Brand, enterprises, and industry giants utilise offline events to network, make announcements, recognise and reward achievers, and hold insightful discussions. However, this year they’re facing a unique challenge. The COVID19 social distancing rules mandated by various administrative bodies prevent organisers from holding such events. Virtual calls and meeting software have provided them with an alternative.
Since offline events have geographical restrictions, only a select group of people can attend them. With the shift to virtual platforms, these events are open to a broad, diverse audience that comes from different places and speaks different languages. So, accessibility of your virtual events becomes crucial. If you wish to hold a successful virtual event during these times, you must take specific steps to ensure that you have made it as easy as possible for them to participate.
For instance, you can tell from your RSVP list that people from various parts of Canada are interested in attending your event. Since French is one of Canada’s official languages, many people will likely be native French speakers. If your entire event is in English, the language barrier might discourage them or prevent them from participating in the event actively. Employing language services for your virtual event will help you provide them with a good experience.
Remote conference interpretation is a good option for virtual webinars and discussions where content cannot be prepared beforehand. In the case of virtual conferences and presentations, speakers have their content ready ahead. Adding subtitles to prepared content or pre-recorded content will help you in various ways. Let’s find out.
Conquering language barriers with subtitles
As cliché as this sounds, language barriers can affect the level of participation of your viewers and, in some cases, the effectiveness of your speakers. If you have hosted virtual events before, there’s a high chance that you have a multilingual audience. For instance, more than 35 million adults in the USA are ESL (English as a Second Languages) speakers – in other words, their native language is not English. Attending a virtual event in English can prevent them from understanding the topic correctly or following the panellists’ discussion.
Hosts tend to choose speakers as per their ability to communicate well in English. Consequently, certain speakers who might have in-depth knowledge about the event’s topic but don’t possess good spoken English skills don’t get an opportunity to speak very often.
Adding subtitles can solve both these issues. Some virtual event platforms or software let you add a variable at the beginning of the event, which helps the participants choose a language preference. As per their choice, the platform or software shows them the subtitles for their language.
Accessibility for Deaf or Hard of Hearing (DHH) participants
When it comes to any content available on the internet today, accessibility is essential. The ease with which any person with an internet connection and a device can read, view, or listen to your content determines whether your content is accessible. Not allowing people to consume the content in their language is one aspect of accessibility. Another aspect is not allowing people with hearing loss or disability to consume your content.
Various administrative bodies worldwide have passed laws and regulations to help the deaf or hard-of-hearing (DHH) gain equal access to content, including the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the UK’s Communications Act 2003. However, they still haven’t been able to regulate online content.
Around 15% of American adults aged 18 or above have reported having some trouble with hearing. Adding multilingual subtitles to your event will help you promote it to your DHH participants. Making your events accessible positions you or your brand as ‘inclusive’ as your content is available for anyone to consume – irrespective of their native language or other limitations.
Getting ahead of tech glitches & background noise
Whether a virtual event is conducted smoothly depends on a lot of things – internet connection, picture or video quality, sound quality, the speakers’ surroundings, etc. In other words, everything that can go wrong will go wrong. As a thumb rule, you must ensure that you’re prepared for such issues.
While you can instruct your speakers to ensure their set-up is in a quiet room (with no background noise), they can’t control all the elements. If there is any background noise, viewers might not be able to hear the speaker clearly. This is where subtitles do a great job of keeping viewers from losing interest. Similarly, if a viewer is watching an event where there is a lot of noise, they can choose to turn the sound off and follow the discussion with the subtitles.
Pre-recorded videos with subtitles are a great idea, too. In case the speaker’s internet connection doesn’t work well during the event, the host can play their pre-recorded video. This gives them enough time to resolve the internet issue and not waste their viewers’ time.
Promoting the event after it’s over
Recording the entire event and sharing it is a good idea for two reasons. If there are some people interested in attending your event but weren’t unable to register, they would have a second chance of watching the event. Two, some of the registered participants might have missed some segments due to a bad internet connection or for any other reason. They could watch it again.
Uploading the recorded event on one of your website’s landing pages will help you bring traffic to the page – even after the event is over. On the other hand, adding multilingual subtitles will help you increase your SEO ranking. When you upload the subtitles to your video, the search engines crawl the files like they do with other text (video’s text, description, etc.). This not only adds to your keyword density and keyword diversity but also enables your website to rank for keywords in various languages (read: local SEO).
Holding events virtually is a great way to market yourself and your brand to an international audience. However, the way you produce and present your content to your audience will determine whether you are ready to go global.