Podcast
Episode
10

Interprefy’s Oddmund Braaten & Richard Schiller on multilingual events

In this episode, we hear Bharath Varma (CEO and Co-founder, Zuddl), in conversation with Oddmund Braaten (CEO, Interprefy) and Richard Schiller, (Senior Product Manager, Interprefy). 

They cover everything from the importance of multilingual events to engagement and current tech stacks that efficiently run a smooth event!

One of our favourite lines from the podcast is, "By using multilingual capabilities, you can reach more people and gain a deeper understanding not only in the selling process but in the education process as well." 

Episode Highlights

Touching on inclusivity in any event format
Connectivity beyond borders
Delivering content in different ways
Multiple outputs with a single piece of content

 Kishore  

Welcome to Backstage with Zuddl. I'm your host Kishore from Zuddl's very own marketing team. And this is a podcast where we share eventful stories from thought leaders across industries, to give you epic insights into the world of events and beyond. Hello, hello, welcome back to backstage with Zuddl. Now, if you've been tuned in with the world, and what society is trying to address these days, you will know that inclusivity is a very major aspect. It's very important not just for companies, but for our communities at large. So we thought it'd be great to have a webinar on this. And that's just what we did. So our CEO and co founder parrot Verma, as you all know, gone to a conversation with the CEO of Intel provide augmented Brighton, and their senior product manager, Richard Shearer, and the three of them gave us great insights into how to run multilingual events, what are the tools available, and how to be inclusive by example. So without further ado, let's dive into the chat.

 

Bharath Varma  

Welcome, Oddmund and Richard, nice to have you here.

 

Oddmund Braaten 

Thank you. Nice to be here.

 

Bharath Varma 

Great. So, yeah, so to to quickly, kick start this session. Yeah, just to like, lay the topic out there. Right. So as in personally, what I think about this is, like, over the last 510 years, this has been a place this has been a lot of education around the need for, for people to be inclusive, and how important is in the world that we exist in? And? And yeah, there's just been a lot of globalisation, right, like, a lot of boundaries have been broken. With the wide adoption of internet and yeah, and you can pretty much be staying out of one country and selling it to the, and selling it pretty much to the entire world. Right. And yeah, and I think we've kind of managed to dissolve boundaries. So yeah, so I guess it's about like, how do you kind of take it to the next level? Right. So and yeah, in a time where events like, you know, with virtual, especially the virtual events and how they've kind of managed to dissolve boundaries, you know, the case for a more diverse inclusion, inclusive approach to communication has become so much more important than it has ever been. And yeah, if b2b marketers want truly enter new markets and expand their business reach, it is very important for them to take the benefits of running these multilingual events, right, so they can kind of target different regions across the globe. So yeah, in this webinar, we'll be exploring how technology plays a big role in enabling this b2b marketers to craft impactful multilingual events that not only help them creatively bleeds, but also drive value for their attendees. So any quick thoughts before we dive into the sessions?

 

Oddmund Braaten 

No, I think you're putting it on the point is globalisation. And I've been in this business now, as for seven years with interpreting and in we forget, because we are in the technology business that most of us speak English, but basically, it's only 17% of the world's population that has English as the language and so when we want to reach the whole world, and as marketeers I think that's the key and how we can do that in an inefficient way. And, and also meeting the people were they, in their own language. I mean, that's our purpose for our main typify to, to reduce language barriers, and help globalisation and that you don't force everyone to speak your language, you meet them in their language.

 

Bharath Varma 

And so yeah, sure.

 

Richard Schiller  

I think you got it. Absolutely. Right. When you were saying about the difference that the the internet has made to the world of business, and the fact that you can, you know, do business everywhere, all at once from a single location. And language is this kind of missing factor in that, that, that, you know, that's a great theory, but as Altman points out, in order to achieve that, you know, you've got to spread your language more widely than than English or any other single language. So there's a kind of, you know, really amazing capability there, but But you have to take into account the multilingual side in order to exploit it.

