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Monthly Archives: September 2016

What Technology Doesn’t Do at Events

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 27, 2016

With the rise in event apps, IP telephony, webcasts, and virtual presence, it is easy to forecast that the future of events will be centred on virtual reality. In fact, if you ask many professional speakers, they will tell you that they can foresee virtual appearances becoming the new normal in their industry. But might we be in danger of overestimating precisely what technology can do or, more to the point, might we be underestimating what real presence means?

 

Virtual Conferences Already Exist

 

Take a simple example, if you are a translator or interpreter, you will have heard of Proz.com. This mega platform regularly holds virtual conference, complete with free webinars, virtual stands and even virtual chat.

 

But, as an attendee, you quickly see that something is missing. At a real conference, many of the best moments arrive unplanned. A trip from the coffee station to the toilet can lead to a conversation with a key future client. A wander in the area around the venue can mean bumping into that person you have been trying to contact by email for weeks.

 

That doesn’t happen virtually. At a virtual conference, everything is controlled and deliberate. In fact, it runs precisely the way that some people try to act at conferences. Every booth visit is for a particular purpose and is timed to the second, every webinar runs exactly to time. Every interaction is scripted and rich in information but low in relationship.

 

At a virtual conference, the currency is information. At an in-person conference, the currency is relationships.

 

But In-person Conferences are Still Growing

 

When virtual conferences exist and save a fortune on air fares, it makes you wonder why the same organisation is now turning to in-person conferences, even ramping up the number it runs. If you are an events professional trying to read future trends, the answer is absolutely vital.

 

In an increasingly virtual and remote world, human contact is what justifies the fees and hassle. No matter how well your conference is run, the accidental moments will often be the ones that are remembered the best. When presenters go off-script, they often sound better and connect better. When people are free to interact on their terms, the quality of the interaction is better.

 

Perhaps the reason for the continued rise in in-person conference is precisely the yearning for real human contact and the freedom from communication mediated by technology.

 

At Multilingual Events, Presence is Everything

 

Applying this same principle to multingual or international events means that we can see why any moves towards taking the service providers away from the conference hall will be problematic. Is it as pleasant to order your drinks at a vending machine as it is to have a real human waiter? Is automated registration as nice as picking up your badge from a smiling person at a desk?

 

If we answer those two questions truthfully, we will realise the biggest drawback with virtualising interpreting services too. While interpreters work with language, they work in a business that is centred on people: what people are trying to achieve, who is listening and how people are reacting.

 

While it is often cheaper to try to get interpreters to work remotely, it rarely leads to a flawless conference. Here again, while the technology is fascinating and just about stable enough, it loses much of the human contact that is found in the conference room

 

The Future?

 

So, the next time someone tells you that the future of events is entirely virtual, take them out for a coffee and ask them to compare that with an exchange of emails. Event technology is here to stay but its future is found in enhancing real-world interactions, rather than replacing them.

When You Should Ignore Marketing Experts

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 8, 2016

We all know that, in general, language professionals are behind the curve when it comes to marketing. CRM is an entirely new concept for most translators and interpreters and the most popular CPD courses are those that aim to enhance business and sales skills. It makes sense that we should learn from professionals whose lives are spent marketing and selling. But are there times when their ideas should be ignored?

 

There is one place when that is definitely the case.

 

Marketing Tactics Translators and Interpreters Should Not Use

Marketing gurus will commonly tell you that you need to grow your list of client contacts. That much is absolutely true. Few people will go straight from website visitor to client. Having periodic emails to keep your name and email fresh in people’s memory is a great idea if you want people to book you.

 

While gathering email contacts is important, some of the tactics used to gather those emails are definitely not to be recommended. Go to the website of any leading marketer and you will likely be confronted with a pop-over window asking you to sign-up for updates. The most annoying part is that often you can’t actually read anything on their page unless you manage to locate that pesky close button.

 

While that tactic has always been sneaky and downright annoying, it will soon be an SEO nightmare as google are going to actively punish sites that use those tactics.

 

Let Users See Content Quickly

From a user standpoint, those changes are long overdue. Personally, I have started to simply leave any website that asks for my email before it has given me a reason to stay. Let me see the content first and then, if the content looks good, I might sign up.

 

Of course, if you are giving away something substantial like an entire book, then things are different. It makes sense, in that case, to give a sample for free and then swap details for the full thing. Even here, however, you are better to create a specialist landing page than have an ugly floating pop-up. For single blog posts, let people read first and subscribe later.

 

Google’s changes are even good from a marketing perspective. Do we really want email addresses from people who are only typing them to get rid of a stupid window?

 

So, the next time you refresh your website, remember to let people get to content as quickly as possible. The more directly we communicate with clients, the more likely that are to want to work with us.

News: Edinburgh Conference Interpreter Scoops Three International Awards!

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 7, 2016

I am incredibly honoured and privileged to have won three (!) awards at this year’s Proz.com Community Choice Awards.

 

These annual awards are nominated and voted by members of the ProZ.com community, the world’s largest community for the Translation and Interpreting industries, with over 300,000 members worldwide.

