June 26, 2023
Virtual Events

Conference Language Interpretation - How to Do It Properly

Guide to providing on-site, hybrid, or online language interpretation at conferences and events, large and small scale.

Language interpretation is a crucial element in organizing conferences that involve participants from diverse linguistic backgrounds.

It ensures that all attendees can understand and participate in the conference proceedings effectively, regardless of their language proficiency.

Language interpretation involves the use of professional interpreters who provide real-time translation of spoken content from one language to another. If you are organizing a conference and need to provide on-site, online, or hybrid language interpretation, this comprehensive guide will help you understand the key steps and considerations involved.

Understand the Types of Interpretation

Before proceeding with organizing language interpretation, it's essential to understand the different types of interpretation available. The two main types of interpretation are:

a) Simultaneous interpretation: In simultaneous interpretation, the interpreter translates the speaker's words in real-time while the speaker is still speaking. This type of interpretation requires specialized equipment such as soundproof booths, microphones, and headsets for the interpreters and receivers for the attendees.

b) Consecutive interpretation: In consecutive interpretation, the speaker delivers their speech or message in segments, pausing after each segment to allow the interpreter to translate into the target language. This type of interpretation does not require specialized equipment and is suitable for smaller meetings or discussions.

Determine the Language Needs

The first step in providing language interpretation is to determine the language needs of your conference. Identify the languages spoken by the participants and the languages for which interpretation services are required. Consider the number of languages involved and the potential demand for interpretation services in each language.

It's important to work with professional interpreters who are fluent in both the source and target languages. They should be experienced in conference interpretation and have expertise in the subject matter of the conference to provide accurate and contextually appropriate interpretation.

Plan for Interpretation Equipment

If you opt for simultaneous interpretation, you will need to plan for interpretation equipment. This includes soundproof booths for the interpreters, microphones, and headsets for both interpreters and attendees. The number of booths and headsets will depend on the number of languages and participants requiring interpretation.

Ensure that the interpretation equipment is of high quality and in good working condition. Test the equipment before the conference to identify and resolve any technical issues. It's also crucial to have backup equipment available in case of any failures during the conference.

Coordinate with Interpreters

Once you have identified the language needs and arranged for interpretation equipment, it's time to coordinate with the interpreters. Work with reputable interpretation agencies or freelance interpreters who have a proven track record of providing reliable interpretation services.

Communicate the conference agenda and schedule to the interpreters well in advance, so they can prepare and familiarize themselves with the subject matter. Provide them with any relevant materials, such as presentations or documents, to help them prepare for the conference.

It's also important to establish clear communication channels with the interpreters during the conference to address any issues or questions that may arise. Assign a designated contact person who can liaise with the interpreters and provide them with any necessary information or support.

Plan for Interpretation Logistics

In addition to interpretation equipment and interpreter coordination, there are several other logistics to consider when providing on-site language interpretation at a conference.

a) Venue layout: Consider the layout of the conference venue and the location of interpretation booths and equipment. Ensure that the interpreters have clear sightlines to the speakers and any visual aids, such as screens or presentations, for accurate interpretation.

b) Seating arrangements: Plan for appropriate seating arrangements for attendees who require interpretation services. Reserve seats at the front of the conference room for these attendees to have clear visibility of the interpreters and access to the interpretation headsets.

c) Timing and breaks: Account for the additional time required for interpretation during the conference schedule. Simultaneous interpretation may slightly extend the duration of the conference, as there is a slight time lag for the interpreters to process and deliver the translation. Plan for breaks to allow the interpreters to rest and ensure smooth operation of the interpretation services.

d) Language identification: Provide clear identification of languages available for interpretation. This can be done through language flags, signs, or labels on the interpretation booths, headsets, and conference materials. This helps attendees easily identify and access the appropriate interpretation channels.

e) Technical support: Have technical support personnel available during the conference to address any issues with interpretation equipment, such as microphone or headset malfunctions. This ensures that any technical glitches are promptly resolved, minimizing disruptions to the interpretation services.

Conference Logistics and Setup

Communicate and Promote Interpretation Services

To ensure that all attendees are aware of the interpretation services available and how to access them, effective communication is crucial. Promote the availability of interpretation services through various channels, such as conference website, registration forms, email communications, and signage at the conference venue.

Clearly explain the process of accessing interpretation services, including how to obtain headsets, switch between languages, and return the equipment after use. Provide instructions in multiple languages to cater to the diverse linguistic backgrounds of the attendees.

Budgeting for Interpretation Services

Budgeting for on-site language interpretation services is a crucial aspect of conference planning. Interpretation services can be a significant cost, and it's important to allocate adequate budget for professional interpretation services to ensure quality and reliability.

Consider factors such as the number of languages, duration of the conference, type of interpretation (simultaneous or consecutive), and experience and expertise of the interpreters when estimating the budget. Obtain quotes from interpretation agencies or freelance interpreters and factor in the costs of interpretation equipment, technical support, and any additional logistical arrangements.

