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Five Tips for Giving Presentations to Japanese

So you have an awesome presentation. But what can you do to impress your Japanese audience?  Try these:


  1. Lose the hype - keep the data. Slick presentations designed to "wow" or "woo" do not generally impress a Japanese audience. Convincing facts, with lots of supporting data, and zero pressure are your best bets. So your first step might be a mindset change.


  2. Be formal. The type of presentation will shape many of its features, but chances are a little more decorum would be usual in Japan. For example, you might consider having another person set up for you and a high-level person introduce you. Japanese also prefer materials to be handed with care, rather than plopping them in a lump for attendees to "Take one and pass them on." However, even while you are being a bit more formal, it's good to let your passion show through. Passion helps show your dedication.


  3. Emphasize visuals. Japanese appreciate graphic illustrations to clarify, amplify, and connect the contents. Slides that they design will often be packed with information and visuals, making it hard to "see the forest for the trees." For Japanese, however, this helps to show the relationship between different facets of a project and provide a more complete picture.


  4. Leave room for questions. Talk slowly and take "breathing" breaks to give your audience the opportunity to interrupt without being impolite. Practice your listening skills and your comfort with silent pauses.


  5. Remember that Japanese will rarely raise their hands. If you ask for questions, those without questions will generally just look down. Those with questions, on the other hand, will look directly at you. It's up to the presenter to notice this and ask those persons, "Would you like to ask something?" This is very important for getting feedback and supplying information they need.


We often want to wow our audience with a killer presentation, but in Japan, a better approach would be to think of your audience as partners to whom you want to present something solid, with ready answers to questions that might seem to be far on the periphery to you, but holistically connected to them!


by Diana Rowland, author Japanese Business: Rules of Engagement

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Rowland & Associates is a premier cross-cultural consulting firm, providing essential international business skills since 1985. Our passion is bringing intercultural business success through heightened insight and agility. We believe that bold steps with exceptional preparation can create dynamic solutions.


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