Events are a key part of the way most organisations do business. They are an incredible way to promote your brand, find new audiences and new clients, and grow your business.

This is even more true in a globalised world. Today, your event – whether physical or virtual – can reach a massive audience on all sides of the globe.

That’s a huge opportunity that businesses of all sizes are taking advantage of. But there’s one key factor that determines whether global events like this are successful:

The clarity of your communication. So when your audience hails from different regions and cultures and speaks different languages, high-quality professional translation and interpreting are critical to getting your message across.

Without them, your event may offer little or no value to your audience. But with them, you can deliver your message clearly. Plus, translation and interpreting open up a whole range of other benefits for you as an event organiser:

Why use translation and interpreting services at your event?

Language services come in several different varieties. The one that springs to most people’s minds is the kind of onsite interpreters you might see at a big conference or trade show.

Yet they also run the whole gamut from translation services localising your event marketing and outreach materials to remote interpreters supporting your virtual events.

The simple rule is, the more diverse your event and the more global you want it to be, the more you can and should use language services to make it happen. This will enable you to:

1) Reach a much larger, more diverse audience

Organisations around the world are discovering the power (and, later, hugely increased revenue) that expanding their audience to encompass huge new parts of the world makes possible.

With the right language services, your physical or virtual event can attract people interested in what you have to say from all corners of the world.

Of course, the more people you reach, the more people interact with your brand, and the more people receive your message. Getting translation and interpreting for your event ensures these people receive your message loudly and clearly.

2) Improve understanding (and brand reputation)

Reaching out only to an audience that speaks your native language limits you unnecessarily. If you are a native English speaker and your event is online, for example, remember that only around 25% of internet users speak English. Plus, many of those that do may not speak it to a standard that makes understanding complex technical concepts easy.

What’s more, if you provide the language support needed to make your event’s content clear to a wider audience, you do more than underline the value you provide. You also become known as an organisation that puts in the effort – that goes the extra mile – to support your team members, clients, and prospects that need that kind of language support to get full value from your events.

People remember things like this. If you’re reaching out to new audiences, this is just the kind of brand reputation you want to be generating for yourself. One of inclusion and support that encourages people to attend your future events too.

3) Minimise barriers to attendance

In today’s globalised world, more and more organisations are becoming aware of just how important it is to incorporate interpreting and translation services into their processes.

These services can help you maximise attendance at your event in many ways. The first is in scale, reaching a greater audience.

The second is in overcoming barriers that might otherwise prevent some delegates from attending. The most important is overcoming barriers to understanding what is being said in any detail.

This is a great opportunity to reach out to potentially keen, engaged audiences who speak languages or hail from regions that are often chronically under-served with international content.

4) Encourages clear and calm communication

If you’re at a physical or virtual event and you are struggling to understand what’s going on, you’re not likely to get full value from it. In many cases, attendees who can’t follow what is being said simply leave. Especially in the world of virtual events, it’s very easy to simply click and sign off.

Good translation and interpreting – not only of event materials but of communications between delegates, presenters, and organisers as well as between delegates themselves – encourage the formation of a convivial, relaxing atmosphere at an event.

This allows everyone to contribute as easily as they would if the event was solely in their native language. As one of the most valuable parts of an event like a conference is getting input from a variety of people, this can be a vital part of hosting a worthwhile event.

5) Meet legal requirements

In some parts of the world – Canada, for instance – providing language support for certain groups and people is a legal requirement for some events and related materials.

It’s always worth investigating rules and regulations like this or working with a local partner who understands them if you are holding your event outside of your home region.

6) Go beyond your immediate event

A key role for translation services that goes beyond your event itself is the localisation of your pre-event marketing, during-event support, and outreach materials.

You can also use translation and interpreting services to deliver even more value for attendees and potential future attendees even after your event is over.

You could offer repurposed materials such as sections of translated transcripts of key event talks and solutions as well as a whole range of others that keep connections between you and your attendees active well after you call time on the final day.

Event interpreting and translation best practices

If you’ve never hosted an international or multilingual event before, making sure you get your language services set up correctly can feel like a major obstacle.

But armed with just a few key tips, you can soon get the language support you need in place with minimal fuss:

1) Work with an experienced project manager

Using professionals is really the only way to proceed with language services. Remember – the quality of the language support you provide is going to have a huge impact on your international audience. It will affect how well they understand the content and message you impart, of course. But the quality of support also reflects on your company as a whole.

Working with a professional Language Service Provider (LSP) also ensures you have access to experienced project managers. Having organised dozens of events in the past, you know that every aspect of the language support you need will be considered.

They can ensure you have everything from any necessary technical support to providing an always-ready point of contact between you and your translation and interpreting team.

2) Localise support materials

Providing on-the-day interpreting cover for your key speakers is usually the first place organisers’ minds go when it comes to language services. But don’t overlook the vital role your support materials play in linking your audience with what is being said on stage or screen.

These materials might include things like handouts and booklets. Yet, crucially and often overlooked, they might also include presentation slides and other aids your speakers are intending to use.

3) Test your timing

If you’ve run an event before, you’ll know how important it is to check the timings of every speaker and section. Inevitably, things will overrun. Yet understanding where there is scope for this to happen and allowing for it is one of a good event organiser’s major strengths.