Stenomatic as a Cost-Effective Alternative to Traditional Interpretation

Stenomatic.ai can be a cost-effective solution for conference interpretation, offering potential cost savings compared to traditional on-site language interpretation methods. Here are some ways how Stenomatic.ai can save money on conference interpretation:

  • No need for physical interpretation equipment: Traditional on-site language interpretation often requires costly equipment such as interpretation booths, headsets, microphones, and wiring. With Stenomatic.ai, attendees can access the platform through their own devices, such as smartphones, tablets, or laptops, eliminating the need for expensive equipment setup and maintenance.
  • No need for interpretation booths: Setting up interpretation booths can be logistically challenging and costly. They require dedicated space, soundproofing, and technical setup. In contrast, Stenomatic.ai does not require any physical interpretation booths, as it is a cloud-based platform that operates through an app or web browser. This can result in significant cost savings in terms of space, setup, and dismantling of booths.
  • No need for travel and accommodation for interpreters: Traditional on-site interpretation often requires hiring interpreters who may need to travel to the conference venue and stay overnight, incurring expenses for travel, accommodation, and per diems. With Stenomatic.ai, interpretation can be done remotely, eliminating the need for travel and accommodation costs for interpreters.
  • Lower interpretation service fees: Stenomatic.ai offers a subscription-based model or pay-per-use pricing, which can be more cost-effective compared to the hourly rates typically charged by professional interpreters for on-site interpretation. This can result in potential cost savings, especially for conferences with limited budgets or shorter duration.
  • Scalability for multiple languages and attendees: Traditional on-site interpretation may require hiring multiple interpreters to cover different languages or large numbers of attendees. Stenomatic.ai, on the other hand, can provide interpretation in multiple languages simultaneously, without any additional cost per language or attendee. This makes it a scalable option that can accommodate diverse language needs and varying attendance levels without incurring additional costs.
  • Flexibility for pre-recorded content: Stenomatic.ai can also be used for pre-recorded presentations or webinars, offering flexibility in scheduling and accessibility for remote attendees. This can save costs associated with hiring interpreters for pre-recorded content or having to re-record presentations in multiple languages.
  • Additional functionalities at no extra cost: Stenomatic.ai offers added functionalities such as text search, annotation, and transcription, which can enhance the conference experience and knowledge retention for attendees. These functionalities are included in the platform at no extra cost, providing additional value compared to traditional interpretation methods that may require separate services or tools for these functionalities.

Tips for Smooth On-Site Language Interpretation

Here are some additional tips to ensure smooth on-site language interpretation at your conference:

a) Clearly communicate the importance of speaking at a moderate pace and pausing for the interpreters to provide accurate interpretation.

b) Share conference materials, presentations, and documents with the interpreters in advance to help them prepare and provide accurate interpretation.

c) Ensure that the interpreters have access to any technical jargon, acronyms, or specific terminology that may be used during the conference.

d) Provide clear instructions on how to use the interpretation equipment, including how to adjust volume, switch between languages, and return the equipment after use.

e) Have backup interpretation equipment, such as headsets and microphones, readily available in case of any technical failures during the conference.

f) Foster clear communication channels between the interpreters, speakers, and conference organizers to address any issues or questions promptly.

g) Consider providing training or guidelines to speakers on how to effectively work with interpreters, including speaking clearly, pausing for interpretation, and avoiding colloquialisms or jokes that may not translate well.

In conclusion, providing on-site language interpretation at conferences requires careful planning, coordination, and attention to detail.

By understanding the types of interpretation, determining language needs, planning for interpretation equipment, coordinating with interpreters, managing logistics, communicating and promoting interpretation services, evaluating and fine-tuning the services, budgeting appropriately, and following tips for smooth on-site language interpretation, you can ensure a successful and inclusive conference experience for all attendees, regardless of their language backgrounds.

Remember that professional interpreters play a crucial role in facilitating effective communication and bridging language barriers at conferences. Therefore, it is essential to work with experienced and qualified interpreters who are well-versed in the subject matter of the conference and the languages needed for interpretation. Hiring interpreters from reputable interpretation agencies or freelance interpreters with proven track records can help ensure the quality and accuracy of the interpretation services.

Lastly, be open to feedback and continuously improve the interpretation services based on the feedback received from interpreters and attendees. Regular evaluations, debriefing sessions with interpreters, and post-conference surveys can provide valuable insights into the strengths and areas for improvement of the interpretation services.

Organizing a conference with on-site language interpretation can be complex, but with careful planning, effective coordination, and attention to details, you can provide an inclusive and accessible conference experience for all attendees. By breaking down the process into manageable steps, being mindful of the logistical aspects, and prioritizing effective communication, you can ensure that language barriers do not hinder the success of your conference and that all attendees can fully participate and benefit from the conference content, regardless of their language backgrounds.

How Stenomatic Can Help You With Conference Interpretation

Stenomatic.ai is a cutting-edge technology that offers a viable alternative to traditional on-site language interpretation at conferences. As an AI-powered speech recognition and language translation platform, Stenomatic.ai has the capability to automatically transcribe and translate spoken content in real-time, making it a versatile and efficient solution for language interpretation needs.

One of the key advantages of Stenomatic.ai is its ability to provide interpretation in multiple languages simultaneously, without the need for physical interpretation booths or additional equipment. Attendees can simply access the platform through their smartphones or other devices, and choose their preferred language for interpretation. This eliminates the need for costly interpretation equipment and setup, making it a cost-effective solution for conferences with limited budgets.

Stenomatic.ai also offers the advantage of flexibility and scalability. It can be used in both small-scale and large-scale conferences, accommodating a large number of attendees and multiple languages. It can also be used for pre-recorded presentations or webinars, allowing for flexible scheduling and accessibility for remote attendees.

Another benefit of Stenomatic.ai is its accuracy and reliability. The platform uses state-of-the-art speech recognition technology that has been trained on vast amounts of data, resulting in high accuracy and quality translations. It can also adapt to different accents, dialects, and speaking styles, ensuring that the interpretation is clear and understandable for all attendees.

Stenomatic.ai also offers added functionalities such as text search and annotation, allowing attendees to easily search and highlight key points in the transcriptions for reference. This can be particularly useful for post-conference follow-ups and knowledge retention.