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The Ultimate Guide To Multilingual Virtual & Hybrid
Event Planning


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1. State of event planning

COVID-19 has fundamentally reshaped how organisations around the world do business.

A recent McKinsey report discusses how companies have adapted to provide online services — a development that’s been embraced by customers. On the work front, this same report expects that online work will be a mainstay of post-pandemic life. Their research predicts that there will be four to five times “more remote work than before the pandemic.”

Reflecting the trend of moving online, multinational companies have substituted business trips with online gatherings. As we unpack in our article on how COVID-19 has changed the world of translation — without face-to-face translation, businesses are becoming more reliant on tools to facilitate language interpretation.

While it’s impossible to know how much of our consumer and work behaviours have permanently changed, we will never fully return to pre-pandemic ways of doing things. That train has left the station.

How COVID-19 has impacted event planning

Few industries have been as affected by the pandemic as event planning and management. Widespread lockdown measures in many countries have prevented physical gatherings, forcing organisers to experiment with holding online events. For many, this experiment has proven a success.

Research from Reed Exhibitions reveals that people are increasingly attending online events. With a cultural shift towards meeting online, planners are discovering benefits to this environment; physical events are limited by space but online attendance is only limited by the technology you use. Many planners have started asking themselves — “Why should I limit my attendance to the local market when my event can reach the whole world?”

Online event planning has its benefits but it’s a radically different affair from planning physical events. Event managers will need to learn what they need to successfully plan for an online event. And, as audience expectations evolve and the event space innovates, planners need to keep up with the latest trends in the event management landscape.


2. Physical vs online and the role of hybrid events

A key part of creating events is first deciding what kind of event you need to plan for. In this section, we dive into the pros and cons of holding physical, online and hybrid events as they relate to; experience, networking, cost, accessibility and sustainability.


  • Physical events: Generally, physical events are more immersive for attendees and there is less risk of them being distracted, as they are effectively a “captive audience” who want to make the most of their experience. For many, seeing admired thought leaders ‘in the flesh’ is more highly valued than interacting with them online.
  • Online events: As technology plays a larger role in virtual events, this can be used to create positive experiences that would otherwise not be possible. These include virtual experiences, access to high-profile speakers, the ability to watch recordings of missed sessions, and more cost-effective built-in translation for multilingual speakers.

    Virtual experience highly depends on the equipment and connection of each attendee. Low-quality internet access and poor quality audio equipment can lead to a frustrating experience. Online events need to compete with distractions in attendees’ home environments and risk “screen fatigue” for those who already spend most of their day online. For tips on organising engaging online events, read our guide on remote and hybrid event planning in 2021.


  • Physical events: These foster stronger connections and networking success, as they can meet in person, shake hands, and have eye contact. Having a brand representative at events can lead to memorable interactions that build strong customer relationships.
  • Online events: Virtual events make it possible to network on a larger scale, with increased exposure of your organisation’s “booth” via online traffic and less time commitment for each engagement. With increased attendance from around the world, virtual events offer greater opportunities with exposure to more people in different regions and markets.


  • Physical events: Incurring significant costs, physical event planners need to account for factors that range from venue, infrastructure, furnishings, exhibits, booths, staff and multilingual hire to travel and entertainment expenses. Speakers also tend to charge higher multiples for in-person events.
  • Online events: Keynote speakers charge more for in-person events, meaning budgets can go further and higher-profile speakers can be secured. With sessions made available for on-demand viewing, host organisations get more long-term value from their event. While online events are less expensive to attend, setup costs are lower.


  • Physical events: Event attendance is limited by venue capacity and attendees' ability to travel and clear time in their schedule. How accessible your event is for people with disabilities is dependent on each venue.
  • Online events: Virtual events are more accessible for both speakers and attendees, meaning larger-scale events are possible with a far greater global footprint. Translation tools remove traditional language barriers and assistive technologies expand access to people with disabilities.


  • Physical events: A higher carbon footprint is created from delegate and staff air travel, along with the waste created from stands, paper, banners, single-use items and consumables.
  • Online events: By eliminating travel, online events have a lower carbon footprint. Waste from physical marketing materials is eliminated and home energy consumption less than what’s used to power huge venues.

