Whether you’re hosting a large multilingual online event or a smaller in-person meeting, you’ll want to give your audience the best possible experience. Providing professional human interpreters to interpret live while the speaker presents can break down the language barriers and turn attendees into active participants. The key is to prepare. We’ve put together nine best practices to provide the best interpreting services at a multilingual event. 

#1 Gather Information About Your Attendees

Learn as much as you can about your attendees well before the event so you can give them the best experience. Ask questions about their language, including things like demographics and age. For example, if an attendee is a Chinese speaker, you’ll want to know the region that the person is from and their age. A 70-year-old man from New York City will require a different Chinese dialect than a 22-year-old woman from San Francisco. Having detailed information will enable your LSP to select the best interpreter for the attendee.

#2 Set Expectations for the Attendees

Attendees may be worried or uncomfortable before the event. Do your best to prepare them by setting expectations. Share event information with them, including interpreter information, hardware/software requirements, the agenda, language or other limitations (if any), food/drink options, etc. Be sure to give them this information in their language well before the event. Setting expectations may be the most important part of a successful multilingual event.

#3 Inform the Interpreter(s) of Which Language and Dialects Will Be in the Audience

Give the interpreter(s) the language and disability information you received from your attendees so the interpreter(s) will be as prepared as possible to address the audience. As we mentioned before, languages can have nuances that vary per region, so the interpreter(s) should speak in whatever language and dialect are most relevant to the audience. Also, the speaker may need to change the cadence of the speech.

#4 Get Organized with Your Language Service Provider (LSP) at Least Two Weeks in Advance

More time is always better, but at a minimum, you should start getting organized with your LSP at least two weeks before the event. You’ll need this time to get information about the attendees to the speaker(s), test IT and hardware requirements, and handle last-minute details. Planning will also give the interpreters time to review the event content.

#5 Translate Event Material

Work with your LSP to have all the event material translated into the necessary languages, such as any communication, PowerPoint presentations, handouts, worksheets, feedback forms, etc. Also, have a plan to hand out any hard-copy materials to the attendees.

#6 Do Test Runs with Your LSP

Be prepared for the event! Run through whatever interpretation requirements you may have with your LSP. Test out the equipment, even if you can’t do it in the event’s facility. If possible, have backup equipment. Doing test runs is even more important if the event is online, as you want to address any technical issues before the event. Also, check in with all the speakers to make sure they’re ready.

#7 Set Expectations at the Beginning of the Event

Set expectations at the beginning of the event. Share your intention of inclusivity, describe audience limitations, and what you’re doing for the attendees. Reassure them that there’s help available and how to get help. Also, explain how the agenda will flow, and describe how the event may switch from simultaneous interpreting while a speaker is talking to consecutive interpreting during an interactive part like a Q&A session. Setting expectations should make the attendees feel more comfortable and engaged.

#8 Capture Feedback at the End of the Event

When the event ends, ask for positive and negative feedback on the event, language services, and technology. Ask the limited English proficient (LEP) participants and participants with disabilities how accessible the event was, and ask for specific ways to improve the services.

#9 Use the Feedback for the Next Event

Review the feedback with the necessary participants, from the speakers to the LSP to IT support, then take that feedback into consideration for the next event.

Interpretation Services at Avantpage

We recommend these best practices to any client who’s hosting an event, whether it’s online or in person. It’s a lot of work to organize an event, and you want the attendees and the speakers to get the most out of it. Making your LEP participants and participants with disabilities feel comfortable and prepared will contribute to the event’s overall success.

We’ve helped clients put on multilingual conferences, educational events, business meetings, and more. For more information about interpretation services at events, contact us at [email protected] or (530) 750-2040. We’d love to help you with your next event.