Along with the invitation to the meeting, your Canadian business partners or colleagues have probably sent you an agenda with a great many items on it, which are to be worked through methodically, one after the after. Accordingly, you are expected to arrive punctually for the meeting.
Efforts will also be made to finish on time. Canadians do not relish marathon sessions but prefer to get on quickly with the topic at hand. Nonetheless, there will be time for a little small talk once everyone is assembled or for a coffee break, usually after about an hour.
Canadians place emphasis on equal rights and diversity. In light of the above, Canadian companies tend to have flat hierarchies, especially those in the English-speaking parts of the country. Employees from different hierarchical levels will take part in a meeting and be invited to contribute their expertise and ideas or to play an active role in decision-making processes. The general atmosphere at meetings in Canada tends to be democratic, informal and relaxed. Everyone has their say.
However, francophone companies may be more hierarchy-oriented, with higher-ranking participants taking charge at meetings.
The Canadian communication style is clear, precise and direct. Although nobody objects to an open discussion or fair and constructive criticism in meetings, Canadians invariably endeavour to maintain a certain level of courtesy, harmony and reserve.
You will notice differences in the discussion style between the anglophone and francophone parts of Canada. French Canadians are wont to express themselves in a more eloquent, animated way, yet are a great deal more indirect than English Canadians.
Canadians have little patience for long-winded speeches at meetings. Keep your contributions brief and to the point. Once an agreement has obviously been reached on an agenda item, the discussion moves directly onto the next item, even though some of the details have perhaps not yet been clarified.
From the Canadian perspective, a business meeting is generally considered successful if, at the end, a plan of action has been drawn up, specific goals agreed upon or decisions have been made.
Like elsewhere, PowerPoint is the preferred format for presentations in Canada. Flip charts are not particularly common.
Keep your presentation simple and be guided by the American style. In other words, avoid overloading individual slides with information and limit yourself to a maximum of five points per slide. Less is often more in Canada.
Accordingly, make sure that your presentation lasts 45 minutes at most. Express your opinion in clear, precise terms. Do not go into too much detail. Use figures and facts in moderation and leave out overly detailed background information. Canadians prefer you to keep the run-up short and sweet, without first recounting at great length how a certain problem arose or what the story is behind the new product. They want to get straight to the point and find out what is relevant. In a word, Canadians prefer things to be hands-on.
Therefore, a successful presentation should conclude by making specific statements. The best way to proceed is to summarise these points again and prepare a handout for participants.
Questions are welcomed at any time in Canada. Naturally, before holding your presentation, you can arrange to have a general Q&A session at the end.