Hybrid events

What is a hybrid event?

A hybrid event can take on many shapes. But at the core of a hybrid event is a conference, tradeshow, seminar, workshop or other meeting type that combines a in-person "live" event experience with a "virtual" online component. Find out more about hybrid event basics in our post on What is a hybrid event and how to get started.

What are the benefits of hybrid events?

Hybrid events offer audiences flexibility by combining physical and virtual spaces. While this approach may seem to be maximising the benefits of hosting virtual and physical events, it incurs the logistical requirements of both.

With online audiences adding to your funds, hybrid events minimise the risk of planning costly physical events. Conversely, hybrid events allow you to gauge your audience’s receptiveness to online events while offering them a more conventional physical alternative. To see how going online has affected top brands, read our post on 2020’s best live events.

On top, event planners can create immersive experiences to connect onsite and remote attendees through technology with a clear focus on creating a stunning experience for both worlds.

How do I get started with creating a stunning hybrid event?

Of course, hybrid events can be challenging - from logistics to creating new value for exhibitors and sponsors to catering to different time zones. But the real challenge will be to flip the mindset of who you’re catering to. Having an on-site event with online access offered as a bolt-on may leave remote participants disappointed.

The key to solving this challenge is to create one event, but two experiences — and we have some best practice tips on how to do so in this blog article.


3. Understanding online event technology

Virtual events are made possible by technology that bridges regional and linguistic divides. In this section, we discuss the different kinds of online event technology, what this technology is capable of, and how it adds value to your event.

Getting the tech together to host your event one thing. Making it a memorable one is something else entirely. For insights on engaging your audience, read over our tools, tactics & features to drive online event engagement.

What is online event technology?

Online event technology is a catch-all term for a wide array of features that can comprise virtual events. This technology is often brought together on platforms that provide attendees with a virtual space to interact and a stage for speakers or performers to broadcast from. Crucially, your technology should be compatible with the different devices that your participants use to attend your event.

Here’s a breakdown of the technology that’s commonly used for virtual events.

  • Event website/landing pages: Your event website is used to promote your event, showcase speakers and display event schedules. It can also be where you accept event registration and sell tickets.
  • Event host: Your website can host your event but online event platforms have the technology and capacity to host high numbers of attendees. Your event host functions as your virtual venue that your participants use to navigate your event, find sessions and interact with each other.
  • Livestream technology: This lets attendees and participants broadcast a real-time audio-visual feed — to do this, many use the web cameras and microphones on the device that they use to attend your event.
  • Audience engagement technology: Critical to creating a stimulating experience, this technology facilitates audience engagement with speakers and fellow attendees. This can take the form of quizzes, match-making and networking, live polling and commenting, forums, event activity feeds, contact requests and easily-shared virtual business cards.
  • Content management technology: The system that you use to share event recordings and content like articles and presentation slides. This increases how much value your attendees get from your event.
  • Language translation and interpretation technology: Language translation or interpretation is the key to expanding your audience across borders. This includes auto-captioning translation, synchronous audio translations, or having different language audio feeds provided by professional translators or by AI.
  • Data and analytics technology: This unlocks the ability to track registration and attendance, measure poll data and get participant feedback to improve your next event. Sophisticated virtual event platforms offer marketing tools and integration with Customer Management Systems (CRM).

Multi-language solutions for online event platforms

Despite there being a wealth of feature-rich options, the vast majority of online event platforms rely on third-party services for language translation and interpretation. To kickstart your search for language solutions, we’ve written a post on getting multilingual functionality out of the best web conferencing platforms. In it, we cover well-known platforms like Zoom, ON24 and Microsoft Teams, among many others.

But what does a good event language solution look like and how do they work with event platforms? To answer these questions, we’ve written a guide on picking the right multi-language solution — read it to learn exactly what your language solution needs to provide to run a successful event.

Interprefy has partnered with many online event platforms, guaranteeing that our simultaneous interpretation solutions work on their service. Here’s a list of some of the online event platforms that we work with.

