How has your professional life changed as a result of the novel coronavirus? The dramatic impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on the business community around the globe has caused companies across a wide range of sectors to have to reposition the services that they offer.
Are you one of the many people who have moved to delivering online services instead of face-to-face ones? If so, you are far from alone. We are video calling, video conferencing, training online, holding parties online… anything and everything that used to be done in person has now moved onto the web.
For many businesses, this has meant holding webinars for the first time, including webinars targeted at multilingual audiences. Is this something you have experimented with yet? If not, read on to discover all you need to know about webinars and how to use them to connect with multilingual audiences.
If you’re wondering exactly what a webinar is, the clue is in the name – it’s formed from the words ‘web’ and ‘seminar.’ A webinar is a video session, usually hosted by a business, that delivers a seminar, lecture, workshop, presentation or similar event designed to engage a large audience. It is usually led by one single speaker, or at most by a small group of speakers.
Webinars are not meetings in the traditional sense, but they do allow those watching to engage with the presenters, often through live polls or by submitting questions.
Companies arrange webinars for numerous purposes. Often, the goal is to share information, updates and insights with a wide audience. This serves the dual purpose of educating the audience while also building up the company’s reputation and authority. Topics can be anything that serves a business purpose, from introducing new service features to demonstrating how a product works.
Webinars are also a powerful marketing tool, with the right format and topic capable of generating superb levels of engagement. This means that many companies use them as part of their brand building strategy. As they are hosted online, webinars are not limited to connecting with an audience in a single geographic region. Instead, they have the capability to engage viewers around the globe.
A webinar consists of several elements. There is a stream for audio, so that the audience can hear the speaker(s). Then there is a video stream that shows the audience the speaker or the slides about which they are talking. Modern webinar software also allows for an integrated social media feed to promote easy real-time engagement. Polls and questions further add to the ability to actively engage viewers.
Are you wondering how to host a webinar? Dedicated webinar platforms that deliver all of this and more are widely available. As such, it’s well worth investigating the options available to you to find out which best meets your needs (see below for more on finding the right webinar platform).
The other thing you will need to do is practice. Webinars aren’t just about having the right technology. They are also about delivering content that inspires those watching to engage in the appropriate way. If you’re not comfortable in front of the camera, it’s time to get comfortable – and fast! Play around with recordings of yourself and experiment with the pace of your delivery and your tone until you’re happy that you’re delivering a professional quality presentation. Remember, this is your chance to build a relationship with your audience, so you need to deliver a smooth, confident performance whether you’re on camera or simply providing the webinar’s audio element.
A webinar, as we’ve discussed above, is an online event that allows those watching to engage in ways predetermined by the company presenting it. So, what is a webcast? And what is a web conference?
Just as with a webinar, the clue is in the name when it comes to webcasts. A webcast is essential a web broadcast. It’s a presentation that is shared over the internet using streaming media to a (potentially) global audience. The key difference between a webcast and a webinar is that the webcast doesn’t offer any interactive elements – the audience simply watches it. As such, webcasts can be watched on demand as well as live.
A web conference, meanwhile, is an umbrella term that incorporates both webinars and webcasts, as well as online video conference meetings. Web conferencing was already used widely around the world before the COVID-19 outbreak and has been used even more since the pandemic. Many companies have tried it out of necessity but at least some of those are likely to stick with their new web conferencing capabilities even after the pandemic has passed, once they appreciate the ease with which it can be done and the benefits that it offers.
As with everything business related, having the right tools for the job is essential. Whether you want to host a simple conference call or a web conference, you need the right software. Webinar and webcast software options abound, so you have plenty of choice.
The webinar platform that you choose will need to take a number of considerations into account. Budget, of course, is likely to be a key driver of your decision, but it won’t be the only factor.
First, think about how many attendees you are likely to have. This is likely to have a big impact on the price of the service that you use. You also need to think about who those attendees will be and how best to serve them. Will they need a webinar platform that’s designed for mobile or one that prioritises ease of use?
Next, consider the features that you need your webinar software to offer. Will it allow you to poll viewers easily? To live chat with them? To deliver question and answer functionality? And how does it sync with social media?
