Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

September 14 2016

Reach for Your Ideal Audience in Multiple Languages

Alyssa Forsyth


Looking to grow your prospects or improve existing customers’ brand experience? A smart strategy is offering content in local languages through interpretation and translation services. Here are five language service tips to keep in mind when making content relevant to your ideal audience:

  1. Provide interpreters with the speech beforehand, when possible. The Business Events industry has many specific terms which may present unique challenges for interpretation. “This could not be more evident than in the medical meetings world where interpreters have to translate highly technical language and terms,” said Bill Reed, Senior Director of Meetings and Community Engagement with the American Society of Hematology and PCMA Board of Directors Chair. One way to ensure specialized knowledge is correctly conveyed to the audience, is by providing interpreters with copies of speeches/presentations in advance. This will afford interpreters the opportunity to ask clarifying questions about terms which do not easily translate across languages.

    Learn more about interpretation here

  2. Don’t forget the images. Photo tags and captions help viewers easily understand the details of what is being conveyed within a given image. Oftentimes, text accompanying images is brief, and packed with meaning. Keep in mind that not every term may be translatable and some languages, may require captions twice as long as their English counterparts!

  3. Translate the most visible webpages first. Oftentimes, successful marketing across cultures requires respect of linguistic and cultural identities. Spending time to fine-tune your marketing messages to a local context may help you unlock new markets or strengthen your brand in existing ones. One of the quickest ways to do this is to translate the documents or webpages that are most visible to users. This includes mobile content too! Mobile content is increasingly sought after by consumers across all markets. According to a recent Skift special report on global translation, consumers in the Asia-Pacific market are almost exclusively on mobile devices.

  4. Avoid literal translations. Translation costs can quickly escalate, which is one reason some organizations elect to translate some information in-house, by speakers whom are not fluent in the source language.However, it is important to keep in mind that words cannot be taken out of one language and dropped into another. For example, coffee in English and café in Spanish mean entirely different things in the U.S. and Latin America. Coffee in the U.S. has a functional meaning (i.e., consumers need the caffeine to function) whereas café in Latin America signals a more social meaning. Thus, while automatic machine translation, such as Google Translate, are excellent tools for translating a word or two, these sources should be avoided for lengthy translation projects.
  5. Take mistranslations in stride. Interpreting is challenging. Not only do professional interpreters have to translate words, but they must also pay attention to things like context, innuendo, and body language. Written translations on the web also present a unique set of challenges; especially because cultural differences still abound. Why? Because webpage visitors use the web in different ways. While some viewers seek information or facts on your website, others may want to use the space for more social aims. Overall, if and when mistranslations take place, just remember: the show must go on. Not every attendee will enjoy every interpreter, but many will appreciate him/her.

Feel as though we missed an important tip? Share your valuable insights on reaching multilingual audiences and keep the conversation going by vising PCMA’s Catalyst community today!

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