Essentially, there are two types of technology available today to break down language barriers in events:

Remote Simultaneous Interpretation (RSI) - Technology

RSI technology like Interprefy enables event planners to bring vetted and subject-savvy conference interpreters into the sessions. These interpreters work remotely and receive the floor audio and video via the RSI platform and translate the speech into the selected language in real-time.

Live Captioning

Captioning is the mode of providing attendees with subtitles of the speech, either translated and typed in by a translator in real time, provided through machine translation or by providing speech-to-text technology transcribing the interpreters' speech into text in real-time.

AI speech translation

AI has come a long way and can be a more cost-effective solution to making your events multilingual. AI solutions like Interprefy Aivia, that benchmark the best engines in the market for each language combination and optimises them to ensure it captures your important terminology, are the best way to ensuring the quality of your live translation. 


4. How to plan and host a successful online event

Many elements contribute to a successful online event so careful planning is a must. Top considerations for building online events include setting goals and expectations, using the right technology, engaging your audience, promoting your event and catering to multinational attendees. Here are our tips on making your event a successful one.

Setting event goals and expectations about the online experience

What do you want your event to achieve? By first understanding your event goals, you’ll be in a better position to create agendas and curate talks. This is also the first step in figuring out what to do to build audience engagement — more on that later.

Part of setting audience expectations is letting them know how they can log into your event and what they can get out of it; like making contacts, staying on the cutting-edge of their industry or being inspired by thought leaders. Without knowing how your event benefits them, few people are likely to attend.

Engaging your audience

An unengaged audience can barely be called an audience. Engaging your attendees is vital in creating an unforgettable event that can be repeated in the future, especially true as you’re competing with other online experiences.

Use social media to encourage engagement before, during and after your event. As your attendees are already on their devices, this is a great opportunity to maximise social reach and impact. Many event platforms have audience engagement tools and you should aim to amplify your event’s unique elements to highlight why your event is worth engaging in. For more on creating engaging events, read our post on making your online multilingual events stand out.

Using the right technology

Technology is the lifeblood of your event, so test your tools regularly and well in advance of your event. To ensure an excellent audience experience, you need high-quality audio and video equipment and a partner who can ensure a glitch-free, great sounding and great looking experience.

Your virtual event platform choice hugely impacts the technology at your disposal. To make sure that you’ve made the right choice, ask yourself, how suitable is your platform for multilingual audiences? Can it be accessed from a variety of devices and operating systems? And, do you have the necessary tools, features, and add-ons you need to guarantee the best possible experience?

Catering to multinational audiences and speakers

Language translation technology makes it easy to attract and cater for multinational audiences and speakers. This means having all relevant information translated into multiple languages and facilitating easy communication with a translation tool that integrates into the video conferencing platform.

Apart from language issues, the timing of your event needs to be carefully considered as your attendees may be in vastly different time zones. It would be inconvenient for your Japanese headline speaker to wake up at 4 am for a midday talk with your primarily San Francisco audience. Breaks should also factor into your scheduling to avoid screen fatigue.

Promoting your event

Running a comprehensive promotional strategy in the months leading up to your event will create hype and boost attendance. This can be done through online marketing like posting on social media and by getting your speakers to promote your event on their channels.

Without the physical capacity restrictions of in-person events, you should aim high for attendance numbers. Read our post on effective tips and tactics to promote your online multilingual event for more insights on what you can do to build event attendance.

The audio quality of your live translation or simultaneous interpretation is another factor that affects event success. Improve your audio quality by using high-calibre audio equipment, placing your speakers in the right locations and ensuring that sound can be clearly heard by interpreters or translators — including AI language apps.


5. How to get the most out of your event technology

Sophisticated virtual event platforms are bursting with features that often go unused. Either these features aren’t needed, they aren’t known about or event managers haven’t learned how to utilise them. Either way, they’re included in the price you pay for your event platform.

It’s not just your platform that you might not be getting the most out of. With a strategy in place, event planners can maximise the value they get from all the technology they use like their online promotional tools and audio-visual equipment. We’ve previously written about getting the most out of virtual conference platforms. Having an answer to the following questions will help you utilise your technology to its full capabilities.

