A rhetoric expert analyzes the resignation of Federal President Christian Wulff: A speech without applause


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On February 17, 2012 at 11 a.m., Federal President Christian Wulff announced his resignation at Berlin's Bellvue Palace. On rhetoric- and impact expert analyzes the body language and effects of his resignation speech.


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Michael Moesslang michael-moesslangMichael Moesslang is a lecturer at St. Gallen Business School, BAW and Munich University of Applied Sciences, Top 100 Excellence Trainer, Coach and Author.

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The end of his career!

Federal President Christian Wulff said that he would resign. Put yourself in his position: After a successful political career, he only recently received the highest office in the state.

Then allegations against him become public, more and more and louder. However, allegations, the weight of which required much discussion. And allegations that Christian Wulff himself is convinced that they do not apply. And now he has to make this appearance ...

... which means the end of his career. After this office there is none. He cannot go to Gazprom or BMW as a consultant, as a former Federal or Vice Chancellor can. He remains Federal President, albeit with the addition AD for “out of service”. On the video you can see how big the crowd of reporters is, who are crowding in the room and who want to get the best picture and the best sound.

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Stresses objectively, without any emotion

So Wulff enters the room with his wife. His gaze is a tentative safety view of the reporters without looking directly at them. He takes a measured step towards the lectern and climbs onto the small platform. He begins his speech neither frantically nor hesitantly. However, this is strikingly “emphatically factual”.

He speaks monotonically and tries to avoid any emotions of his own. He also tries not to notice anything in his body language. His fingers play nervously with the red cards, at the edge of the lectern, clinging to it temporarily, and all this in constant change - but this visible nervousness is understandable, in the face of the situation.

Eye contact is difficult for him

Even his slight wavering from one leg to the other is probably due to this nervousness. However, I recognize the mastery of the emphatically slow movements. The fact that his eye contact in each case only briefly goes to the reporters, makes the photographer sure crazy, it is pure luck thing to get such a good picture.

Only in the passage, in which he pronounces the resignation, he tries to keep a longer eye contact. It is obviously hard for him. Overall, Wulff looks very rigid, tense and as remote-controlled. He does not seem to be really present anyway. There are no visible emotions.

Finish without applause

I do not want to analyze the content by sending his goals and plans again. Rather, body and vocal signals are of interest. However, these will be scanty due to the behavior of the entire performance.

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Even when going out - certainly the most difficult moment, because in such a situation there is no applause - there is only a half look to the photographers. Wordlessly Christian and Bettina Wulff disappear through the door.


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