THE ULTIMATE GUIDE TO MULTILINGUAL ONLINE EVENTS – PART II: THE INTERPRETING TEAM
Updated: Nov 14
Now that we’ve laid the perfect foundations for your next multilingual online event, let’s explore more closely one of the main characteristics of this type of event: the interpretation service – an essential feature of every truly multilingual online event.
Multilingual events – both remote and F2F – wouldn't exist without this service: interpreters, often known as live translators or simultaneous translators, allow your audience and delegates to interact even though they speak different languages, acting as a bridge between people, ideas and cultures.
You might be asking yourself a few questions right now:
How does interpreting work?
What do I need to do to add interpretation to my online event?
Who are interpreters?
How do I find one?
Let’s begin with defining RSI, i.e. Remote Simultaneous Interpreting, the most common mode of interpreting used during online and virtual events.
This modality relies on technology to convey the more ‘traditional’ simultaneous interpreting: whilst the speaker is delivering their presentation, the interpreters listen, analyse, translate and speak out loud their interpretation in a separate audio channel for the benefit of the audience and other participants, and rather than working in a physical booth they work from their home offices or an interpreting hub.
What differentiates SI and RSI? RSI allows for the decentralisation of the interpretation, meaning interpreters, audio technicians, speakers, delegates, audience and organisers do not need to be in the same room for the service to be delivered - they can actually be on different continents, at different times.
A crucial aspect of RSI is the quality and the performance of the technology underpinning the service: to compensate for the inherent sub-par audio quality involved in remote events, all stakeholders should use top-notch internet connection and state-of-the-art AV equipment in order to ensure that the audio and video feeds are coming through without distortions or aren’t otherwise compromised.
This has less to do with the platform used to broadcast/host the event than with the quality of actual hardware. As long as the software is streamlined enough to avoid re-routing and other similar ‘back-end trickeries’ (which only cause loss of AV quality), the hardware really makes a difference here.
When it comes to the connection, anything less than cabled-in fibre will cause issues at one point or another, and so will low-quality headsets and microphones, such as Bluetooth or in-build devices.
So are all platforms created equal when it comes to hosting a multilingual online event? Not really, but that’s a story for another day - make sure to follow us on LinkedIn or Instagram so you don’t miss out on the next chapters of this guide!
Let’s go back to the subject of this second chapter - interpreting: we’ve seen what this service offers, but who provides it? Can any person speaking two languages help you deliver a multilingual online event?
Again, not really.
Interpreters are highly-skilled language professionals who have undergone a specific training to provide exactly this service. They have perfect command of two or more languages, but being bilingual isn’t sufficient to qualify as interpreters: on top of this in-depth language knowledge, interpreters have studied specific techniques to be able to listen, interpret and speak at the same time for long periods of time (up to 30 minutes, non-stop), conveying the original message in another language without losing important details in a coherent and accurate manner throughout.
Now that we know who to look for, how do you build the perfect interpreting team for a multilingual online event?
When you’re trying to find interpreters to help you during your virtual event (or any F2F event for that matter!), there are a few first ports of call you can resort to:
LinkedIn: try looking up “Italian interpreter in London” or “English to German interpreter” to get a few initial results, and then start skimming potential matches based on their experience with RSI and the topic of your event.
Professional associations: most professional associations offer a database where you can look up members based on their title, experience and location. Some examples for the UK are AIIC, ITI, and CIOL.
Here are a few pieces of advice to help you during this process:
‘Translator’ isn’t a synonym for ‘interpreter’: whilst there is some overlap between these professions, make sure you’re selecting candidates that have ‘interpreter’ in their title.
Remember: interpreters always work in pairs! Always factor 2 interpreters for each language offered during the event.
Feel free to ask for their CVs and bio in order to assess their profiles, but don’t expect them to release names of previous clients: professional conference interpreters abide to a very strict confidentiality code and unless the client specifically permits it, they can’t divulge any information about previous assignments or contracts they fulfilled.
PRO TIP: there is no need to look for each interpreter separately. Interpreters have a closely-knit network of trusted colleagues and once you find someone that fits the bill they’ll happily recommend suitable colleagues to work with them and to cover for the other languages needed.
Now that you’ve put together the perfect team with the help of your interpreters, how do you work with them?
We have covered this in some other posts on this blog, but here are a few tips:
Keep them in the loop and involve them in the organisational effort: they will be able to give you feedback on what works and what doesn’t during multilingual online events and on what is the best way to make your event is engaging for all involved.
Send them all the material you have in order to help them prepare: slides, agenda, previously used documents, list of speakers, worksheets - anything.
Keep communication open between them and the speakers, so they can check the terminology.
Consider them as part of the team from start to finish!
PRO TIP: establish a person of reference for the interpreting team and liaise with them directly in order to streamline communication.
Let’s sum this chapter up.
RSI is the main modality used during multilingual online events. To be effective, this requires:
a platform that offers the interpreting function or where interpreting can be integrated with ad-ons.
speakers and presenters to use a cabled-in connection, preferably fibre.
quality AV equipment, such as professional microphones and cabled-in headphones.
an expert AV team.
The RSI service should be offered by experienced professional conference interpreters:
You can find them using the right keywords on LinkedIn or using professional associations directories.
They should have the correct language combination, experience with RSI (as that means they have the correct set-up at home to provide this service) and with the topic of your event.
They should be involved in the event from the start and kept in the loop, with all the necessary material provided ahead of time to help with preparation.
They are always more than happy to offer advice on how to best organise and manage multilingual online events.
In the next chapter we’ll cover the best platforms to host a multilingual online event, exploring the pros and cons of each when it comes to interpreting - remember to follow us to never miss an update!
In the meantime, feel free to reach out if you have any questions about live translators for online events or F2F meetings, we’re more than happy to help.