One main language for the event should be decided. At the same time, separate time slots for interaction in a second language or local languages could be planned.
Materials, e.g. PPT, training material or event documentation need to be available in different languages in advance, to be used by participants in the translated form in parallel to the main language. Experts, therefore, need to be reminded to submit their respective materials well in advance to allow time for translation.
If additional interaction takes place, e.g. in the chat, translation can be handled by common translation tools such as Google Translate or by appointing one bilingual person per language group who assists during the meeting.
Before the meeting, participants could get access to (translated) material. Communication materials, e.g. invitation or agenda, might need to be translated but this is often done by the partners.
It is recommended to send/ give access to the translated version of the PPT in a document management system, so that participants can download it and follow it in parallel to the presentation of the expert/trainer. In some cases, interpretation is not even necessary, if participants have the translated written material.
Organisers should not forget translation of any follow-up materials, e.g. meeting minutes or assignment of tasks.
Speakers and participants should be reminded repeatedly to speak slowly and clearly to be understood by everybody.
Compared to an in-person event, including interpretation is less time consuming and more cost-effective in a virtual event, as it is easier to organise synchronous rather than consecutive interpretation, virtual sessions are typically shorter and no interpretation booths need to be set up. Subtitles (which are possible in some videoconferencing tools) might also be a feasible option. The same principles of work time apply as for in-person meetings, e.g. the need to alternate interpreters after a given time.
Interpretation can be organized either through a professional external company, hiring individual interpreters or assigning a person from the organizing team or the participants in case there is one with appropriate language skills.
Language diversity needs to be considered at the early stage of event design and planning. For example:
- Introduction and warm-up exercises should have a format that is suitable for different language groups.
- Small-group work might require multiple interpreters or needs to be organized by language group
If the meeting will be interpreted, it is recommended to have an exchange with the interpreters beforehand to be sure that the technical access is working on both channels and to brief him/her about the content and the participants.
Interpretation during the event can support various languages at the same time.
If a professional interpreter is not available, interpretation can be offered in a spontaneous way by a project team member or a colleague.
To allow people, who are not fluent in the main language, to express themselves, separate time slots for interaction in a second language/ local languages could be planned. A project team member or a bilingual colleague can interpret or summarize the discussion for those who do not speak this language.