Be clear on the features that you need now, as well as considering others that you are likely to need for future web conferencing. That includes the ability to bring in speakers at other locations. If guest speakers need to join, be sure that the platform you use makes this easy to achieve.
It’s also important to double check that you can record your webinar for the benefit of those viewers who aren’t able to watch it live. Most webinar platforms offer this functionality as standard, but don’t make any assumptions!
Finally, think about the bigger picture. Will your webinar software allow you to promote your event quickly and easily on social media? Or through your CRM for email marketing purposes? For those delivering webinars to multilingual audiences, it’s also worth scoping out how integration with foreign social media accounts will work, or even if it will work at all. Ask all of these questions and more to ensure that you get the right webinar platform to meet your particular needs.
If you’re new to webinars, then the idea of integrating conference interpreting on a webinar platform may seem rather daunting. However, don’t be put off – integrating the services of professional interpreters is just another step in the webinar creation process and there are plenty of tutorials on how to enable interpretation on Zoom and other platforms. And if you’re new to the topic of conference call interpretation too, you can find out more about that by clicking the link below.
Integrating interpretation services into your webinar means ensuring that you have the right language professionals available as part of your project and that the software you are using allows for them to be involved in the process with ease.
Different platforms handle the integration of interpreters in slightly different ways. Ideally, you want a platform that makes it easy both for the interpreters to join and for the viewers to select the right audio language. Zoom, for example, allows the webinar host to start the interpretation feature when they start the webinar. Each interpreter has access to their own audio channel in order to provide the interpretation for that particular language. From the attendees’ perspective, it’s simply a matter of choosing which audio channel they want to hear. There’s also an option to hear the original audio at lower volume, should they wish.
Read more: Phone Interpreters: Remote Interpretation in the Time of Pandemics
Start by deciding your language offering first of all. Will you need a French interpreter? A Korean interpreter? A Chinese interpreter? Analyse which parts of the world are most important for your business to connect with and which languages are spoken there. You can then start to shape a multilingual webinar strategy based on those particular languages.
You also need to consider the kind of interpretation that you need. Presumably, for a webinar, it will be simultaneous interpretation that you require, but be sure to make your needs clear from the outset, both when planning your own strategy and when selecting your webinar platform. For more on the different types of interpretation services that are available, click on the link below.
Read more: What Are the Different Types of Interpretation?
When you’ve put the effort into creating a high-quality webinar, you certainly don’t want to be let down by your interpreters when it comes to delivering it in other languages. That’s why it’s essential to find the right interpretation services to meet your needs.
Finding the perfect interpreter isn’t just a question of language. Yes, if you need to deliver your webinar in Spanish then you need a Spanish interpreter. But you also need someone with relevant subject matter expertise.
This is where using a professional translation and interpretation agency can deliver plentiful benefits. A company with a large network of language professionals at its disposal should be able to make short work of matching your business sector to its interpreters’ experience. That means you can find language experts who are familiar with your company terminology fairly easily, and this can make a major difference when it comes to the quality of your webinar interpretation.
Of course, once you have a translation and interpretation company on board, then you have additional language options available to you. One is to translate your webinar for distribution as a video – turning it into a webcast, in essence. This means that you’re not limited to distributing it in only the languages you used during the live webinar, but in any language that your video translation services cover.
Delivering your webinar in multiple languages in this way does much to boost the return on your investment. Creating a webinar comes with not only a financial cost but also a cost in terms of time and focus. As such, the more value you can get out of it, the better, and translation services can play a key role in this.
Webinars are powerful tools when it comes to establishing your brand’s position and reputation. They can allow you to showcase your products and your expertise and to build up long-term, meaningful relationships with your customers. Webinars also provide you with the potential to access a global customer base by integrating live, simultaneous interpretation services and then later using video translation to make the broadcast more widely available.
The COVID-19 pandemic won’t last forever, but it is likely to have forever changed the way that we work and connect. Webinars are no longer only used by digital marketing specialists and huge multinational conglomerates. They have become a tool for businesses of all shapes and sizes to use in order to stay connected with their customer base. It’s an advantage that savvy companies are unlikely to give up too easily.
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