Chinese Business Etiquette : Chinese Business Etiquette: Formal Meetings

Chinese Business Etiquette : Chinese Business Etiquette: Formal Meetings

Hi, I’m Mark Kemsley. We’re still talking
about doing business in China and this particular clip is about how to put on a formal meeting.
You may be in China, you’re at a hotel, you’ve invited a certain group of people, perhaps
a company that you want to form a joint venture with to visit you. Maybe you’ve booked the
conference room in a hotel and they’re coming into the room. Well, what do you do? We’ve
already mentioned that you want to have hot tea available for them and that you ought
to have somebody else serving that. And that you need to be careful about how you greet
them. But it is very, very important, again, that you give the person who comes in, the
person who is of the highest rank, the seat of honor. And what is the seat of honor? That
is the seat that is facing the door. This comes from ancient times when people didn’t
want to have their back to the door because there could be enemies coming in. You give
the person the seat of honor where he’s facing the door and you would normally sit next to
them. You might want to sit across from them. That’s really quite optional, because if it’s
more formal you would sit across from them. If it’s more casual and you want to make it
feel more casual, then you would sit next to the person rather than sitting across from
the person. Now, when you’re starting the meeting, the first thing you want to do, is
kind of make a speech. As silly as that might sound, you want to express how happy you are
to be there in the meeting. How happy you are that they were able to travel to come
to visit you there in the hotel. And you want to say something nice, especially about the
person who’s the highest ranking there. You want to just make the person feel welcome.
Mention his name, mention his title and often use people’s titles. It’s good to use people’s
names and to refer to them as mister but, in Chinese, they really don’t do that. You
wouldn’t very often refer to somebody as mister. If he is President Jong, then when you’re
referring to him in the meeting, you’d say, “and how does President Jong feel about that.”
Okay? You want to make them feel that they are respected. This is very, very important
to the whole process. Now, you probably will be working through an interpreter because
most businesspeople in China do not have a working knowledge of English. And so, if you’re
working with an interpreter, that person needs to understand ahead of time, what the content
of the meeting is about. What your business is about. Otherwise, this interpretation can
go really left field. You might want one of them to bring their interpreter, which is
great. They will often do that. But, even if they do, you’re going to want your own
interpreter present. Even if they’re using their own interpreter, you want someone present
that understands both sides of what is going on. And that way, after the meeting, you can
sort of have a little session to debrief and find out what those people were saying that
you didn’t understand. A good way to make a presentation would be to do it through PowerPoint
and to have it done in Chinese. You need to understand that the Chinese is different in
Mainland China and in Hong Kong and in Taiwan. It’s completely different in all three places.
And so you would want somebody who is local to help you in putting together a Chinese
presentation for PowerPoint. Now, if you want to draw on a white board, that’s fine. As
you do so, don’t make it too complicated. Don’t put up a whole bunch of words that are
scribbled and they can’t really understand anyway. Make it more graphical and have the
interpreter sort of walk through the process with you.


  1. Wow ! The Company I used to work for need your help!! .Perhaps they can learn to be polite to customers and employees .

  2. I feel so ignorant. I do this way in the US. It must be different if you are having to explain this to westerners. I am white having grown up in asia so maybe I am just ignorant of western ways. How is it different? One would not do this way?

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