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Business Chinese: Essential Mandarin Expressions for Online Meetings

Necessity is the mother of invention, particularly in a time when everyone is working from home. Online meeting platforms, such as Skype, Google Hangouts, and Zoom, have revolutionized the world of business by allowing us to hold meetings with participants from all over the world. For those who are learning Mandarin for business purposes, this is a dream come true. It provides the perfect opportunity to put their skills into practice. But when the camera turns on, and it’s showtime, many find that they lack the vocabulary necessary to conduct a meeting entirely in Chinese.

Hosting meetings online adds a new layer of complexity. For many learners, it can be embarrassing to revert to English because they don’t know how to say ‘Your video is frozen’ or ‘I can’t hear you clearly.’ That’s why we’ve compiled a list of 32 essential phrases to help you tackle online meetings and take your business Chinese to the next level.

Getting Set Up

Unlike traditional meetings, online meetings require some extra effort to set up properly. Before the actual discussion can begin, everyone must make sure that the other participants can clearly see and hear them.

Here are some handy phrases to get you started:

喂?大家可以听到吗? Wèi? Dàjiā kěyǐ tīng dào ma? Hey? Can everyone hear me?
大家能看到我的屏幕吗? Dàjiā néng kàn dào wǒ de píngmù ma ? Can everyone see my screen?
我看不到你的屏幕。 Wǒ kàn bù dào nǐ de píngmù. I can’t see your screen.
我重新打进来。 Wǒ chóngxīn dǎ jìnlái. I will enter again.
大家都在吗? Dà jiā dōu zài ma ? Is everyone here?
XX在吗? XX Zài ma ? Is XX there?
我们再等一会儿。 Wǒmen zài děng yī huìr. Let’s wait a while.
现在可以开始了。 Xiànzài kěyǐ kāishǐ le. You can start now.
请大家静音。 Qǐng dàjiā jìng yīn. Everyone, please mute.
请大家打开摄像头。 Qǐng dàjiā dǎkāi shèxiàngtóu. Please turn on the camera.
XX,你可以打开摄像头吗? XX, Nǐ kě yǐ dǎ kāi shè xiàng tóu ma ? XX, can you turn on the camera?

Fortunately, many of these phrases use the same sentence structures that you’re already familiar with. They simply add some new vocabulary words, such as 摄像头, or camera. Here’s a tip: if you have trouble remembering certain words or short expressions, write them on a post-it note and stick it to your monitor. Then if you find yourself struggling to remember it during a meeting, you can sneakily glance over at your note.

Once you become more comfortable with these new words, you can start to use them in more complex sentence structures. For example, if you want to say 你可以打开摄像头吗?or 请大家打开摄像头, but you want to put more emphasis on the word 摄像头, you can use the 把 sentence structure. So instead, you would say 请把摄像头开设。You can read more about how to use 把 in this article.

These expressions help you start the meeting off on the right foot. They show your colleagues or clients that you are comfortable speaking Chinese and help you come across as both intelligent and confident. In the next section, we’ll talk about maintaining this impression when problems arise.

Technology Problems

The unfortunate reality of hosting digital meetings is that you are bound to run into tech problems sooner or later. This is another scenario where many Chinese leaners end up reverting to English. Being able to handle unexpected problems while still speaking Chinese is a true sign of fluency, and these phrases are an excellent way to prepare for those moments.

不好意思,我的网络刚才突然断了。 Bù hǎo yìsi,wǒ de wǎngluò gāngcái tūrán duàn le. Sorry, my network was suddenly disconnected just now.
不好意思,我的信号不是很好。 Bù hǎo yìsi,wǒ de xìnhào bù shì hěn hǎo. Sorry, my signal is not very good.
你的声音断断续续的。 Nǐ de shēng yīn duàn duàn xù xù de 。 Your voice is coming in and out.
你的声音太小了,我听不清。 Nǐ de shēngyīn tài xiǎo le,wǒ tīng bù qīng. Your voice is too quiet for me to hear clearly.
不好意思,我听不到你说话。 Bù hǎo yìsi,wǒ tīng bù dào nǐ shuōhuà. Sorry, I can’t hear you.
视频好像卡住了。 Shìpín hǎoxiàng kǎ zhù le. The video seems frozen.