 

Bharath Varma  

Yeah, yeah. For sure. Yeah, I guess it's also, like oddments said, a lot of people, as at least in the business world do understand English and speak English, across, like across the globe right now. But I feel like this just like when you communicate people to them, when you communicate with people in their own language, that definitely creates value, right. And there have been multiple studies that have been conducted, which say that 73% of potential customers or customers are a lot more likely to buy your product, if you kind of talk to them in their own language. I guess, understanding the language and being able to communicate is one thing. But yeah, just having this feeling that the company can really speak to me and kind of, I think that feeling itself, like, you know, makes a difference to people.

 

Oddmund Braaten  

Definitely.

 

Bharath Varma 

 Great. Great, so yeah, so to get so we have a bunch of late topics or questions that that we had that we want to talk about. So the first one being, how important are multilingual events? And how do they function as a revenue generator for marketers? Or when would you want to? Yeah, share your views?

 

Oddmund Braaten  

I think Well, partly, you answered it already, that it studies show that if you meet the customers in their language, then you can, you can sell more, you can create more trust, and you can widen your reach. So I think that it in the end, it's a volume game, and there's a game of numbers. So by using multilingual capabilities, you can reach people more and you can get deeper into them. And, and also, in not just in the selling process, but also in the education process afterwards, where I think it becomes even more important that even though people understand the language, let's say English, if you're using that to the simplicity, but but in the educated when you have it in your native tongue, you understand that even further, and then that's important for let's say, for medical, and for a lot of basically everything that you're selling, and people are going to use, I think that's also a key point. And not just in the selling process, but in the whole lifecycle of what you're doing with the customers. Yeah.

 

Bharath Varma  

Yeah. And also, like, like, one point that comes to my mind is, I think, traditionally, in terms of how events were conducted, were always in person, which meant that they have always had the geographical boundaries, right. So and, and because it was geography, because we had all these geographical boundaries, you for a lot of events, you had like people from one region, or it was already widely known that, like the conference, or the conversations are going to be in English. So the people who didn't understand it would not even show up to the conference. Right. And I think it was okay for a lot of organisers, because of the limited capacities that when use, like that the like, because of the physical constraints of doing a physical of doing an in person event, right. But, you know, now with virtual breaking the balance of that were that were there earlier from a geography perspective now, and there's no restriction of size, right? So I think it's just so much easier to kind of reach out to a lot more people than we've ever been able to do that, in that sense. Yeah. And with and with technology, which companies like, you know, interpret fi offer, I think it's just like, so much more easier for organisers to be able to offer, you know, multilingual as a feature for almost all the events, right? Again, I'm not saying that it makes sense for every single event, it obviously depends on the company. So I guess there's no, there's not going to be a one size fits all answer there. But but if you are a global company selling to different parts of the globe, like we've seen some of our like, you know, large customers, having a conference, having conference for the US customers in the US prospects, and having the same content to be delivered to the EMEA region and to the APAC region. You probably on the same day, but in different time zones, right? Because that is an important piece. But also to be able to offer like, you know, multilingual support, there is an incredible isn't it is an incredibly important thing to do. Right. And, and we've seen a lot of people do that. And I'd say apart from that, it's also I think one is like for people to really understand the different languages, but I guess it's the other. The other point is also that like, for people, for people for whom inclusion is an important piece, like say, for example, if I'm an English speaking person, and I absolutely understand English, but the fact that if certain brand really cares about making the events and all the content inclusive, just and if that aligns with my value system, I'm just a lot more likely to buy their products. Right? Even if it is not, like, even if I'm not benefiting out of it, just the fact that a brand really cares about it means something to the audience.

 

Richard Schiller  

I think you're absolutely right, but Right. But I would also say on a very, you know, more practical level. A lot of the time, yes, you can get through perhaps by using English, but the understanding will be quicker and deeper, if you are speaking in their own language. So, you know, it will bring advantages in in way more cases than you would you would think the engagement is so much greater. And, you know, that's what you're trying to do is that you're trying to connect. And as you point out, that it's a different way of connecting, isn't it when we're all remote, you can't do the things like buy someone a coffee or whatever, you know, there's a lot of things that have been taken away if you're working remotely. So things like working across languages, helps put back some of that intimacy that, you know, you wouldn't otherwise have. I'd also note though, that I've worked in quite a lot of industries. And some of them English was was really well spoken. I would note it was industries where there weren't so many people, you know, typically it was, and the the industries where they were, you know, more people around the globe, but there are more people who don't speak English and that you know, that it becomes more important for you to communicate to people in their in their own tongue. But I absolutely do agree with you. It's also about that other sort of honouring and respecting side of the interaction that, you know, showing that you care. So you get that whole raft of things, you get efficiency, you get more of a connection, you show your respect. And and you, you know, you you honour your, your intellectual interlocutor by by using their own language. Yeah,

