Tips on Organizing a Multilingual Conference
As old hands at organising successful multilingual conferences we continuously come across clients who may be unaware of all the different considerations that need thought in the planning stages. The tips below offer an initial insight into the main areas of importance.
The Floor Language
In simple format conferences there will only be one floor language with the occasional short intervention of another language, such as in Q&A sessions. The floor language is what will be termed the "active" language and all others "passive" languages.
In more multilingual conferences there very well may be a number of speakers/presentations in many languages. In such cases there will be multiple floor languages.
It is important to assess whether there will be one or many floor languages as this will impact the interpreters you need.
The reason it is crucial to understand what floor languages will be used is so the interpreting agency can assemble the right team to ensure the translations are as seamless as possible.
You may sometimes come across interpreters stating their language abilities according to 'A', 'B' and 'C'. This means 'A' is their native language (active), 'B' is their language of habitual use (also active) and 'C' language(s) is their passive language.
If you have a team with a large number of active languages, a lot more language combinations can be accommodated. If there are interpreters who do not have one of the floor languages as one of their active/passive languages they will rely on a common feed, i.e. if someone is speaking in Farsi and most of the interpreters do not know Farsi as either their active/passive language they will rely on one interpreter to translate into English and the rest will work from the English feed.
Getting the right team
This should be taken into consideration when inviting speakers to make a presentation at a conference. Always consult with your interpreting agency as to what they can advise and whether certain language combinations can be accomplished.
There are three conventional room layouts:
1. Theatre style: Speakers at the front (on stage or at table) with delegates in rows of chairs facing them.
2. Classroom style: Speakers at a front table with delegates in rows of chairs with their own tables facing the top table.
3. Boardroom style: A round a single table.
1. Allow interpreters direct eye contact with the speakers
Organising conferences are stressful and much of the time very last minute so ensure that plenty of time is given to pass the necessary information to interpreters. The usual reference materials interpreters want are:
o The agenda
On the day of the conference try and put into practice the following tips: