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Virtual meetings: the language issue

Virtual meetings: the language issue

In these times of globalisation, flexibility and Corporate Social Responsibility, there is an increasing need for innovative meeting formats that respond to organisations’ new needs. Big multinationals, NGOs and SMEs that operate across countries need to stay in touch with their various stakeholders to develop strategies, implement plans, and continuously improve or innovate existing operations.

In the past, organisations were organised locally, with meetings being held at the office or in a nearby meeting space. In this day and age, however, organisations’ members and company employees are spread across the globe, making the organisation of live meetings quite a bit more complicated. Add to this that cross-border colleagues often speak a different language, and you see how an originally simple meeting can turn into a significant source of work and expenses. This is why nowadays companies and organisations are thinking twice about organising live events, and are turning towards innovative technologies to plan and hold their strategic meetings in a much more cost-effective way. You may know some of the existing solutions that have already been developed to this effect. Systems like WebEx, Skype and Facetime have made the communication between different parts of the globe and organisations a lot easier, without making the costs rocket, au contraire.

But what happens when your audience speaks another language? Do you have to resort to costly, ‘old school’ live meetings, or are there other options out there?

Actually, there are a number of solutions that do not only enable virtual meetings, but also incorporate language features to help multilingual teams to communicate quickly, efficiently and at a reasonable price. Alas, technology has not yet evolved to the extent that you can organise Star Wars-like multilingual holographic meetings, or that allow you to beam colleagues from one location to the other. However, the technologies that already exist will probably bring you a couple of steps closer to that faraway reality. The following four solutions will allow your stakeholders to stay at the office and communicate in real time in the language of their choice. And you? You will  hear their contributions and feedback in a language that you master. The descriptions below are very high-level, but if you require further information, please contact our office by clicking here.

Remote simultaneous interpretation 

This meeting format is the most hybrid one of the four. In this setting, all participants convene in the meeting room of your choice for the face-to-face meeting, and their interpreters work from a technical hub elsewhere. The interpreters are connected with the sound system of the venue and get a live video feed from the meeting room, so that they can interpret simultaneously as the discussions progress. This solution is particularly suited for meetings where participants need to interact amongst themselves between the official sessions, and where live contact is one of the objectives of the meeting. It is also the perfect solution when your venue is too small to install interpreting booths. The main advantages of this solution are that no travel and/or accommodation is to be booked for the interpreting team and that the meeting can be held on the company’s premises, provided that there is a meeting room large enough to accommodate the participants. Organising this type of set-up requires the intervention of a technician, who also stays at the venue to make sure that the signal that connects the presenters, the participants and the interpreters is no less than perfect.

Multilingual Webinars*

In this type of solution, simultaneous interpretation is added to a webcast platform. The speaker or presenter is able to share slides with the participants, who are all connected through their computers or laptops and who work from the comfort of their own offices or homes. Interpreters then also connect to the platform to see the slides, hear the presentation, and to interpret it into the pre-determined target languages. Thanks to this platform, neither the participants nor the interpreters have to travel, they just have to connect through a stable internet connection to get to work. Organising and configuring this type of multilingual webcast can be done in a matter of hours, so it offers maximum flexibility. There is no need for any particular equipment, a headset and an internet connection are all it takes! It is an ideal solution for short presentations or meetings, like announcements and updates or financial presentations. Participants can see presentations in their own language, and the platform can take up to 2500 participants.

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Multilingual Conference Calls

Simultaneous*

This platform supports multilingual conference calls. As the name indicates, it can be accessed with a regular phone. This is particularly useful for people who do not have a pc available, don’t have an internet connection or are just less tech savvy. They just dial in to the conference call with a regular phone, and pick a language channel to hear what is being said… in their own language! While the speaker talks from wherever he is located, the interpreter simultaneously interprets the message into the desired language. The participants then only hear the interpretation into their preferred language, and can virtually raise their hand if they have a question. This can be done by simply pressing a key on the telephone’s keypad. Whatever the participants ask, is then simultaneously interpreted into the speaker’s language. There is the possibility to also share slides, but this option is only available if the participant has a working internet connection. One of the great advantages of this system is that it is very easy and quick to configure, and that participants and interpreters can work from wherever they want, without having to use a laptop or an internet connection. The interaction is literally no different from that of a conference call with just one language! The platform provides up to eight languages for people to choose from.

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Consecutive

This solution has been around for a while already. It is ideal for more conversational calls where the discussion only involves one language pair. In this case, participants to the call also dial in with the phone, and speak in turns. After every statement, the speaker pauses to leave the interpreter the time to render the message in the target language. Once that is done, the next speaker can intervene and the interpreter again interprets once this second speaker finishes. The main advantage of this system is that all participants can hear the translation and the original. This may be ideal for participants who have some knowledge of the main language, but do not feel confident enough to understand all the nuances or details of the message. Here, again, everyone works from their office or home, and travel costs are nil. The main drawback of the system is that the length of the call is actually double of that of a regular conference call, and that there is a limit to the number of languages that is workable.

Presence has the technological platforms that will allow you to organise your multilingual meetings virtually, and save time, money and effort in the process. Combined with our database of experienced, professional interpreters, these platforms will take your virtual meetings and multilingual conference calls to a higher level. Our solutions meet the strictest security protocols and we guarantee confidentiality at all times.

Would you like to receive more information about these fascinating technologies or request a free demo? Contact us at contact@presencegroup.eu and we will introduce you to this brave, new, virtual world. Looking forward to meeting you in cyberspace very, very soon.