 

This year, I was amazed to win three awards in the “Interpreting” section. These are:

 

Best Twitter (for my @integlangsbiz account)

Best Book for: Being a Successful Interpreter: Adding Value and Delivering Excellence (Routledge, 2016)

and

Best Conference Speaker.

 

The past twelve months have been momentous for me both as a conference interpreter and as a researcher. Since this time in 2015, in those two areas alone, I have:

 

 

Needless to say, none of this could have happened without the support of clients, friends, family (including our eight month old, newest arrival), supervisors and colleagues. The world of conference interpreting and interpreting in general is an incredibly supportive one and it is my pleasure and honour to be part of it.

5 Signs You Hired a Conference Interpreter from Edinburgh

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 6, 2016

Edinburgh

 

If you have worked with interpreters a few times, you will realise that each one is slightly different. Want to know if your interpreters might have spent a lot of their career in Edinburgh? Here’s how you can tell.

 

1. They can predict when the words “haggis” and “whisky” will be mentioned.

After a few years on the Scottish conference circuit, it becomes really easy for conference interpreters to predict the contents of any introductory speech. There is, apparently, an iron law that says that you must mention two of Scotland’s most famous products within five minutes of starting any event. Maybe it’s to do with the fact that so many people associate those products with Scotland (even though the nation has invented so much else); maybe its because speakers easily fall into reusing old clichés. Whatever it is, it makes interpreting just that bit more predictable.

 

2. Accents? No problem.

By the time they have managed to interpret Aberdonian, Glaswegian, West Highlands and, of course, Geordie, no accent at any event ever scares an Edinburgh conference interpreter. It doesn’t matter whether their target language is French, Spanish or Chinese, they can deal with whichever speaker comes up.

 

3. They have been to all the best hotels in their home city but never stayed overnight.

For clients, the bonus of using a local interpreter is that you don’t need to pay for accommodation. For interpreters, the strange side-effect is that you might never get to find out whether the hotel actually has any rooms that don’t contain a digital projector, a fully quipped PA system and at least four soundproof interpreting booths.

 

4. They have interpreted in the rain.

Even if they leave for another market within a few years, ask any conference interpreter who has been on the Edinburgh market and they will be able to tell you stories of interpreting outdoors, in the rain. Is it just a quirk of Scottish weather? Is it a mark of how hardy they are? It could be both but that experience will mean that interpreters from Edinburgh know how to go the extra mile for clients (and where to find a smart rainproof coat … and a pharmacist that sells cold medicine).

 

5. Within five minutes of arriving anywhere, they become a walking public transport encyclopaedia.

Given that almost all of Edinburgh can be reached within two buses, Edinburgh conference interpreters soon get their heads around any public transport system you care to mention. When you live in a city with a 24 hour-a-day GPS-tracked bus service, plotting journeys becomes second nature and you expect to be able to do the same everywhere you go. Want to know how to get to your nearest airport at 4am, while carrying a large suitcase? Ask your nearest interpreter from Edinburgh.

 

 

They are hardy, they are friendly and they get to know new cities within a few hours. They are conference interpreters from Edinburgh. No matter which part of Scotland your next event might visit, if you are looking for interpreters, contact me and let’s create an impactful event together.

Translator or interpreter: Which One Does your Event Need?

By: Jonathan Downie    Date: September 2, 2016

You know your next international event is going to be an extravaganza. You know there will be delegates from several countries at the event, all wanting to hear the proceedings in their language. They might even want the event guide in their language too. So, do you need to hire conference interpreters or translators and what difference does it make anyway?

 

Here is your simple guide.

 

If you need people to hear the conference speeches or product presentations in their language or if there are deaf people who will need to see what is going on in a Sign Language, you need interpreters.

 

If there are signs, guides, websites, or paperwork that needs to be available in other languages, you need translators.

 

It’s that simple, really.

 

After that, if you need interpreters, you have decisions to make. For big events and conference, with interpreting into more than one language, you really can’t do without professional simultaneous interpreting equipment. This means soundproof booths, headsets, mics, etc. A good interpreting equipment supplier will know exactly what you need and will be able to integrate cleanly with whatever audiovisual setup is already there.

 

For small events, or when there are only two or three delegates there who need interpreting into a single language, you might be able to use whispered interpreting. However, the problem with this is that it inevitably causes some disruption to the people nearby and, due to the inevitable restriction in the volume the interpreters can use, it is not likely to be as immersive as simultaneous interpreting.

 

For some events, like after dinner talks or events where interpreting is needed into a single language and you want to showcase it, you can use different forms of consecutive interpreting. Some speaker, for example, find that working with an interpreter next to them on the stage gives another dynamic to their performance. Other times, it makes more sense for the speaker to deliver the entire speech and then for the interpreter to give an interpreted version,

 

Whatever the event, a good consultant interpreter or experienced interpreting agency will be able to recommend the best setup to achieve your aims. And, with more and more interpreters and interpreting agencies having solid contacts in the translation industry, they might be able to recommend translators too, so that all your communications with your delegates are smooth and effective.