Tips for presentation to Japanese visitors?

stylum

macrumors member
Original poster
Jan 19, 2002
62
0
SoCal
this week i'll deliver a presentation (made with keynote) at a bussines meeting with people coming from Japan (automaker company) and was wondering if people on the forum had any suggestions, common mistakes to avoid, etc.
 

Doctor Q

Administrator
Staff member
Sep 19, 2002
37,545
3,617
Los Angeles
Businesspeople coming to the U.S. from Japan probably don't need many special considerations, but there are a few things you might keep in mind.

When speaking to a group from another country, I suggest not assuming that everyone in the audience has completely mastered English, unless you already know otherwise ahead of time. That means you should try not to speak rapidly (a good tip for a presentation in any case), and you should avoid slang expressions that might not be recognized.

There is a cultural difference that I know of first hand, although I readily admit that it's a generalization, and may or may not apply in this case: Japanese business audiences may be quieter than American audiences, in particular less likely to ask questions or show visible reactions to what you present. This does not mean that they aren't listening or aren't interested, but that the business custom is to be less demonstrative. Some people may be less willing to appear uninformed by asking questions. This is less true each year, as international commerce brings our habits closer together, so I mention this not to stereotype but to suggest that you not worry if you get a quiet reaction.

Chances are that standard handshakes will be the expected greeting, not Japanese bows.

Sorry, I don't know any jokes in Japanese that you could open with. ;) However, a simple greeting in Japanese might be appreciated! :)
 

wheezy

macrumors 65816
Apr 7, 2005
1,280
1
Alpine, UT
Well... if you'd like to start with a joke, when you're ready to get started, stand in front of them and say '

"Hajime ni, Rajio Taisou Shimashou!" It would probably get a laugh. Work places and schools do Stretching exercises every morning, and they just listen and do it to a recorded voice, so this is basically saying 'To begin, let's do Radio Exercises!'. They'll know exactly what you're talking about and laugh, I'm positive. If only I could help with pronounciations on here...

Something you should try not to do is point with one finger if you have to point at someone, use your whole hand. They won't storm out offended at all, but in the Japanese culture you don't point.

I'm trying to think about what else would be helpful, but that's really all that is coming to mind. Also, they'll most likely introduce themselves by their last names, and it's appropriate to add 'san' like Miyagi San to the end of their name, it's basically 'Mr.' But remember, it goes after the name. Mine would be 'Jenkins San'. That's 'San', and is 'Sawn', not like Sans Serif.

It's hard to type teach a language!

Actually... if you really want to use that first joke, I can make you a graphic for your keynote that will say that in Japanese, and then you can just say it out in English with that behind you... :)

I lived in Japan for several years, and can probably help you out if you have any other questions.
 

MrSmith

macrumors 68040
Nov 27, 2003
3,046
13
"Hajime ni, Rajio Taisou Shimashou!" It would probably get a laugh.
I doubt it. Your accent will be so bad they won't understand it, the joke'll fall flat and you'll start off feeling like a plonker.

Something you should try not to do is point with one finger if you have to point at someone, use your whole hand.
With the palm facing upwards.

Also, they'll most likely introduce themselves by their last names, and it's appropriate to add 'san' like Miyagi San to the end of their name, it's basically 'Mr.' But remember, it goes after the name. Mine would be 'Jenkins San'. That's 'San', and is 'Sawn', not like Sans Serif.
Do NOT add it to your own name!

But all this aside, Japanese have an inbuilt fascination with all things foreign and as they are in your country they will not expect you to treat them any differently to other natives. If you try to be like them they will probably feel uneasy. If you really want to research just google for Japanese business culture or the like.
 

ezekielrage_99

macrumors 68040
Oct 12, 2005
3,336
16
"Hajime ni, Rajio Taisou Shimashou!" It would probably get a laugh. Work places and schools do Stretching exercises every morning, and they just listen and do it to a recorded voice, so this is basically saying 'To begin, let's do Radio Exercises!'. They'll know exactly what you're talking about and laugh, I'm positive. If only I could help with pronounciations on here...
Do NOT make joke with international clients for 2 reasons:

1) They probably wont find it funny, comedy isn't universal thing what is considered funny in one culture wont always be the case in another.

2) They will probably think you are insulting them, which is not a good start for any new client relationship especially an international one.