 

Bharath Varma  

For sure. So, yeah. So moving on to the next question, how to stay connected with larger target groups in a remote world? I guess I can start with this. Yeah, so one, I think we just talked about a bit about this, when we're talking about like how virtual has connected the whole world in a way that has never been really done before. Which essentially means that you can pretty much have like different target groups and like, target different regions, target different regions. And yeah, you can like literally target like, you know, from a New York City, to a Beijing or to Tokyo, and you can have like your customers like, all over. So yeah, I guess it's really about. Yeah, when you're talking about how to stay connected with large, dried fruits, it really depends on the company. And it really depends on the market aspirations or the company, right. So probably, if you're an early stage company that is like really focusing on one geography. I wouldn't say it's important, but probably just not as important, right? Because you're talking to a really specific set of people focused on one geography. But yeah, as the companies grow and as you start selling to different geographies, to use and, and once you gain foothold in one market, we all know that companies kind of want to start selling in other regions of the world, right? So you might be a company that started off in in Beijing, or you might be a company that started off. And so that doesn't matter. Like, they'd come a point where and you'd want to kind of get out of that home region and start selling to other regions, right, and have targeted groups across the world. And then then it really, then the whole concept of multilingual capabilities, income communication just becomes very, very important, right? Because like we covered just a while ago, like, everyone's just like, a lot more comfortable in their mother tongue, even if they can speak English, so yeah, so and it just, and when you're talking about staying connected, I guess it's just not about just the basic layer of communication, right? It is, it is also an import, it is also the feeling of being connected with the brand. And what the brand is talking about. And not just understanding what they're talking about. It's about just feeling connected to the mission, vision, the value system. And I guess things like that is so much easier, if you feel that. Yeah, they're talking to you. And, and also, the second part is like, Why limit yourself? Right? I think there was a time when only like, probably, really, really large companies could do it just because of how expensive it was. But now like, yeah, with technology, like with, you know, with solutions, like you offer, it's just so much more affordable, right. And with virtual events, and the combination of virtual events, with the integration solutions, it's just so much easier, and a lot more affordable for, for companies to be able to do that much sooner than they've been able to do probably, like 510 years ago.

 

Oddmund Braaten  

I mean a lot has changed in the last, I would say, five to 10 years, as you said, technology has made it possible. And that's also how we we started to, you know, the classic way of providing it, let's say interpreting was that you had equipment on site with these boxes and radio receivers and, and now with the internet, you can replace tonnes of equipment, in flying in interpreters are transport. So you can not just in providing it but also reducing the cost and increasing the capabilities that we you can add on not just audio interpreting, you can add on captions, you can have sign language, you can add on, maybe you get for an event. Last minute, if you have people coming from Japan that wants to join they weren't sure before for the online seminar, then you can add on languages in you're much more flexible also. So I think that flexibility is also something that's important in when when you are there with your customers and you can be more flexible on adding on things. It's I think that's also key in my mind and where technology really helps.

 

