HYBRID EVENTS AND F2F CONFERENCES: 5 REASONS WHY YOU SHOULD INVEST IN INTERPRETING SERVICES
Updated: Mar 16
Planning an event it’s no easy feat; whether we’re talking about an international conference, a smaller multilingual meeting or an hybrid event on Zoom, there’s a lot of steps involved in ensuring the event is a success: to run your online event you need to organise speakers, delegates and staff, and source AV equipment and a tech team to manage what’s going on behind the scenes, and F2F conferences require all sorts of additional management, like coordinating arrivals and departures, booking venues, creating and complying with COVID safety protocols – it’s no surprise that oftentimes interpretation is left for last, with little time to organise and little availability left in the budget.
However, the interpretation service in multilingual events is the often-overlooked fundamental pillar that underpins everything else.
Bear with me with this comparison – you need to organise a surgery: the theatre is booked, the patient is ready, nurses and interns are there to assist, scalpels and retractors are all lined up, but without the head surgeon nothing can really go ahead. Sure, you might have an intern trying to perform the surgery, but would you let a non-qualified professional operate on a member of your family? Trying to do without the surgeon or opting for a less-skilled professional could open the way to a series of unforeseeable and dangerous situations.
This is exactly what happens when interpretation is poorly managed: the investment you have already made in setting up your event, promoting it on countless social media platforms, paying for an online platform or flying everyone over safely at a COVID-compliant venue - everything could go up in flame if those in charge of communication do not deliver. You might want to rely on what is known as a lingua franca, which in 99% of the cases will be English, but that as well opens you up to potential pitfalls: you’re in danger of alienating delegates and attendees whose English proficiency doesn’t allow them to fully participate, missing out on participants from the get-go as they don’t feel comfortable in relying on their English, having people drop off your event and lose out on potential leads, or wasting a business opportunity as communication (both verbal and cultural) breaks down during negotiations.
Now that you have been scared enough by the dark side of leaving it to chance when it comes to having professional interpreters at your event, let me show you the benefits you’ll reap by investing in this type of service: here are 5 reasons why your event needs professional interpreters.
1. The most beneficial and automatic benefit you gain by organising your event to be multilingual is that your potential audience suddenly grows exponentially. As we’ve said, English is the world’s lingua franca, but how many people really master English at a level that allows them to fully participate and benefit from the content of your English-only event? Not many, as we’ve already analysed in one of our previous posts. This is event truer for hybrid and online events: as your audience doesn’t have to commit to travelling in order to attend, they will certainly be more inclined to sign up if they’re offered the possibility to participate using their native language. This doesn’t mean, of course, that you should always offer interpretation into six or seven languages – which languages you offer will depend on the markets you’re targeting. Let’s now consider speakers. Expert, authoritative and engaging speakers are not easily found – and often they might not speak your language very well. By allowing them to present in their native language, you can add a killer speaker to your schedule and make your event even more appealing to your audience, providing in turn more valuable content – we’ll talk more about this in the third reason why you should invest in professional interpreting services, so make sure to keep reading!
To sum up, this is a no-brainer way of upping your game when it comes to monetising your hybrid event, and it will also make a F2F event look more worthwhile whilst travelling will remain problematic in the near future.
2. Once you’ve maximised your audience, let’s move onto the next benefit. Having a professional team of interpreters allows you to deliver your message effectively and your audience to understand it without any barrier. Engagement is potentially one of the most problematic issues of hybrid and online events, as it is way too easy for the audience to switch-off and be distracted by a plethora of outside stimuli. As we’ve already said, organising an event is neither easy nor cheap: why risk its success then? Investing in professional interpreting services is another step towards ensuring engaging communication between all parties thanks to professionals who have prepared for the event, know you, your business and want to help you reach your goals. This way you’ll be able to sell that pitch or new product you’ve developed, sign that new contract, help people reach their full potential and build long-lasting partnership beyond the event.
3. On a similar note, proving interpretation at your F2F or online event empowers attendees and speakers whose first language isn’t English (or the language you’re running the event in). Whilst it’s great that so many people speak more than one language, speaking two or three different languages perfectly is not your job nor your delegates’, speakers’ or guests’. We all know how much more articulate and knowledgeable people are when they speak in their own language; without interpretation, both speakers and attendees are limited in what they have to offer. Non-native speakers will most often prepare a simplified version of their presentation so they can deliver it using their limited language skills, most times simply reading off slides or repeating a script – we can all agree it won’t be the most engaging presentation you’ll listen to. However, a professional interpreting service doesn’t empower only keynote speakers during online events – what about technical experts? One of the examples that comes to mind is that of a brilliant and experienced technician I had the pleasure of assisting during a factory visit, who was brought on-site to help fix one of the essential machines the factory relied on for production. He had over 40 years of experience working on that same machine in Italy, and he was able to find the root of all the issues the UK plant was experiencing just by doing a lap around the it. Explaining what the issue was and how to fix it, however, was a different kettle of fish. He knew most of the specific terminology in English, but the problem was stringing sentences together to explain what he meant – that’s where the interpreting service stepped in and enabled communication to happen. It took us 3 days of hard work to fix the machine; imagine how long it would have taken without interpretation.
4. Besides communication, interpreters offer a cultural mediation service both whilst actively interpreting and during breaks at F2F events. Language and expressions vary between cultures, even close ones. Let’s take the UK and Italy as example: on the one hand, British culture is much more reserved, polite and less direct compared to Italian, and the language reflects this with a tone that is less assertive and more indirect; Italian, on the other hand, can be stereotypically loud, straight-forward and so direct to the point that it becomes blunt, especially for a British listener. Professional Italian interpreters mediate the language in order to convey the meaning and not the manner it has been expressed, in order to culturally adapt it.
On top of this, during breaks, interpreters act as a point of reference for foreign delegates and they also vehicle useful feedback for the event organisers, enabling them to improve guest experience and keep everyone happy.
5. Relying on interpreters is a long-term business choice: using the same provider of professional interpreting services allows you to create a mutually beneficial relationship – the more the interpreters get to know you, your events, your products and your clients, the better their service will be. This is why going directly to the source and book the same professional interpreters improves your chances of success.
If I have not been able to convince you so far, I’ll leave you with a funny but at the same time all-too-real video of how things can take a bad turn when the interpreter is not up to the job.
If you’d like to learn more about what professional Italian interpreters can do for you and your F2F or online event, please feel free to reach out.