Do you have a unified technology strategy?

A unified technology strategy is a blueprint of what technology you’re using and how this tech will meet your event goals. This strategy gives you a master plan over your tech, helping you see where you can improve on your processes.

Ideally, your tools are aligned and complement each other without any gaps in features or overlaps in functionality.

If different tools are used to meet singular needs or to plug holes, there’s an increased risk of unnecessarily high expenditure while failing to get the most value from each tool.

Is all of your technology needed?

While some features may look good on paper, do they add value in practice? Having unnecessary pieces of tech can increase your costs while limiting your capacity to focus on the tools that matter. Niche events or intimate events are also less likely to benefit from an expansive tech strategy.

Do you understand the features of your tech stack — and are you using all of them?

Constant learning is required to get the most out of your event technology. That’s because it’s easy to overlook tools when you first learn how to use a system. And tech updates can introduce new game-changing features that are often missed.

By proactively seeking to deepen your understanding of your chosen solutions, you ensure that you’re getting the most out of what’s available to you.

Can you measure the impact of your technology?

Are you able to measure the performance, impact, and ROI of each piece of technology? Your online event tech stack should provide all the data you need to gauge its effectiveness. If you aren’t making the impact that you feel that you should, then you should revise your unified tech strategy.

If you feel limited by the capabilities of your event tech, then you should explore alternative options.


6. Eliminating event language gaps with Interprefy

Interprefy is a cloud-based solution providing remote simultaneous interpretation by professional interpreters, AI speech translation and captions for any meeting or event - online, hybrid or in-person. So, whenever one of your event attendees speaks in one language, a professional conference interpreter or an AI-powered solution instantly and accurately turns it into another attendee’s language of choice. With our remote capabilities, interpreters, speakers and participants can interact from anywhere on Earth.

Attendees can use Interprefy on the same device they use to attend your online event — no extra equipment is required, just a stable internet connection. Do you have questions about remote simultaneous interpretation or Interprefy’s service? Check out the answers to Interprefy’s frequently asked questions.

Is Interprefy for you?

Trusted by massive companies like J.P Morgan and Google, Interprefy’s simultaneous conference interpreting services work for any online, hybrid and on-site event — from small, intimate team meetings to large-scale, multinational hybrid conferences. For specifics on how event planners use the platform, read through Interprefy’s use cases.

Online event planners interested in using the platform can read about setting Interprefy up for virtual and hybrid conferences or setting Interprefy up for webinars on any meeting platform.

Additional Interprefy services

At Interprefy, we provide a suite of event services that include project management and remote and on-site support. Apart from the Interprefy RSI platform, here are some of the interpretation services that we offer.

  • Finding talent: As we partner with top language service providers, Interprefy can source, train and prepare interpreters for your event for any language combination and subject area.
  • Training and briefing: Interprefy can train your interpreters on how to use our RSI platform. We’ll ensure that they feel confident and well-equipped to perform online. We’ll also support the briefing of your interpreters with agendas, glossaries and presentations so that they can prepare accordingly
  • Quality control: Interpreters have incredibly stressful jobs. Our speaker training takes away much of this stress through quality control. We’ll ensure that speakers are well-placed, that they’re able to broadcast clearly and that their microphones and headsets are of high quality. This strict quality control will improve the overall interpreting experience and quality.

7. Takeaways

Accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, event planners are increasingly holding their events online. Without physical restrictions, online events can reach larger multinational audiences, increasing your event’s earning potential. Apart from physical and virtual events, hybrid events offer a ‘best of both world’ approach while incurring logistical requirements of both.

Apart from needing your own online event technology, platform features can help you engage with your audience, promote your event and bridge communication gaps through language translation, interpretation or captioning technology.

As technology facilitates virtual events, you should have a strategy to ensure that you’re getting the most out of your tech stack. Along with setting event goals and attendee expectations, these factors are critical in hosting a successful online event.

To open your event to international audiences, you should use language interpretation or translation services. For a world-class solution to your online event’s language interpretation needs, book a free 15-minute introduction call to speak with an Interprefy representative.

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