Richard Schiller 

Yeah. I was just going to add that, you know, I think the world's really very different and odd and talked about the last five to 10 years. But I had a period a few years ago of working with quite a lot of startup companies. And it was really notable that I think most of the companies I worked with that early market you're talking about that was not in their own country. You know, because a lot of people who come up with high tech ideas, the first opportunity may not be next door these days, you know, that's not how the world is so much now. For example, your one one company was seeing the market that Augmon knows really well telco and what they were selling was kind of a whole country thing. So you know you will you'll find your opportunity in the first country that has a you know that takes your product not not to your own country, you know, it's statistically unlikely. So you'll find all your work is being done in a second language in a language that no one in the business knows right. So yeah, it can be even from the very getgo you need a this kind of capability, you know, you need to be talking to people in languages other than your own. And the other thing I would say, of course, is that even the small companies, because they saw this, again, with the startups I was dealing with, that they wouldn't all be in the same country themselves, right. So it's typically an international team, even if it's tiny, often now, but talking across, you know, to, to a language, which, you know, they may share several languages between them, they're actually their first sales are happening in a location with a with a different language. And even if, as you know, as we said earlier, even if the people that you are selling to even if you make your first sale, and everyone has to talk, say English or one of the languages that, that you you have, then, you know, you typically have to drive down into that business and be talking to the operational people and, you know, the ones getting their hands dirty doing the work, will, they own often not going to be multilingual. So, so, you know, even for those early sales, they're the need for good coverage of language is really important. And it's vital, I think, to emphasise that what we're talking about here is, is really high quality, delivery of language. So, you know, you can be sure that the message that you gave is the one that will receive and that, you know, they will understand you because if if it is your first sale, you know, you need it to go well, then you you you can't waste your time trying to communicate everything trying to navigate through a language barrier. So so that, you know, that that quality, that effectiveness is really very vital, I think, from day one for businesses these days.

 

Bharath Varma  

Yeah, I think you make a really interesting point there, right, especially with, you know, the New Age, b2b Internet, SAS companies, I feel more often than not, you're actually it just gives you the ability to kind of like, you know, write some code and sell to any region on the planet. And more often than not, like, you're you're, yeah, you're not selling to the market that you're probably starting the company in. Right. So yeah, and I guess it's the same case with us, like we've started in India. And you're our biggest market is probably the US. The it. And that's just true for a lot of companies like we have, and you have some incredible companies like, you know, coming out of, like, everywhere, right? I was just looking at the stat the other day were in, like the more than 60 comp, b2b SaaS companies that do more than $100 billion that are based out of Tel Aviv. Yeah, and I'm pretty sure like, they do a whole lot of revenue in the US in India, across the globe. So, yeah, so yeah, that's definitely a really interesting point.  Good, so to move on to the next question is the best technology. Yeah. To discuss on the best technology available to offer multilingual support in events? Richard, do you all think that?

 

Richard Schiller  

So yes. You know, there's no sort of simple single answer to this. But if I can start with the fact that still I believe the very best engine that you can get for doing live real time interpretation is the human brain of the of the interpreter. Right. So they're still outperforming the technological alternatives for you know, the general case if you like, and one of the things that we really specialise in, at interpret Fi is that getting humans and, and technology to work together in harmony, because that's absolutely vital, you know, in order to deliver, you know, the, the kind of incredible gift that there is in that human interpreter. You need to make the technology work to the human right, not not the other way round. Always the you know, that's the weak link if you like, you know, you have to you have to work around human beings, because that's when you get the best out of them, and you absolutely deliver the most. But the world is constantly changing. And I was saying only yesterday to a customer, that if you look at sort of speech recognition, for example, as a technology, having worked in loads and loads of industries, I've never seen any, anything moving so fast. It's incredible, just all the time, the performances are changing. Now, I think it's going to be some long time before, it catches up with everything that a human interpreter can, can do, in the ideal conditions for a human interpreter. And that's why most of our customers are using human interpretation for most things that matter. But there are already cases where, where machine technology is better. And so it's things like, you know, at speed a computer will be to a human being, for example. So in terms of the best technologies, well, the general answer is human interpretation for for general interpretation, machine speech recognition, to turn that into, into readable text and machine translation, to give you that live instant translation, if you want the text to translate it. So your options are to have a human interpreter or you can, you can translate the the the captions, if, if that's going to suit your application. And the other thing to mention, while we're talking about technologies, I think this is a really interesting way the world is changing is that, well, we all respond really well to the spoken word. And that's what you know, a vital part of any business, I would say, and you want to be talking to literally talking to, and listening to your customers and your partners. Increasingly, the population is becoming users of multiple media at the same time. And so this combination of listening to speech and reading text, simultaneously, is a standard way of communicating and most young people, the majority, now use subtitles on things like YouTube or you know, any, any sort of moving media. So, you say sort of the ultimate, really, that combination of, of, you know, the spoken word in your own language, plus subtitles. And for some people, it can be, you know, that if if you are, if you are multilingual yourself, an awful lot of people are multilingual, but not proficient. So they might choose to listen in the original language, but read the subtitles in their own in their own language, or to take the captions in the original language and then listen, in their own language, so, so but that that multi pronged approach is, is really kind of the way that the population is going. And so, you know, you shouldn't think in just a sort of a narrow way, these days of just saying, Well, I've delivered the content in one form. That's, you know, that's not going to be as appealing and not going to connect to younger people as it is to older people, for example.

