Not too long ago, we provided interpretation services for a major event that took place at several venues across Boston and required interpretation in more than one language. While this kind of event is a common occurrence for Red & Blue, we recognize that many event planners have never used interpreters at their events. Research shows that international participation at conferences is growing, making it more likely that you will need interpreters in order to provide a superior experience for your attendees. Here are four tips that will make your event go more smoothly.
1. Contact a localization agency early in the process. Depending on the subject matter of your conference you may need to book your interpreters far ahead of your conference. For example, if you need an interpreter who is familiar with medical device terminology, biotech jargon, or anthropological terms for the Mayan civilization, your localization agency will need some time to find the perfect people. Give your agency as much heads up as possible so that they can find native speakers with a background in your field.
2. Provide speech materials whenever possible. Often, conference organizers request that speakers provide their PowerPoint decks ahead of time so that they can be loaded into the system. Be sure to provide copies of the decks to your interpreters and, if at all possible, any other background information or speaker notes that you can get your hands on. The more preparation your interpreters can do prior to the event, the greater the accuracy of the interpretation, especially if you are using simultaneous interpretation.
3. Overestimate. Sometimes clients minimize their interpretation needs in order to save costs. However, what we often find is that at the last minute the number of attendees that need wireless headsets increases as participants realize that the option is available to them. Also, event planners often forget or underestimate the need for interpreters at break-out sessions. Adding interpreters and equipment at the last minute can increase costs and will very likely increase stress. We advise you to think carefully in advance about all the sessions where you may need interpreters either for speakers, or to enable the full participation of attendees. It's a lot easier to scale back than to add in, although high-quality providers should be able to rise to the occasion.
4. Double check the languages. This may seem like a no brainer, but it is critical that you check with your attendees to ensure you're providing interpreters in the right languages. Just this week the Swedish government landed in the papers because they provided Romany language interpreters to Romanian immigrants. Romany is a completely different language than Romanian, and none of the immigrants could understand it. The last thing you want to do is promise a high level of service and then fail on something easily avoidable.
With the right level of planning, you can make your event stand out as a must-go for international participants. Expand your audience and your revenue by providing excellent service for your attendees. Build in comprehensive interpretation services from your earliest planning stages, provide your interpreters with as much background information as possible, and plan carefully for when and where you will need interpreter services. Your reward will be great customer feedback and the opportunity for more international growth.