Why Corporations Demand Multilingual Meetings

AI-powered interpretation platform Wordly released a new report on corporate usage of multilingual interpretation for events. Over 200 U.S and UK-based corporate planners responded to the survey, all working for companies with over 500 staff in either marketing or sales roles.

According to the report, six or more languages are spoken at 60 percent of corporate meetings and events with 11 or more languages spoken at nearly a quarter (23 percent) of company gatherings.

Use of Interpretation

The report indicates that U.S and UK companies are increasing their use of interpretation suggesting this is due to an increase in attendees for whom English is not their primary language. In total 77 percent of respondents confirmed their intention to increase their use of interpretation this year and 72 percent expect this trend to continue next year.

This can arguably be seen as an impact of current trends for remote work and the ever increasing global talent pool available to companies embracing remote workforces. The Covid pandemic-driven increase in virtual events and online meetings may also play a part in the increased demand for interpretation service.

While the vast majority of respondents (95 percent) have used translation and interpretation services at some of their events, only a third reported regularly offering interpretation and 30 percent do not typically offer interpretation at all.

When split by event format, hybrid events do not seem to commonly include interpretation. It is most commonly offered for in-person events (79 percent), followed by virtual (61 percent) and hybrid (47 percent). The reason for this may be linked to the complexities of hybrid event production.

Limited Experience

Experience with using interpretation services is limited, with only 58 percent considering themselves to have significant experience working with interpretation. More respondents working in marketing roles (64 percent) considered themselves experienced compared to those in sales roles (48 percent).

Complexity was a central theme when respondents were questioned about their reasons to not use interpretation. The challenges around scheduling interpreters and setting up equipment were both mentioned by around 40 percent of respondents. A similar number of people (37 percent) mentioned too many languages to support and 40 percent believed that non-English speaking attendees would adapt or elect not to attend. Cost and reliability of services seemed to be less in focus with only 26 percent and 23 percent of respondents mentioned them respectively.

Technology Solutions

AI-powered technology solutions, such as that offered by Wordly, differ from human powered interpretation that can be done in-person or remotely. When asked about specifically using technology-powered solutions there is a clear desire for uncomplicated solutions. Sixty-three of respondents pointed to ease-of-use as their top priority, followed by the ability to support all attendee languages (56 percent) and audio and caption outputs (48 percent).

There was also more desire for technology solutions from the U.S.-based respondents, compared to their UK counterparts. Equally more senior executives and those working for parent companies operating in tech showed greater desire to implement technology solutions.