7 Tips for Crushing an International Meeting Remotely, According to an Interpreter

7 Tips for Crushing an International Meeting Remotely, According to an Interpreter

As millions around the globe have moved their classes and even social gatherings online international business and meetings between speakers of different languages look a lot different. In a pre-pandemic world, along with thousands of other professional language interpreters across the globe, I facilitated in-person multilingual interactions with regularity. Now, with a few adjustments, we continue to enable international organizations and companies to carry out essential events with employees or business partners. Here are my seven best tips to ensure you have the right technology and humans to continue communicating across language barriers in a remote world.

  1. Quality human translation is available online. Many of the same qualified interpreters you have hired before for an international meeting are now working online. Some entrepreneurial ones are reaching out directly, but you can also inquire with any you’ve contracted before to see if they are ready to transition to a new modality. If you have never had to hire an interpreter before, a good place to start is professional association directories such as the American Translators Association and the International Association of Conference Interpreters. Many of these professionals can guide you through the process, regardless of the languages they work in.
  2. Use an established platform for this specific purpose. While telephone and video interpreting has been around for a few decades, they are typically used more in healthcare and legal settings. For business events, you’ll want to use a platform designed specifically for remote simultaneous interpreting, so that no one has to wait for the interpreter to take their turn when speaking. Zoom has a language interpretation add-on that will work in a pinch, but companies like VoiceBoxer and KUDO have been developing their platforms for years, with a lot of input from translation industry experts. Other strong contenders are Interaction and Interprefy.
  3. It’s all about the bandwidth! After hiring the right professionals, the single biggest factor for success in remote interpreting is network speed. Presenters and interpreters need to have ethernet connections (I’m talking hardwired Internet), rather than WiFi.. Ideally, non-speaking audience members would have ethernet connections as well, but it’s not essential.
  4. External mics are a must for presenters. It is paramount that all parties be heard clearly and without interference. Whether it’s a mic on a headset or a standalone mic, anyone who will be speaking needs more than the computer’s built-in microphone, lest the interpreter confuses “cat” with “brat” or “drill” with “bill.”
  5. Stay safe and alert. By now, you know the drill with safety: Make sure links are shared only with relevant parties and add passwords for extra security. You can also help speakers and attendees prepare for an online event by setting some ground rules around webcam and microphone etiquette. Videoconferencing fatigue is real, and a smoother meeting with fewer faces on-screen means colleagues and business associates can focus on what’s important: your message.
  6. Rehearse with everyone present, on the same equipment as the live date. With the exception of true emergencies, set everything up ahead of time and schedule a dry run with everyone in place, including the interpreting team, using the same equipment and Internet/audio connection they will use for the real deal.
  7. Flexibility is key. Even if the technology is set up and ready to go, accurate communication won’t take place without a professional interpreter who is also experienced in working remotely. Such a working environment is more taxing for everyone, so be prepared to make adjustments to how long a meeting lasts as well as the number of interpreters hired for the job.

Don’t skimp on clear communication when meeting virtually. By finding the right technology and skilled language professionals, you can ensure you’re communicating clearly – despite the language barriers – at a time when the world needs it most.

About the Author

Elena Langdon is a Brazilian Portuguese translator and interpreter and a director of the American Translators Association. Connect with Elena on Twitter: @acolalang.

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