So. I’m taking a Business Communications class. It should be labeled bizcom for dummies. But it’s not, I digress.
The assignment: Create a PowerPoint presentation about business culture and practices in another country. I chose Canada.
I’ve included my PowerPoint and my presentation. I’ll let you judge if you would have wanted to sit through this.
Canada is merely the Northern United States, right?
Thank you for asking me to speak to you about Canadian Customs and Business Culture. This request was timely as I just returned from a month-long business trip all throughout Canada and have spent a great deal of time researching their business ethos.
Canadians have a distinct set of ideologies which make them similar, familiar, yet different to Americans.
Slide Change: Understanding Provincial differences:
When planning business in Canada, place an importance on the culture of the Province you’re travelling to, consider these traits
• Atlantic Provinces (Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland): The people are somewhat reserved and provincial, to the point that they are seen as old-fashioned.
• Ontario: This is the business hub and the people tend to be business-like and conservative.
• Quebec: The French region has a distinct cultural identity. The people are extremely regionalistic / independent.
• Western Canada (Alberta, Manitoba and Saskatchewan): The people are open, friendly and relaxed.
• British Colombia: The people are less conventional, and trendier. This province is often viewed as the Canada of the future.
Slide change: Preparing for a business meeting in Canada:
Business Cards – Canada has two national languages, French and English, it’s important to have your business cards printed with one side in English and one in French. In Quebec specifically the French side should be face up when presenting it. Should you receive a business card, it’s a sign of politeness and interest if you look at it prior to placing it in your bag, briefcase or pocket.
What to wear – Canadians are generally conservative in their manner of dress, when getting ready for a business meeting you should always plan dark colors: Charcoal, black or Navy.
Slide Change: Introductions:
Handshake: As in the United States, a handshake is the most common form of greeting in a business setting – and it’s proper to shake hands upon completion of a meeting.
Introducing people: When introducing your business associates, they should be introduced in order of position with your company, highest title continuing down.
First Names: Do not automatically use someone’s first name upon meeting them. Canadians tend to see the familiarity as a sign of disrespect. Wait until you are invited to use their first name.
On time: Canadians value their time, and expect all of their meetings to start on time, make sure you are at least 10 minutes early for your appointment, though, in Quebec, they are a little more laze faire about time, they expect you to be there on time, even if they are not.
Slide Change: Meals:
Business is rarely conducted during meals. You should never engage business conversation over meals unless your host invites it.
You should also, never begin eating, until the host or hostess has begun.
Invitations to a personal home is very rare, it is proper, however to send flowers in advance of your arrival should you receive an invitation.
Slide Change: Gifts:
Gifts are not routinely given. If you do give a gift when you arrive or when you are leaving, make it a modest one. A lavish gift, though accepted, would be frowned upon.
Slide Change: Pitfalls:
Don’t use the phrase “We Americans” – You may mean we “North Americans” though Canadians will read this as American.
Be honest and direct. Canadians engage in direct communication.
Be wary of personal space, in Western Provinces, there will generally be two feet, or arms’ length between people who are interacting, in Quebec, that distance may be closer.
Beware of the “Eh” – The use of the word “eh” is a tradition and is something which is revered in Canada. You may hear it quite frequently. The proper use of “Eh” turns a general statement into the form of a question. “It sure is cold out here, eh?”
And finally, avoid using the peace sign backwards, this is an extreme sign of disrespect.
Canadians are prideful in their country, in their province and in their cities, they have a sense of community around them and are generally not boastful, so you shouldn’t be. Speak well to your company’s strengths but do not over promise. As long as you are confident, respective and properly prepared, you’ll do just fine in your business venture. Thank you.
(By the way, I got an A)