AP | PORTUGAL
As you know, planning events is not a simple task. On top of requiring the coordination of different activities and people, it's especially easy to feel lost or overwhelmed if you're doing this for the first time. Adding another language to the mix makes this challenge even more demanding.
But, what's difficult to do is not necessarily impossible. Below, we share some tips to help make planning a multilingual conference a little less daunting.
Think carefully about the number of languages you would like to provide at your event. When you send your invitations, clearly indicate the event's official language (i.e., the language that most of the speakers will use) and what language(s) it will be translated into. If you want your participants to take part and interact, they must be able to speak the language they feel most comfortable using.
2. Choosing the venue
If you are working with conference interpreters, bear in mind the size of the meeting room or conference venue, as you will have to accommodate interpreting booths over the whole event. Some venues already have these resources, but it is often necessary to rent equipment for hotels and historical sites. A simultaneous interpreting booth is approximately 2m x 2m x 2m in size and should be installed at the back or side of the room, so that the interpreters can see the screen where the presentations will be projected. If in doubt, always check with the event equipment rental company or the translation company whether the room you have in mind is suitable.
3. The ideal set-up for your venue
Understanding the various facets of the conference itself is the main starting point to create better meeting set-ups. These aspects include confirming the number of participants, understanding your clients' specifications and evaluating the available resources:
● Theatre or auditorium
This is essentially a line of chairs facing the front of the room. They are generally divided by centre and/or side aisles to enable easy access for participants. If taking notes isn't necessary for your meeting, or if you want to use the maximum capacity of chairs, this type of set-up style would be ideal.
It is better suited to meetings with a large audience, annual general meetings or product launches, for example.
● Lecture or classroom
Chairs and tables arranged in lines facing the front. This type of set-up may be used when participants are going to have food, use their computer or take notes during the meeting. This is more suitable for training and lectures.
● Horseshoe or U-shape
Arranging the tables in a U shape is also a very common type of set-up. The purpose of the opening is, above all, to enable presentations to be seen by all participants. This style is foolproof when there is a need to combine the presentation with some interaction or group discussion. Suitable for small annual general meetings, conferences and workshops.
Here, there are chairs all around the table. It can be rectangle, oval, or, when the group is bigger, you could opt to join smaller tables to form a square hole in the middle, all depending on the number of participants. This set-up is useful when you want to have face-to-face interaction with your audience. It is more suitable for executive committee meetings, board meetings, staff meetings and interviews.
This is when round tables are used and organised to make it easy to move around and be served when people are seated. This set-up style is suitable for gala dinners, wedding receptions and awards evenings.
● Cocktail/ Reception
If you have ever been to a cocktail reception, you will have noticed that it is a highly social event that requires movement, interaction and sometimes networking. There are tables specifically designed for this purpose, which are carefully spread out throughout the room or in an outdoor space, and normally provide a surface to lean on and put food and drinks.
This might sound very strange. Like the banquet style, there are chairs around a table, with a space to the left to give guests a great view of the front. Suitable for awards evenings and casual celebrations.
In this type of set-up, the tables and chairs are tilted at an upward and inward angle, so that even the person at the furthest end of each row can see the speaker and observe what's happening without any difficulty. This increases concentration during meetings. Suitable for training groups and lectures.
4. Technical Equipment
Share your conference programme, the number of participants and the meeting room's layout with your audiovisual equipment rental partner or translation company, so that they have a clear idea of what will happen, when it will happen and where it will happen. This will enable them to provide the most suitable equipment for your event. If your programme includes workshops, guided tours or teleconferences, booths alone will not be enough. Additional portable equipment will be needed to enable the interpreters to do their job. Don't forget that you may need to rent the meeting room for the day before the start of your event, so that the audiovisual or translation company has time to install all their equipment, namely booths, microphones, projectors, etc.
Where can you find qualified conference interpreters? The easiest and most appropriate thing to do is hire them through a language services company.
Where can you find qualified conference interpreters? Even if you can find them online typing “simultaneous interpreters” into Google, the easiest and most appropriate thing to do is hire them through a language services company. These translation companies generally have a database of interpreters for different language combinations and specialisms and can form an interpreting team for your event. A great advantage for you is that you only need to interact with one contact person to organise the interpreting, making your life a lot easier.
6. Conference documents
In a multilingual setting, it's more important than ever to prepare your presentations in advance. This will give you enough time to have them translated for the participants who don't speak the main language. Your interpreting company may also offer written translation services. That makes one less person to contact. Another advantage is that the agency can share all of your material with the interpreters before the conference so that they are better prepared for the topics and languages that they will have to work with.
7. Social Programme
If you're organising a social programme for your participants, don't forget that it should be multilingual. Are you going to visit the city? You could divide participants into language groups and hire interpreting guides who speak the specific languages. Conference interpreters can also do this work for small groups during excursions.
8. Inform your speakers
Most speakers don't like surprises. Especially when it comes to public speaking. When informing them, don't forget to mention that the audience is multilingual and that some participants will be listening and talking through interpreters. Share some tips with them about how to work with interpreters, so that they can adjust their speed and presentation for a multilingual set-up.
Run a final thorough check before the start of your conference. To this end, you should consider the equipment, interpreters and speakers.
9. Sound check
Run a final thorough check before the start of your conference. To this end, you should consider the equipment, interpreters and speakers. Take advantage of the time to check all equipment: is the microphone on? Can the interpreters hear the sound from the video being shown? Does the teleconferencing line work? Can you hear the interpreting through the headset? Make a checklist while planning the event - and make sure to have checked off all the points before your event begins.
10. Observe the audience
When the conference is taking place, pay attention and observe all the participants, so that you can step in immediately if there's a problem. Has someone dropped something? Is someone fiddling with the headset because it's not working? For bigger conferences, work with the attendants or have a right-hand man to help you assist your audience. Make sure that the attendants stay in strategic locations and adequately brief them before the conference so that they know what to do when needed. Stay in contact with them throughout the whole event.
11. Enjoy the experience
Even if you have ensured all of the points above, something unexpected may still happen. Or perhaps, despite all your precautions, one of the speakers will have a "clever idea" that your equipment cannot support. Don't worry too much about this! You will become more and more proficient and proactive with each event you organise. And if you're working with an experienced partner, you will be supported through every stage, especially when you need something resolved last-minute.
This text was not written by a native English speaker, but by a language lover. However, all our language services are always provided by native speakers.
AP PORTUGAL - Tech Language Solutions is a Portuguese translation company certified by the ISO 17100 International Quality Standard. The company offers a wide range of language services, which include translation (TEP), post-editing machine translation (PEMT), transcription, desktop publishing and subtitling, voice talent, software and website localisation technology, SEO and consulting. It invests enthusiastically in the development of partnerships and cooperation anywhere in the world where your organization may need a partner for the African, Brazilian and European Portuguese language.
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