Hosting a successful webinar can be challenging, but when the webinar attendees speak different languages, it can be overwhelming. Fortunately, there are some basic steps you can follow in order to make sure your multilingual webinar runs smoothly.

Choose the right webinar software

The vast majority of web conferencing software options are available only in English, so you’ll need to find a product that offers a version in the language(s) of your enrollees. It may be possible for the software manufacturer to create a version of the product in the target language you need, but be forewarned that can be very expensive and not advisable unless you can be certain that the end product will be of the highest quality possible. Once you have a version of your web conferencing software in the needed language(s), be sure you have it reviewed by someone fluent. All items should appear in the target language, including prompts, commands, registration pages, help text, popups, etc. The translation should be top notch. Nothing is worse – or more offensive to webinar attendees – than a poorly translated version of the software. And make sure that any associated materials provided by the webinar software vendor are also clearly translated, such as reminder emails sent out to registrants prior to the event, for example.

Prepare your visual and audio materials for the target audience

Prepare your visual and audio materials for the target audience. If your presenters plan to use slides, make sure they’re available in all target languages. Ideally, each attendee should be able to view the slides in the language they speak. If that’s not possible, then different slides in different languages will have to be shown to all attendees. The same holds true for audio materials: a separate audio track for each different language is ideal. And if your webinar involves attendee participation, you may need to have interpreters and/or translators on hand to facilitate back-and-forth communication, which might include either audio communication and/or live chat sessions. Ask your vendor if integrated phone and streaming audio interpretations are available. If not, you’ll have to find a workaround.

Practice with your presenters to make sure they are prepared for a multilingual audience

Practice with your presenters to make sure they are prepared for a multilingual audience. This means moving at an appropriate pace; one that allows for translation and/or interpretation to take place before moving on to the next point or topic. Advise your presenters against using popular jargon or colloquialisms since these often don’t translate well. Prior to the start of the webinar, do a “dress rehearsal” with your presenters and an audience of one or more speakers of the target language to make sure the content is clear and the pace is adequate. Practice all aspects of the webinar, making sure to include all visual and audio materials that are planned to be used, as well as phone-in participation by attendees and/or online chat sessions. Try to practice and plan for every aspect of the webinar in advance, so that you can iron out the rough spots and know how to handle whatever situation should arise during the event.

No matter which webinar software product you choose, you’ll undoubtedly need the help of professional translators and interpreters in order to successfully conduct a multilingual webinar. These linguists can assist in virtually every step along with way – from planning of visual and audio materials, to the dress rehearsal prior to the webinar to facilitating back-and-forth communication with attendees during the actual event, etc. Finding the right interpreters and translators for your webinar can be difficult if you don’t have help, but fortunately you do. The best way to secure high quality translation and interpreting services is by contacting a reputable translation company; one that can match your needs with experienced, professional linguists.