• Articles / Blogs
  • Multilingual Event Planning: 4 Strategic Questions to Ask Yourself
Multilingual Event Planning: 4 Strategic Questions to Ask Yourself

Multilingual Event Planning: 4 Strategic Questions to Ask Yourself

Wednesday, 12 June 2019

An article by Eduardo Santana

Organizing an event is both exhilarating and stressful, particularly when facing atypical and complex technical requirements. Be it the first, second or the fifth multilingual event that you plan, you would likely agree that they present a unique set of challenges. Delivering interpretation in real time to event attendees speaking a different language demands expertise and preparation.
Luckily, there are dedicated service providers available to help you and become your valuable partner. Your answers to the below questions are all they need to deliver a proposal that meets your requirements for interpretation services. 
Getting started: What are the details of your event?

Simple details such as the event’s timeline: the start date, end date, space availability for setup and strike, and whether you will need interpretation services for the full duration of the event or only parts of it. The location and the type of venue are also essential information to share as they could trigger some challenges: is it a remote location? Is the venue equipped with freight elevators?

Your service providers may further enquire about the room dimensions including ceiling height. Language distribution systems can be installed in rooms of all shapes and sizes – here is an interpretation setup in a large arena – but it does impact the complexity of the project. To fully map out the setup strategy, they will also want to know about the type of meeting and layout configuration that you wish to have: will attendees be standing and moving around, will it be a roundtable discussion, a classroom training, or a U-shape table configuration?

With these first details, your language service provider and technology partner will be able to evaluate how much time and efforts will be needed for equipment installation and proper testing, contributing to an efficiently run operation. 

About your multilingual needs: What languages and for how many event attendees?

Is it a US-based conference with a handful of non-English-speaking audience members? Are these members also expected to speak and present in a foreign language? Are presentations happening in more than two languages? There are striking differences in the technicity of all these scenarios. 
Determining how many languages will need to be simultaneously interpreted is the cornerstone of managing a multilingual event. Once you have your full list of languages, go ahead and determine which ones are your from and to languages (e.g.: will it be only from English presenters to Spanish listeners or also from Spanish presenters to English listeners?). Planning this step properly is essential; it is a common misconception to think that all interpreters are able to accurately translate meaning both ways. 

You must also estimate how many event attendees will need interpretation services to ensure that your technology provider has the required quantity of personal receivers in stock. For large events, a strategy may be discussed at this point concerning the methods and responsibility for the distribution of receivers to attendees and for their collection after the event. International congresses can have thousands of attendees with talks in numerous languages; for peace of mind in planning and to meet quality expectations, seeking services from experienced interpreting and conference rental houses is essential.

Technology planning: Are you in need of more AV solutions for your event and who is in charge? 

The average mid-sized conference requires at least a microphone for the presenter, a display screen for presentations, and a PA sound system for participants in the room. These services are frequently provided by the onsite AV crew at the hotel or other venue hosting your event. Your multilingual service provider will need to interface with this AV company at the very least to supply the audio feed to interpreters working from their soundproof booth in the room.

Interactive conferences, where numerous participants discuss matters, require the use of a conference microphone system for high definition audio; audio quality being a critical element of a multi-lingual event. Your technology provider can source digital tabletop conference microphones for such cases. In addition, when interpreters cannot have the required visibility to perform their work, they must also be equipped to supply a video feed of the presenters to the interpreters’ workstation or interface with the onsite AV team to do so.

Other technical needs to consider: are you video recording and streaming your event? Will you do so in multiple languages? You may have numerous goals to leverage technology to increase engagement post-event; all such ideas should be shared with your language service provider for a thorough technology planning and coordination.

The one not to overlook: What is your budget?

The ability for all attendees to properly understand the matters being discussed is likely at the essence of your conference; therefore, appropriate budgeting for interpretation services to foreign-speaking attendees is critical. Yet, this point is frequently overlooked while budget planning is restricted to venue, catering, banners, and even giveaway expenses. But the required expertise and technicity of all trades involved in multilingual event delivery commands a certain budget. 

If you are open to discussing your budget for multilingual services, your service providers will present a diversity of solutions that will match your expectations. From a technology standpoint, the ideal equipment selection includes full-size soundproof booths for interpreters and digital infrared technology for language distribution, but there are alternatives available at a lower cost including tabletop booths and RF tour-guide type equipment. 

Our suggestion to event planners: even if you don’t have an immediate need for interpretation, request a quote for a 100-attendee 2-language multilingual event and establish a relationship with a vendor; this will ensure your reactivity when the need arises. 

Once you have those answers ready, your interpreting equipment provider will be able to detail out the plan and proposal presenting the necessary equipment selection, the right technical engi-neers and expertise for onsite operations, and the interpretation team with qualifications match-ing your event. You will have a partnership ready to set up and execute a successful multilingual event.