Meetings are important pillars of any growing business. As it prospers and reaches new heights, it onboards people from different cultures and native backgrounds. With the rise of remote work due to last year’s pandemic, this diversity has increased even further.
With the ever-growing diversity, companies have to find ways to conduct their meetings multilingually. Yes, English is an international language and works for the majority of tasks, but not for all of them. Sometimes, a meeting needs to be conducted in multiple languages to accommodate the diversity.
That said, your company will also have to leave its comfort zone and conduct multilingual meetings every once and then. But how do you get ready for one such meeting? Here’s everything you need to know.
This may sound like the most obvious piece of advice, but you need to make as many arrangements as possible beforehand. If you’re new to multilingual meetings and haven’t conducted one before, you may find some nasty surprises during the meetings — and you don’t want that to happen.
Develop a detailed plan for your meeting. Consider setting aside a backup language that everyone can fall back to if something goes wrong. Figure out and rehearse who’s going to lead which parts of the meeting, and with what sequence. Consider assigning roles to members based on their language capabilities.
Communicate your goals
You want to make sure every attendee leaves the room with something new in their head. You don’t want to use vague or complicated terms during a multilingual meeting to ensure everybody understands what you want to achieve through the meeting.
When the meeting starts, talk about the goal of the meeting. Clearly communicate what you want each attendee to learn from this meeting, and force them to ask questions if they’re not understanding what you’re trying to deliver. Prepare a meeting guideline with this strategy in mind.
On-site, simultaneous interpretation is a modern way of approaching multilingual meetings. During simultaneous translation, an interpreter translates the contents of your meeting in real-time.
You need to have some prerequisites to make sure simultaneous translation is set up for your meeting. First and foremost: you need to hire an experienced interpreter. If your meeting is about something industry-specific, make sure you’re hiring an interpreter that knows the terms used in that industry.
Then, you’d need to get the required simultaneous translation equipment and set it up in your meeting room. This equipment will be used by your interpreter to do their job effectively.
Hire and coach your interpreter early on
Experienced interpreters are usually overbooked and you will need to hire them in advance. If you don’t, you may need to pay an extensive fee to book an urgent service.
Depending on the complexity of your meeting, you’d also need to coach your interpreter to make sure they are aware of the terminologies that are going to be used in your meeting. Provide them with a script or outline of the meeting so they can get ready for the occasion.
Reach the meeting room early
No matter how well you have prepared everything, problems love to arise at the last minute. Make sure to reach your meeting room early on and see if everything is up and ready to go.
Test the pieces of equipment to ensure they are all powered up. Ask your interpreters to check their resources and see if everything is okay. Ask your company’s participants to rehearse their part one last time to eliminate the possibility of something going wrong at the last minute.
Multilingual meetings are inevitable when you’re working with a diverse set of employees from various native backgrounds. You can’t just rely on English for every meeting; you’ll eventually have to leave your comfort zone and explore other, localized options.
Preparing for your multilingual meeting beforehand will help you ensure nothing goes wrong. With the tips mentioned above, you can make sure you’re on the right track in setting up your meeting.