Roger and Karl surprised – Act 6

Roger presents

As he did before every important presentation, Roger prepared himself mentally. His key messages were clear in his mind. He then imagined how his German colleagues might react to them.

He imagined the key critical questions they might raise and how he would respond to them in the Q&A session. Most importantly he practiced his closing arguments, those messages which simply had to come across clearly.

None of his efforts were much help, unfortunately. It all went rather strangely. Except for a few clarifying questions he was not asked one single question during his sixty-minute presentation.

All he could see were emotionless faces staring at him. At first he was just thrown off balance. Then he became nervous and tense. No feedback during the entire presentation!

He didn’t have a clue as to whether the Germans were even listening, much less if they understood him, agreed or disagreed or were neutral about his statements. The entire time he had to maintain his composure, yet try to draw out some kind of response from his German listeners. His mind was racing during the entire presentation. It was exhausting for him.

The moment Roger finished his presentation it was if the Germans had suddenly awakened from a deep sleep. They fired from all their guns at once. One critical and penetrating question after the other. And at no instance did they hint that what Roger had presented was in any way positive.

Most of the questions communicated clearly that the Germans were very skeptical. When American colleagues tried to come to Roger’s rescue the discussion (at least from the American perspective) turned into a open verbal fight. The German colleagues continued to pick apart Roger’s presentation.

Then it was time for a break. You could cut the tension in the air with a knife. The teams went in groups, separate of each other. The Americans were in agreement: the Germans were unfriendly, uncooperative, Q&A was like an interrogation. Roger was contradicted time and again, and in an almost insulting way. Very disrespectful.

But the German colleagues were no less irritated. They found Roger‘s presentation totally superficial. Too little information. Everything far too positive. Could it all be true? “Is this guy a spinmeister?” That’s why they listened politely and held their questions for the discussion part.

And they found the Americans to be overly sensitive, quickly insulted, losing their composure. They were poorly prepared to answer basic questions. The backup slides were also weak in content.

At the end of Roger’s presentation both sides were disappointed and aggravated. When they all returned to the conference room the tension was still high. Karl, Roger’s German counterpart, got up to present.

It all went rather strangely.  What went wrong?