JAPANESE CUSTOMER/ASSOCIATE MEETING

The following are some practical steps that you can take to facilitate communications at business meetings with Japanese customers or business accociates.

1. VERBAL COMMUNICATIONS

Most Japanese speak English with varying degrees of skill ranging from fluency to just basic phrases. However, it is important to remember that English is the second language of any Japanese person with whom you will be communicating, and you should always make allowances for this. Of course, the surest way to guarantee clear communications is to hire a skilled interpreter. However, if an interpreter is not available, or you don't have the budget to hire one, the following are some simple and practical steps that you can take to faciliate verbal communications: speak slowly, avoid colloquialisms, use simple words and short sentences, use visual aids when at all possible (if you don't have slides, use the whiteboard).



2. FORMAL PRESENTATIONS

The same simple and practical steps as described above apply here, too. Again, speak slowly, avoid colloquialisms, use simple words and short sentences, and use visual aids. If possible, augment your slides with Japanese translations under the English text (if you don't do this for the full presentation, try to do it for the key points).



3. USE OF INTERPRETERS

A competent interpreter can certainly faciliate communications at meetings and presentations.
Professional interpreters can be somewhat expensive, so make sure you get your money's worth by asking the language service company to arrange for you to be able to speak directly with the interpreter that they will be assigning to you.
First, call the interpreter and make sure that they can communicate with you effectively over the phone in English, also ask about their experience in interpreting for meetings that covered subject material such as you will be covering in your meeting or presentation. If you're comfortable with the interpreter, make sure to send them the materials you will be covering at the meeting or presentation at least a few days in advance. This way, they can review the materials and ask you for any necessary clarifications in advance. This may cost you a little more, but it will insure that the interpreter is fully prepared and that your meeting or presentation goes smoothly.
To get even more out of the interpreter, brief them in advance about the key message(s) you want to convey and your key goals and objectives for the meeting or presentation. Have the interpreter clearly specify these at the beginning of the meeting and reiterate them at the end. Also, after the meeting or presentation, have the interpreter debrief you about any non-verbal communications, or side conversations in Japanese, that reflected your Japanese audience's attitude or conclusions towards your key message(s) and key goals and objectives.



 
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