 

Oddmund Braaten  

And I think it's about giving people the choice and the possibilities, as you mentioned, Richard, I would maybe listened in English, but I would get the captions in German because I know Okay, when I write the report to my German colleagues, I have that and I can use that in makes it easier. Or is it said, this splendid capability so it's not just for accessibility, it's for I would say for everyone and, and what I'm also seeing if you've got to provide the capability, then you'd be surprised what people are using it for. So we had, for example, one of our main customers a big international organisation, the UN and they were use, we switched on these captions for accessibility reasons, because some people needed it. But then for later on, we switched it off. And then other people's had switch it on again, because they used it for the note to, to ask questions to whoever was speaking before, what did they say? So by then it's, it's not just about languages, but understanding is about giving people all these capabilities, and then they will make something out of it. And so that's also an important is also the quality, of course, that when things are translated, and that it's correct. And, and Richard is mentioning that the human brain is great, but I think the machine has a lot of advantages also uncertainly, and when you want to reach out into the long tail of customers that don't as a cost advantage, not just speed advantage.

 

Bharath Varma  

Yeah, I guess it's probably the use of humans. Plus the technology. And I guess it really depends on the use case, and at what scale you want to do it. And, yeah, I think like you've mentioned, I don't think that there's like one, like, you know, one answer for every use case. But yeah, probably it is the human plus the technology and, and how much of human and how much of technology really depends on the use case, and, and the scale at which you want to do it.

 

Richard Schiller 

Another example of the two working in harmony, is that to generate captions, what we do is we will educate the system, so that it's prepared for the sort of conversation that's, that's going to be had in the event. And that makes a tremendous difference to the real world performance. And it takes it to, you know, really very, very good quality. And that preparation can largely be done in an automated way. But there's always a little bit which is going to be done by human beings at the moment. So, so you will find, for example, if you use an event with captions, and you want a quality, then you know, there will be this this small human element in there that helps make that difference between, you know, good and the very best. Yeah. Yeah,

 

Bharath Varma  

I think like one, like one point that stood out to me, that you were making was just the fact that, like, you can't really, yeah, it's really just hard to estimate how people are going to use this technology and how it's going to be useful for different sets of people, right. Because most people, or most companies do it with the intent of making it accessible. But I think it's just a really interesting point that you had audience who are just using it for a completely different purpose it like, you know, in this case for taking notes, and to kind of pass it on to their colleagues and things like that. Yeah, I think it's just about giving people the options. And, yeah, there'll be some pretty interesting, you know, use cases that, that that come out with this

 

Richard Schiller  

Well interestingly, even if you take people say, with with hearing loss, who might be using captions, as you know, perhaps, as a strong component of the way they understand what's being said, those people will will typically be of course, using their eyes just like the rest of us do. To follow, you know, reading the text on slides and, and looking at expressions and all those things that you do almost without noticing. But they're quite often they can hear some of what's going on and they will be getting some component. You know, through hearing, there'll be getting some, through following the captions. And as we've already discussed a lot, you know, people work in multiple languages at the same time, so they will, you know, or even if it's the same language, there'll be, of course, partly listening, partly reading and so on. And you end up with really quite a complex balance. Oh, that that means, you know, it's almost unfathomable. But exactly how each person did manage to follow the event, you know, there's that it's such a complex equation. And what it really tells you is that you have to pay attention to doing everything the best way you can, if you want to have the best results, right, that you cannot dismiss any part of that equation.

 

Bharath Varma  

Yeah. For sure, so. Yeah. So moving on to the next topic. What should the community what should be the communication strategy for your next event?

