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The new norm of global web conferencing has made it as easy as never before to connect with global peers and audiences. But when it comes to hosting multilingual conferences online, there are a few common rookie mistakes, that can stand in the way of your success.

Making your multilingual event a seamless experience for everyone can be a complex objective that requires more than just having the content in multiple languages. Anticipation and teamwork are key to avoid common pitfalls.

1. Poor sound quality

It might sound obvious but it is too often the main reason for unsuccessful interactions in online meetings. It goes without saying that verbal communication only works if everyone is able to hear and understand clearly. But this is even more important for interpreters tasked to process and render the speech into a different language in real-time.

Interpreters need crisp sound in order to do their job, which ultimately will allow the audience to understand and engage. Ensuring a quiet environment and using quality microphones with noise-cancellation options will help solve this problem. Plugged-in headsets not only help reduce noise and improve audio quality but also help to avoid the sound from producing an echo.

Gorica Ivanovic, Project Management Supervisor at Interprefy explains: "Around 70% of meetings, where speakers don't wear a headset, experience sound issues. Poor sound quality puts additional strain on everyone listening, including interpreters. This puts them at risk of jeopardizing their translation, while the audience may have such a bad user experience that they start fiddling around trying to fix the sound issue on their devices, disconnecting, and ultimately disengaging."


Tip #1 - Make sure all speakers are briefed to use quality microphones or headsets and perform a soundcheck in advance.


Helpful resources to improve audio quality:

2. Last-minute or no interpreter briefing

Even though interpreters are language and topic experts, every organization has its own terminology, acronyms, and names relevant to the meeting. To ensure accuracy, it is important to provide interpreters with topics, names and acronyms, technical vocabulary, presentation material, and, in general, as much background information as possible, well in advance of the meeting.


Tip #2 - Plan interpreting well in advance to secure enough time to book and prepare the right interpreters.


3. No dedicated technical support

While a given in on-site events, where speakers take the podium, often event planners underestimate the power of technical support and that their participants are using their own 'home-AV' equipment. Whether your meeting is in-person or virtual, the last thing you want is to have a technical problem and nobody around to solve it.

Online meetings involving conferencing interpretation require thorough sound-checking before the event and the right tools for all participant groups. Remote Simultaneous Interpretation platforms such as Interprefy provide interpreters with a soft console to work with their virtual booth partners as well as a remote support console and team that monitor the channels and jump in if an interpreter faces technical issues on their laptop.

"Working with an Interprefy remote support team means that we assist clients in setting up the meeting and help interpreters before the event, to ensure consistent quality and reliability. When the event starts, we keep an eye on the entire meeting or webinar, as well as on the backend, like interpreting channels. So we are the first to notice if something is wrong. In live events, the ability to respond quickly usually makes the difference between success or failure", Gorica Ivanovic explains.


Tip #3 - Don't risk your meeting or conference failing due to technical errors: work with a production or a technical support team.


4. Forgetting you are being interpreted

The interpreters' job is full of challenges that may escape those who are not familiar with the challenges of language interpretation. Take, for instance, speed of speech. The normal conversational speech speed is between 120-150 words per minute. If it’s over 160 words per minute it can make it difficult for the listener to absorb the content. 160 may sound like a lot but it is not uncommon in some languages, for some speakers, and in certain situations. Presentations, for example, are often read quickly and without intonation or pace, making the interpreter’s job extremely difficult.

Similarly, discussions, where more than one person speaks at a time, are frequent in meetings so it's important to remind speakers that there are qualified professionals providing real-time interpretation but they can only do that one person at a time.


Tip #4 - Remind speakers that interpreters are listening and translating, so their speech should be clear, concise, paced, and not to interrupt other speakers.


Etiquette for speakers at meetings with simultaneous interpretation

Watch this short clip with a few simple and powerful tips for speakers at meetings with simultaneous interpretation. We highly recommend sharing the video with speakers in advance of the meeting:


The success of a multilingual event depends on several factors besides picking the right platform and professional interpreters. Interprefy can help make your event a smooth experience for all parties involved and avoid errors by providing you with a meeting platform with interpreting capabilities, vetted and trained interpreters, speaker training, and tailored project and technical support before, during, and after your event.

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Patricia Magaz

Written by Patricia Magaz

Learn about the latest developments at Interprefy by Patricia Magaz, Content Strategist at Interprefy.