Interpreting Events for Non-English Speakers

Planning a virtual event? Make it inclusive by interpreting it for your multilingual audience. We’ll cover the basics of event interpretation services, including what to look for in an interpreter and how to bring a multilingual event together so your event runs smoothly in any language. 

Remote Interpreting for Virtual Events 

There is an opportunity for event planners who prioritize multilingual inclusivity to connect with an underserved audience. 

In a recent survey, nearly half of event planners said interpreting events was not a priority – though 77 percent saw an increase in multilingual attendance at their events.  

Incorporating interpreting services in your events could appeal to these frustrated users, gaining your organization’s loyalty. 

Event interpretation services can be provided either on-site or remotely. If you’re hosting an in-person event, you’ll want to consider both options. 

For virtual events, Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) uses technology to allow each participant to listen and interact in their native language. 

For the best user experience, incorporate interpreting into your event plan from the very start of event planning. Addressing your interpreting needs last minute may make it difficult to create a seamless experience for multilingual attendees. It also costs valuable time you could spend marketing your event, registering attendees, and engaging with your audience. 

How Virtual Interpreting Works 

Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) is the gold standard for remote interpreting. Rather than the presenter and interpreter taking turns speaking, the interpretation happens in almost real-time, creating a seamless experience for the audience. 

  1. The presenter speaks naturally in their native language. Their presentation is streamed through a cloud-based RSI platform.
  2. While the speaker is talking, the interpreter follows along and interprets into a microphone. The interpreter’s audio is also streamed through the platform.
  3. The audience watches the video stream of the presenter and listens to the audio in their desired language. In this way, every audience member receives the same presentation experience. 

The advantage of live interpreting rather than making interpreted recordings available after the fact is that every audience member can participate. 

People who want to ask a question or respond to what the speaker has said can do so in their native language, and the interpreter will simultaneously interpret their comment and the presenter’s response. 

Simultaneous interpreting is difficult to master, and the best interpreters are in high demand. Because the activity is so taxing, interpreters work in pairs, swapping every 20 to 30 minutes. 

This team also works together to research the topic and review reference materials before the event. During the event, the interpreters support one another and share notes. This will help ensure a successful event.

Coordinating Interpretation Services for Your Virtual Event 

The size and location of your event will determine the best interpreting format. Before you begin planning, consider every aspect of the event: 

  • In what format will content be presented?, Slide presentations, lectures, panel discussions?
  • How many people do you expect to attend, and what languages do they speak?
  • What platform will you use to host the event? In our experience, an RSI platform with Zoom integration provides the best experience.
  • Do you need event translation and interpretation? While the interpretation covers the presentations themselves, do you need translation of event materials such as:
    • Communication before or after the event, such as email, social media, or advertising. 
    • Communications at the event, such as signage and instructions to access the interpreting services.
    • Recordings of the presentations and their materials for increasing ROI of use. (Commonly used in situations such as Instructor Led Training.) 

Odds are, your attendees are already comfortable using Zoom for online meetings. When integrated with an RSI tool, the interpreters have their dedicated behind-the-scenes platform while the attendees stay in the familiar Zoom interface. 

Choosing the Best Interpreter 

The best technology in the world won’t save you if your interpreter is subpar. 

Remember that interpreters are not machines simply spitting out word-for-word translations. They choose their words and phrases to convey the presenter’s idea and message clearly. 

For example, an English-speaking Interpro client wanted to market a seminar to affiliates in France. The English materials used phrases like “ballpark number” in sales training – an idiom that doesn’t exist in French. Had the interpreter simply interpreted the phrase word for word, it wouldn’t have made sense to the multilingual listener. Thus, rendering your message unheard and the listener’s time wasted.  

Fortunately, the client worked with an experienced interpreter who rephrased the material to convey the message. 

This becomes even more important in professional events where industry terminology, acronyms, and jargon may be used. Your interpreter must be not only a native speaker of the target language but also a subject matter expert in the topic of your presentation (and maybe even knowledgeable of your company-specific language). 

Subject matter experts will understand how to share information so that the presenter and the audience understand one another. 

The best interpreters are: 

  • Responsive and professional 
  • Subject matter experts who can convey the information confidently, inspiring audience trust 
  • Concerned with the quality of the interpretation above all else 
  • Native speakers of the particular dialect you need 
  • Certified to perform conference-level interpreting 
  • Familiar with the virtual platform you’ve chosen to host the event 

Finding a qualified interpreter is a monumental task. It’s like hiring an employee – building a candidate list, reviewing resumes, checking references, confirming qualifications, and negotiating rates. 

It’s much faster and easier to work with a trusted language service provider like Interpro, which has pre-vetted and qualified interpreters ready to work with you. 

Start Early 

You can’t expect your interpreter to simply show up the day of the event, ready to go. To provide the best experience to your audience, they need to prepare. 

Send presentation materials such as slide decks and speaker notes to your interpreter as early as possible. This allows time for them to research the topic and familiarize themselves with the most relevant industry terminology in the target language. 

Localization experts can also weigh in on the visual elements of the presentation, ensuring graphics, symbols, and colors are understood the way they are intended. 

The interpreter isn’t the only one who needs to prepare. Notify speakers that the event will be interpreted while presenting it, so it’s important to moderate their speaking speed and stick to the planned material. 

Best Practices for Event Interpretation 

  •  High-quality interpreters with subject matter expertise book up fast, so don’t assume you can find one on short notice. Start looking for an interpreter as soon as you have a firm event date and know which languages you will need. 
  •  Provide interpreters with relevant materials and speaker notes as soon as possible before the event. Include glossaries of industry terminology, reference materials, the agenda – anything that could help them prepare to deliver a seamless interpretation. 
  • Clarify your expectations of the interpreter and your internal team before the event.
  • Who will host the virtual conference room? 
  • Who will coordinate with attendees to ensure they have the necessary technology, meeting ID, etc., to access the event? 
  • Who will address video, audio, and technical issues during the event? 
  • Rehearse. Before the event, have everyone involved log in to the platform and hold a practice event to uncover any issues.
  • Interpreters should be able to see the presenter while they are speaking. A reliable video stream is a must.
  • Latency between sound and image should be 2 seconds or less. 

Virtual Event Interpreting FAQs 

  • How do you ensure interpreter quality and performance?

    Interpro has high standards for our event interpreters. To join our team, a language professional must have a bachelor’s or master’s degree in conference interpretation or have provided interpreting services at 60 or more conferences over the past three years. If the professional specializes in a rare language, they must have some other means to demonstrate their skill in simultaneous interpretation.

    Once hired, our interpreters undergo a rigorous onboarding process to ensure top-notch performance.

  • How do you handle feedback about interpreting services?

    To maintain our ISO certifications in Quality Management and Translation Services, we are committed to a culture of continuous improvement. We collect client feedback throughout and after each event to constantly improve our processes and build our understanding of client needs.

  • Which languages can you interpret?

    Interpro can provide interpreters for virtually any existing modern language. 

Schedule Interpreting for Your Event 

When you know when your event will be held and which languages you need, it’s time to secure your interpreters. 

The fastest, easiest way to do this is to work with a language services partner like Interpro. Rather than hunting for qualified interpreters and negotiating with them individually, you can leave it to us to provide high-quality professionals. 

We’ll also guide you through interpreting your event for your virtual audience. In addition to interpreters, we provide industry-standard software, tech support, and a dedicated project manager to help your event go off without a hitch. 


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