Over the last nine months at KUDO, we have identified some key best practices for hosting successful online meetings. These aren’t technical considerations, like what kind of headset to use or how to position your camera. We’ve covered these in another blog post.
We encourage you to read it. What we’re talking about here are simple but powerful things you can do to ensure smooth communication when you meet online in multiple languages using simultaneous interpretation. Put these tips into practice and your meeting is bound to go smoothly.
When Hosting or Moderating a Multilingual Meeting
At the beginning of the meeting, share a slide on screen with simple instructions about how to select your preferred language. The slide should be translated into every language spoken in the meeting to inform participants which languages will be available and how to listen to them.
Explain the key features of the KUDO interface. You will likely have first-time attendees. So, take a minute to explain the basic functions of the platform like requesting to speak, using the language selector, chat, screen share, and polling functions. This helps set participants at ease and allows them to participate with confidence in the meeting.
Use Verbal Cues. On a web conference, silence can be disconcerting, and what is obvious to you may not be for others. If you are moderating a meeting, explain out loud what you are doing so that participants always know what is going on. For example, you might say, “I see there are some requests to speak. I’ll approve those now.” Or, “I’m going to launch a poll, so you should see your Polls button highlighted momentarily.” These simple explanations of what you are doing as the host provide context to the meeting participants and helps everyone know what is going on.
When Speaking or Presenting during a Multilingual Meeting
Speak clearly and at a moderate pace. Take time to emphasize the important points you wish to share. It is all about communication! Remember, it’s easy for participants in an online meeting to become distracted, especially when a speaker reads a presentation quickly, word for word with no intonation or feeling. What is more, it makes the interpreter’s job very difficult, which can make it harder for those listening in other languages to understand your message.
If you are fluent in more than one language, refrain from jumping from one language to another mid-sentence. If you have to do it, it is best to announce when you are going to switch. Just say, “I’m going to switch to language X (Spanish, French, Chinese, etc.) now.”
Why does this matter? Important details may be lost when a speaker suddenly switches languages unannounced. If people don’t understand the language you are going to speak, they’ll need to adjust the language selector to a language they do understand and that takes a second or two. Interpreters will also need to adjust a setting on their console and then start interpreting in the opposite direction, and that takes a couple of seconds.
Take turns speaking and avoid talking over one another. We’ve written an entire blog post about protocol for online professional meetings and why taking turns is important, so important it bears repeating here. So, if you haven’t yet, be sure to give it a read. Interpreters are trained professionals but they can’t interpret more than one person at a time. This is obvious when you think about it but easy to forget during an important online meeting.
These six simple tips are based on tens of thousands of hours of multilingual meetings hosted on KUDO. Use them, and they will help you conduct your multilingual web meetings like a pro. As the saying goes, take care of the little things and the big things will take care of themselves.