When you present to a Chinese firm you will presumably do it in English. Be aware that you are communicating in a foreign language and that misunderstandings can arise more often.
- Speak slowly, clearly, and in short sentences. Put in pauses.
- Show a lot of text on your presentation slides. The written word is often easier to understand than the spoken word.
- Add many visual elements. Pictures, graphs, and video clips transmit some information perhaps more easily than many descriptive words.
This being said, take note of the following peculiarities of the Chinese style of presentation:
Much counts for a lot
First of all, the Chinese like to have a lot of information. Therefore, do not limit yourself to what you regard as the most important points, but place your topic in a broader context. Give them new insights and wider views. Depending on the individual case, you can even skip some of your prepared presentation slides, but you still signal the value and importance of your topic with an abundance of information supplied.
Repeat yourself – and do it intentionally! In China, the significance and relevance of a thing is expressed not by calling it “important”, but by referring to it time and time again.
Core statement at the end
Also, the presentation of arguments does not take place according to priority but by the principle of escalation. Therefore, the most important thing comes at the end. Be sure to give a recap of the major points at the end of your presentation.
High tech and innovative capacity
High tech and innovative capacity are desirable in China, so use multimedia elements in your presentation. For example, include short film sequences showing how your product is being used, or a virtual tour of your firm, a presentation of the team by live conference. Perhaps place your whole presentation at their disposal as a film contribution.
By the way, you may be filmed during your presentation without explicit notice. If parts of your presentation are confidential, raise that point.
Western humour and jokes are incomprehensible to most Chinese business people due to different cultural backgrounds. Abstain in your presentation from comical introductory jokes or witticisms. A serious demeanour will be perceived as more respectful.
As a presenter, you watch for particular signals from your listeners. You will probably interpret frequent nodding of the head as agreement or hearing „Yes, yes“ as approval. In China, however, that means only that people are listening to you and are in general open and ready. There is no link between nodding or saying “yes“ and confirmation that something has been understood or that one agrees with your ideas and suggestions.
If you ask your listeners questions and want to draw them into the discussion, do not be irritated by their silence. In China, silence signals esteem. If Chinese listeners say nothing, it means that they are reflecting on what you said and that your presentation was worth considering in a very positive sense and worth being pondered in silence.
Maintaining eye contact is not as common in China as you may be used to. If your listeners do not look at you it is not from a lack of interest. A lowered gaze signals concentrated listening and respect.
In China, a lecture often ends with the presenter applauding in a friendly manner. That does not mean that he is praising himself or demanding that the listeners do that. Rather, he is applauding the audience and thanking them for the attention he has been given. You can end your presentation in the same way: “Thank you for listening!”