How to turn your face-to-face event into a virtual or hybrid event with interpretation

 | Interpretation best practices

Lockdowns and restrictions on travel have prompted us to switch to virtual meeting formats. But beware: turning a physical event into a virtual or hybrid one is not a trivial undertaking. Especially if it’s a multilingual conference with simultaneous interpretation.

Hybrid event with interpretation

Event for the European College of Financial Investigation and Criminal Financial Analysis (CEIFAC) held in a hybrid format with interpretation


First you will need to decide on the virtual environment in which to hold your event: will you opt for a mainstream videoconferencing platform such as Zoom, which offers the advantage of familiarity and supports interpretation, or will you use a dedicated Simultaneous Interpreting Delivery Platform (SIDP), which offers more sophisticated functionality for the interpreters? Your Calliope consultant interpreter  will be able to offer advice on the best solution for your particular event.


Whichever technology you choose, there is no escaping the widely recognised phenomenon of “Zoom fatigue”. A full-day programme which might have worked for a face-to-face meeting will need reorganising for a virtual or hybrid event. Surveys show that during virtual events people’s attention span dwindles after around two hours, so try to keep your sessions to no longer than that. Allow 20 to 30-minute breaks between sessions: they will be appreciated by participants and interpreters alike.

Where to site your team of interpreters

For hybrid meetings, it is preferable for the interpreters to be located with the on-site participants and event technicians. For fully virtual meetings, the interpreters can either be co-located with a technician in a hub or work from their home studios. Hubs reduce the risk of technical problems and enable the interpreters to work as a team. However, for shorter meetings or meetings where the mix of languages makes it challenging to assemble a full team of interpreters at a hub it may be appropriate for the interpreters to work from their home studios. Other factors may also come into play. Your Calliope consultant will be able to advise on the most appropriate arrangement for your event.

Lead time

Virtual – and especially hybrid – events are actually far more complex to organise than fully face-to-face events, particularly if they are large scale and involve several parallel sessions. IAPCO recommends that decisions on platform and programme should be made at least two months before the event date.

Preparing your speakers

Whether your meeting is hybrid or fully virtual, it is vital to ensure that speakers who will be participating from a remote location are properly equipped to ensure optimal sound quality. Speakers must use an ethernet cable rather than Wifi, and either a headset with integrated microphone or an external desktop microphone rather than their built-in computer microphone. They should keep their video on when speaking. Your Calliope consultant interpreter can provide you with Tips for Speakers and advise on how to optimise speakers’ audio quality.

Interpreters’ training and technical tests

Bear in mind that the interpreters may not be familiar with your chosen platform. If necessary, your consultant interpreter will organise training sessions for them.


If you wish to record your event for subsequent posting on YouTube or on your website, copyright considerations may arise. Please discuss this with your consultant interpreter.


As with a face-to-face event, it is important to supply speakers, attendees and interpreters with clear instructions and the programme as soon as possible. Be sure to provide your interpreters with all the necessary documentation to enable them to prepare the subject-matter of your event, including agendas, PowerPoint presentations, concept notes and speeches. If you are playing pre-recorded videos it is essential that they are provided to the interpreters in advance, if possible with the transcript.

Calliope’s consultant interpreters can provide advice on the format, platform and programme for your meeting. Contact us to ensure that your virtual or hybrid event is a success.


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