Burt, a former US ambassador to Germany was amazed by the patience with which Germans can follow dry and uninspired lectures. Burt said: I am amazed by the Germans’ ability to listen to speeches.


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