Chinese whispers: How to be heard in China (2/3)

Business Card

Part 2 – Face-to-face

In the second of our three-part guide to communicating with Chinese businesses, we look at the ways in which you communicate better once you actually get to that all-important meeting.

In exactly the same way that many Chinese are impressed by a professional-looking corporate website, PowerPoint presentations are used by forward-looking Chinese companies. The same is expected of Western companies, and the more effort that has gone into producing an impressive presentation, the more credibility your organisation will garner. Given the difficulties of language barriers, PowerPoint presentations provide an excellent opportunity to summarise your company through clear, succinct bullet points and by using a whole manner of graphs, pie charts and other diagrams.

Interpreters and translators will likely be crucial to conducting business successfully in China. Since any interpreter or translator may effectively become your negation partner, you should always brief them fully in advance. It may be advisable to take your own interpreter rather than rely on one provided by the company you are visiting. If you can’t get a recommendation through a business contact, the China-Britain Business Council is one organisation that can arrange interpreters for you.

Always make sure you speak clearly and in ‘manageable’ sentences. Repeat crucial information to ensure that this is communicated properly. Write down any large numbers to avoid mistranslation and misunderstandings. Make sure you have explained any key industry terminology to your interpreter in advance of the meeting. Avoid the use of jargon and jokes, as these may get lost in translation and risk causing confusion or offence. Finally, although you may not understand everything that’s being said in the meeting, observe the body language of your clients to get a feel for how things are progressing and to understand who might be the more important players and decision makers in the room.

Further useful information on conducting business in China can be found in B2B International’s white papers:

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