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Business Presentation

To make a successful presentation in Japan

The key to a successful presentation is to prepare slides and handouts well. Your spoken words come secondary because most of your audience probably can't follow what you’re talking about. A tiny minority—less than five percent of Japanese—understand English spoken at a natural speed. They are more likely to focus on the voice of the interpreter, the projected slides, and the handout.

Bilingual slides


Your Japanese audience will appreciate your physical presence, your effort to speak slowly, and your arrangement of having both English and Japanese text appear onscreen at the same time.


Here are some tips for creating bilingual slides >>

Bilingual handouts


Preparing a handout takes an extra effort. So why don't we skip the process, create all-purpose slides, print them out, and distribute them as handouts? The problem is that slides created this way will look cluttered onscreen. There is another problem—Japanese people expect more from the handout.


Here are some tips on how to prepare bilingual handouts >>

Cultural differences


Of course, slides and handouts are great, but the magic happens when you try communicating with the Japanese in a culturally smart way.

At a large conference, it's best to stand still. By not moving, you can give the impression of trust. Although you may have seen TED presenters walking around the stage and using hand gestures, those body languages are distractions for Japanese business people.

At a small meeting, make eye contact with key persons who have the power and authority to make decisions. But avoid strong or prolonged eye contact with Japanese people. 

Quality of Translations


Translations must be accurate and free of errors. But the quality of writing also affects your reader at an emotional level. People make instant judgments about whether something is attractive, trustworthy, professional, good, and so forth. 

There is a theory that language evolved from music. Good writing gives pleasure to the reader just as music gives pleasure to the listener. The Japanese language has distinctive rhythm and tone. These elements are important for Japanese readers.

Your messages communicated with proper Japanese rhythm and tone will be understood faster, remembered longer, and enjoyed more. 

So you see, presenting to a Japanese audience is easier than you may have thought. By carefully following the tips here, like creating easy-to-read slides, detailed handouts, and tone down your body language, you’ll be well on your way to successful deal-making. 

Engage your audience, inspire trust, and avoid making cultural blunders while delivering an effective presentation! Click to get Meg’s translations that use the right words.

"Words that sing off the page"

I finished going over your translation and I have to say, reading your work was a pleasure. I have seen a LOT of translation work over the years and the text you created was so clear. Perhaps it was the content—but your words (for me) just sang off the page. 

Barbara S. Morrison, Professor at Utsunomiya University

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