So you’re hosting a multilingual conference. You’ve got your venue, your speakers, your attendees, your interpreters, and last, though certainly not least, your audio engineer.
Though you may not know much about this last figure, there are a few things you should keep in mind to help your audio engineer provide the required services with ease and success.
It should be noted that you don’t necessarily have to perform all these steps yourself.
One of the advantages of using a full-spectrum provider of language and conference services is their ability to gather information and make the appropriate arrangements. By supplying some basic information, you can often step back and let your language and conference services provider take care of the relevant details.
1) Schedule Time to Set Up and Test Equipment.
The amount of time you will need before the conference for the audio engineer to set up all of the equipment and make sure it is functioning properly depends on what equipment you will be using at the conference. For instance, if you are using a full interpreting booth, you will need more time to set it up than if you are using a half booth.
The set-up time also depends on how many receivers or headsets you are planning on using at the conference. If you are hosting a conference where 400 attendees will need receivers to listen to an interpreter, you will need to set aside more time to configure and distribute them than if your conference requires just 40 receivers.
At a minimum, plan to have your audio engineer arrive at least 90 minutes before the conference is scheduled to begin. Regardless of how little equipment you may be using, you want enough time for the engineer to test everything and make sure it is working. Leave time to fix audio levels and sound channels before the conference begins instead of scrambling to make adjustments during a presentation.
2) Find Out Where Audio Engineers Can Load in Equipment.
Many conference venues, whether hotels or corporate offices, have rules about where and when you can load equipment into the building. Often, sites will not allow you to bring the equipment through the front door, so be sure to find out if there is a loading dock or alternative entrance prior to the day of the conference and let the audio engineer know of this information in advance.
At some conference venues, the proper entrance to use for loading in equipment may vary depending on the time of day. For instance, you may be able to bring equipment through the main entrance during off-peak hours, but during prime traffic times (say, between 11 a.m. and 5 p.m.) you may be required to use an alternative door.
You also want to make sure that whatever entrance you plan on using is properly equipped for the items to be loaded through it. This may mean ensuring that the doorway’s dimensions are large enough to accommodate the equipment or checking to see if the loading dock has a lift gate to assist in loading it from the truck.
Every site has its own unique facilities and rules, so be sure to check in with facilities management in advance.
3) Determine the Facility’s A/V Capabilities.
Before the conference, it would be wise to speak with an A/V representative (or similar authority) from the conference venue to ensure that your audio engineer is able to provide the required services without a hitch.
In this conversation, you will first want to ensure that there is a way to run a direct line from the conference room’s PA system to the equipment that the audio engineer will be bringing. This will enable the audio of the presenter(s) to be transmitted directly to the interpreting booth so the interpreters can carry out their jobs properly.
You will also want to determine the proper location for the interpreting booth, whether that’s in the back of the conference room or in a separate room altogether. This should ideally be decided well in advance of the audio engineer’s arrival, so that he or she can get right to work setting up and testing the equipment on the day of the conference, helping everything to stay on schedule.
4) Anticipate and Prepare for Potential Issues.
If you give your audio engineer enough time to set up and test the equipment properly, everything should work just fine during the conference — but there is always a chance that a problem will arise.
One of the attendees can’t hear the interpreter through the receiver? Don’t panic. The audio engineer will handle it — and the issue can usually be fixed by simply replacing the battery. But just to be sure, the audio engineer will quickly test the receiver and, on the off chance that it isn’t a matter of a drained battery, he or she can provide a replacement receiver.
Planning a multilingual conference is a lot of work, even without having to worry about the technical aspects of interpreting equipment. Luckily, with the help and services of a professional audio engineer, you won’t have to worry about such things. If you prepare yourself and the facilities for the audio engineer in advance, you should be free on the day of the event to focus on all the other pressing details that go into coordinating a conference.