The same is doubly true when you introduce language services to the mix. For instance, there are two main types of interpreters. They can impact the timing of your event schedule in different ways:

  1. Simultaneous interpreters – are like those you’ll have seen on TV during big global conferences at the EU or UN. They provide verbal translations over headphones and shouldn’t impact the time a speaker takes. You can also get chuchotage or “whispered interpreting”, where a linguist sits just behind one or two delegates that need language support and murmurs a translation to them.
  2. Consecutive interpreters – are useful at conferences, seminars, webinars, and other events where two or more parties may want to interact with each other. They require each speaker to pause after they’ve spoken a few sentences so that the linguist can provide a verbal translation. Needless to say, this often requires a little extra time and should be planned for.

4) Select between onsite and remote interpreting

There are two main modes event interpreting services tend to be delivered in. Each has its benefits:

  • Onsite interpreting – if simultaneous, requires a soundproof booth or room. But can also provide consecutive interpreting for audience interaction segments or smaller events. Can be particularly convenient in venues where facilities are already set up.
  • Remote interpreting – sometimes described as RSI (Remote Simultaneous Interpreting), is delivered with the linguists off-site, linked via a – hopefully strong and stable – internet connection. One advantage of this method is that there are no travel expenses attached to hiring your linguists.

5) Consider where your linguists will (physically) fit

If you’re hosting a physical event and you’re intending to provide language support for it, it’s a good idea to investigate the venue with this in mind beforehand. The requirements will vary depending on what you have in mind:

  • Simultaneous interpreters onsite – will require a separate soundproof booth and audiovisual links to the performance area so they can do their jobs. If you have multiple performance spaces or stages, this will need to be taken into account. There are tabletop booths that provide partial screening. While these are conveniently portable though, they don’t provide the same audio quality that a separate soundproof booth or room does.
  • Remote interpreters – won’t need the physical space. But you will need a reliable, high-speed internet connection that’s been heavily tested before your event.

Whichever solution you’re thinking of using, working with an experienced LSP ensures you have expert advice and recommendations to call on throughout.

6) Prepare a brief for your linguists

If you’re working with an language service provider, you’ll know that the translators and interpreters you’ll be using will be experts in your specific field or industry. Combined with their native-level knowledge of the region you need them to support in terms of language, this means they should be fully aware of all of the latest industry technical terms and jargon that will be used at your event.

But even given that, it’s still good practice to prepare a brief for your linguists covering the subjects that will be under discussion at your event and any specific terms that you and your organisation use.

This kind of briefing ensures there is no room for miscommunication and should take place well before your event is due to begin if at all possible.

How to get the most from your event interpreting services

Using a professional interpreting service is a given if you want your multilingual event to succeed. But how do you ensure you get the best from the LSP you’ve chosen on the day? You can start by:

1) Create the right environment for speaking

Using a soundproof booth or separate room is vital if you want your interpreters to be able to work their magic without distraction.

For virtual events, you can provide the same sort of environment by ensuring that participants who are not actively speaking are properly muted.

2) Create the right environment for listening

Having your audience use headsets while your onsite simultaneous interpreters speak into microphones is the way to create the kind of clear environment both sides need to listen to what is being said.

You should also make sure that the speaker whose words are being translated can clearly be heard. Either use a PA system or otherwise ensure your interpreters have a clear, uninterrupted link to the words they need to translate.

Again, for virtual events, you should consider insisting on headsets for attendees to minimise background noise. Muting discipline is vital. Obvious as it may seem, if someone is accidentally speaking while muted, they won’t be heard by your interpreters.

3) Brief your speakers

For both virtual and physical events, it’s worth taking the time to give your speakers and other guests a quick briefing. You should remind them of the fact there will be an international audience and interpreters present and offer some advice as to how they might subtly adjust their speech for the sake of clarity:

  1. Avoid fast-talking and mumbling – speaking marginally slower and making sure to enunciate words is good practice in public speaking anyway. It’s doubly so when your words are being translated.
  2. Avoid people speaking over each other – as well as being confusing for your audience, crosstalk is very difficult for interpreters to handle. Always try to set up your events to minimise it.
  3. Avoid long, complex sentences – the more wordy and convoluted a sentence, the more difficult it is for a linguist to translate. On top of comparatively shorter, concise sentences often being good for speakers to get their point across, they make life easier for linguists who need to alter each sentence to match the different grammatical structures of other languages.
  4. Avoid puns and idioms – these may have equivalents in another language, but they’re incredibly tricky to verbally translate on the spur of the moment. Jokes and humour can also fall flat, so interpreters should be briefed – and in some cases can be consulted for advice – beforehand.

COVID-19, virtual and hybrid events

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual events have become increasingly necessary and a popular tool in the sales, marketing, and brand promotion arsenals of all kinds of organisations.

Luckily, their huge increase in use has coincided with the advancement of the kind of technology that makes them competitively easy and cost-effective to deliver.

Whether your event is physical, virtual, or a hybrid though, working with professional linguists is a must. They give you the expertise you need to properly leverage the huge benefits of global reach, clarity, brand reputation and outreach opportunities that translation and interpreting offer and make your event a success.