 

Oddmund Braaten  

Yeah, that's a good question, I think, choosing the right platform, to have a dome, like we are on now. And then when you're thinking about your audience, and then think about the reach, and then just get add on the languages, get the right technology, get the right partners, I think, if we reaching out to them, organising event, and then let have, we like to have the discussion with the customer and, and sort of consult them in what makes sense, which platforms in which format. And it knows which languages what capabilities we add on. And then to understand a little bit, who they want to reach also. And then, of course, the event is not just what's happening here. And now it's the recording afterwards, you can even add on languages and localization after that. So a webinar, then we can become a training, that, again, can become marketing material that you can then add on. So it's, let's say, an event also lives after the event. And I think that's also something that that's new, that you can add on localization, as I said, and also think about blending. If you have some on site event, you can have also hybrid event with external people, external speakers, because sometimes, to get the best speakers, they need to work as we do, often nowadays from where they are and to get them to come to a certain location is first costly and timewise. And you can't get the specialist in professor in some special area we want to bring to your customer that our doctors are so so I think it's back to this flexibility and, and working with the rest the right partner and understanding each other. I think also, like we are trying to

 

Bharath Varma  

Yeah, yeah, I guess it all starts really with the objectives of the organisations in terms of like, what did they really want to kind of watch you out to that event? Or webinar? Or what was the doing? And the target market that they're going after? Right, but I guess what the new technology offers is the fact that you can, you no longer have the baggage you used to before in terms of the geographical boundaries, right, like you've mentioned, you can get speaker, you know, from a completely different country who probably cannot talk your language, and still get them to talk to your audience. I think that is incredibly powerful. Right? So and also you don't really need to kind of restrict yourself to speakers being available in your physical location or even in your country, for that matter. Even restrict speakers based on the on the language that they can communicate in. So it definitely does break a lot of barriers. But yeah, I guess it really depends on the objectives of, of the communication in the first place.

 

Richard Schiller  

I think there's one question really, that you need to ask at the beginning of your planning always, which is does this matter? If it matters, then you've got to do the best job that you can. Right? Because an awful lot of effort and time goes into these things quite often. And also, you know, the simple question of well, if it doesn't matter why you're doing it, right. So, you know, you have to be careful. You have to choose the partners that are going to be able to deliver for you. And you have to choose the you know that technology, the solutions that are going to give you the kind of performance that mean that your message is going to get through or that you are going to understand what's being said to you. You know that you make the event, you'd get the absolute maximum out of the event. I don't think there's any of us who are sitting here saying I've got lots of time on my hands. It doesn't matter whether I spend tomorrow usefully or not, you know when none of us in that position, so make the absolute most of every opportunity that you

 

Kishore  

this was backstage with Zuddl. If you'd like to hear more episodes, don't forget to subscribe. You can also listen to our episodes on Spotify, Google or wherever you stream podcast. Don't forget to visit Zuddl.com To know more about how you can begin humanising events.

Meet the guest

Oddmund Braaten

CEO, Interprefy

An experienced strategy and business development leader, he has held multiple leadership roles in the Hi-tech and Telecom industries and has been leading Interprefy’s transition from startup to a global RSI leader since 2015. Oddmund lives in Zurich and can often be found cycling across the Swiss alps.

Meet the guest

Richard Schiller

Senior Product Manager, Interprefy

He started his career in audio engineering at the BBC. After the unique pressures of live broadcasting, he moved to product management. Richard has since worked in web search, banking, retail, automation, business operations and many other markets holding various roles in product management, product marketing and strategy. Richard lives in the British countryside where he walks his two dogs.

Meet the guest

Bharath Varma

CEO & Co-founder, Zuddl

Bharath founded Phoenix Live, a premier event management agency in 2015 which has hosted more than 300 conferences for multinational companies like Microsoft, Google, and Deloitte. Bharath grew Phoenix Live to a team of over 60 people with offices in 4 different cities.

hosted by

Kishore CS

Content Lead, Zuddl

Kishore is part of Zuddl’s very own Marketing team. A content creator and enthusiast since 2012, Kishore’s experience ranges from web content and internal communications to copywriting and brand identity.

Kishore CS, Content Lead, Zuddl