When you can’t hear someone on a video call, or they can’t hear you, how can you tell them in Chinese that there is a problem? You can’t write Chinese characters on your screen with a pen, but you CAN type them using your keyboard. If you want to type messages in Chinese, you can use what is called a pinyin input keyboard.

To set up Chinese pinyin input on Windows 10, go to Settings > Time & Language > Language > Add a Language. From there, Select Chinese (Simplified, China) and complete the setup. This will allow you to switch to Chinese mode whenever you need to type messages in Mandarin. You can simply type the pinyin of the character you want and use the number keys to select the character from a list.

To set up Chinese pinyin input on Mac, go to Apple menu  > System Preferences > Keyboard > Input Sources. From there you can click the Add button and select Chinese, Simplified. This will also allow you to type in Chinese using pinyin and selecting the characters you want.

Conducting a Meeting

This next set of phrases can be used both for online and in person meetings. They are all polite expressions that help you run a meeting smoothly.

请稍等。 Qǐng shāo děng. Please wait.
请继续。 Qǐng jì xù. Please continue.
您先说。 Nín xiān shuō. You speak first.
不好意思,我刚刚静音了。 Bù hǎo yìsi,wǒ gānggāng jìngyīn le. Sorry, I just muted.
谢谢,我正想说。 Xièxie,wǒ zhèng xiǎng shuō.  Thank you, I was just about to say.
我把内容发到聊天框里。 Wǒ bǎ nèiróng fā dào liáotiān kuāng lǐ. I’m posting the content in the chat box.
大家有问题可以先发在聊天框里,之后我们一起讨论。 Dàjiā yǒu wèntí kěyǐ xiān fā zài liáotiān kuàng lǐ, zhīhòu wǒmen yīqǐ tǎolùn. Everyone can post their questions in the chat, and afterwards we will discuss them together.
接下来会议交给XXX。 Jiē xià lái huìyì jiāo gěi XXX. Next, the meeting is handed over to XXX.

Pay attention to the use of 您 instead of 你 in the expression 您先说. This emphasizes the respect that you show when you let someone else speak first. In business meetings, it’s a good idea to address others formally, especially if you are in a meeting with more senior colleagues, people you have never met before, or clients.

Saying Goodbye

Now that the main part of the meeting is over, it’s time to end on a positive note. These expressions help you wrap things up:

这个问题我们可以线下聊。 Zhè gè wèntí wǒmen kěyǐ xiànxià liáo. We can talk about this issue offline.
好的,我会跟进的。 Hǎo de,wǒ huì gēnjìn de. Okay, I will follow up.
大家还有没有问题? Dà jiā hái yǒu méi yǒu wèntí ? Do you have any questions?
对不起,我现在得挂了,回头再打给你。 Duì bù qǐ,wǒ xiànzài děi guà le,huí tóu zài dǎ gěi nǐ. Sorry, I have to hang up now.  will call you later.
感谢大家的参与。 Gǎnxiè dàjiā de cānyù. Thank you all for participating.
感谢各位的发言。 Gǎnxiè gèwèi de fāyán. Thank you for your comments.
今天的会议就到此结束了。 Jīntiān de huìyì jiù dào cǐ jiéshù le. Today’s meeting is over.

Once you have answered everyone’s remaining questions, you can quickly say goodbye before hanging up with a simple 再见, or if you will see them again soon, 下次见 or明天见。


Digital meetings have become an essential part of conducting business in the modern world, and that makes having the vocabulary to participate in these meetings an essential part of learning Chinese. The expressions we’ve looked at today will give you a solid foundation for running meetings and dealing with most common problems that arise. Once you become comfortable using these key phrases, you’ll be prepared to handle important meetings with Chinese clients, or you’ll be able to impress your Chinese colleagues with your authentic, modern vocabulary. To help you get started studying these expressions, you can download the full list as a PDF below. From there, you can make flashcards or put post-it notes on your computer screen to help you study as you work. If you have any questions, feel free to leave us a comment down below! We’ll see you soon with more business Chinese essentials.

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Calla Thielsen

In addition to being an editor and writer for DigMandarin since 2016, Calla is also a translation student in Montreal. As a contributor, their goal is to help others learn Mandarin in fun and creative ways. Calla believes that hands on techniques are the best way to help teach foreign languages.

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