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Guide to translate business presentations that attract an international audience

Guide to translate business presentations that attract an international audience

You’re delivering a presentation at an international business event and you want to be sure that everyone in the room understand your message. I know how important this message is for you, and believe me, translating your business presentation will make a big difference.

I know it because I’ve already done it for some of my clients.

It’s a shame, because most of them weren’t aware of the importance of business translation and interpreting until they noticed the result of translating their business presentations for an international event.

I remember this particular client that got back to me saying that thanks to the translation of their slides:

  • He increased the number of people interested in his business among the audience attending this event.
  • He landed two new contracts with international clients.
  • He presented his idea before a higher number of people, and managed to grab their attention with his slides translated into two different languages.

And that’s not all. Obviously this audience spread my client’s message among their clients, colleagues or partners. Word of mouth.

A translation of a business presentation can multiply the number of people that you’re reaching. Isn’t it a shame that people only notice this once they’ve hired translation or interpreting services?

But let’s be honest, good translations aren’t enough. We need to work with good slides and texts to guarantee the success of a business presentation.

What makes a good business presentation?

1// What’s the main point of your business presentation?

You should be able to sum up your presentation in one or two sentences. That’s the main idea that you want your audience to remember.

Yes, you will be able to back up this idea with data, figures and facts during your presentation, but you aim is that at the end of the day, each of them can sum up your presentation in the same main idea.

2// Think about how the information is structured

I love to use the rule of three when it comes to structure and organise information.

Haven’t you ever heard about the rule of three? It is related to how people process information. People are more likely to remember what you’re saying if you presented in groups of three elements (as you can see, for example, in the first list of this blog).

Make sure that your audience can easily follow your presentation, and clearly differentiate one point from the next one.

3// Put the bottom-line upfront… and at the end as well

I like to start my speeches with the bottom-line, this way my audience knows where I’m going with the point that I mention during the presentation.

But don’t forget to finish your presentation with the same bottom-line, as this will help your audience remember the main idea that you want to convey.

4// Surprise your audience with interactive presentations

But how can I create an interactive presentation? People can’t click in link as you present your slides from a screen.

I love to use QR codes in my presentation.

Now everyone has smartphones and they can scan them as you’re giving your speech. You can point them to interesting articles or reports related to the topic of your speech. But you can also encourage people to share something on Twitter or Facebook through these codes!

5// Put yourself in the seat of someone who isn’t an expert in your field

We tend to think that our audience knows as much as we do about something, but in most cases our audience isn’t specialised in the topic that we’re talking about. Try to talk to them in the same way that you talk to a friend about the same topic.

Imagine yourself having coffee with your best friend and use the same type of language with your audience. You’ll engage with them better than if you use all this jargon of your industry.

6// Make it pretty

Obviously, the design is important when it comes to creating beautiful slides. Make sure that you pay attention to:

  • The typology that you’re going to use.
  • Colours – try to use your corporate colours if you’ve created your own palette.
  • Images and graphics – they are a strong visual support to grab the attention of your audience.

I know you can crease beautiful slides in Power Point. But I normally go for InDesign instead. You have more options and freedom to create great slides and play around with typologies, texts and graphics.

7// Provide a take-away

This is something that I personally like to do. It’s how I say thank you to my audience.

I normally prepare some extra material to complement my presentations. Something that your audience can use to put into practice your tips, or a piece of useful information that you didn’t have time to mention during your speech.

It doesn’t need to be something very complicated to create. You can even recycle some content that you’ve previously used in other presentations. There are just a few ideas:

  • A list with steps to implement the tips that you have mentioned. A sort of action plan.
  • A list with resources and tools related to the speech.
  • A detailed report to explain concepts and ideas explained in your presentation.

(I bet you spotted this one!)

How to translate business presentations

And please, never translate business presentations with Google Translate. We all know that now you can upload a file to Google Translate and get it “translated”. It’s not going to work and you’re putting your presentation at risk. (And you’re submitting your documents to the Google Translate platform, which means that your documents won’t be private anymore).

Having said that, let’s have a look at what we need to bear in mind to translate business presentations:

1// Specialisation in the target business culture

Just because you’re an expert in your field doesn’t mean that you can be an expert in the same field in different countries and cultures. Concept may be the same in certain fields, such as maths or sciences, but they may differ when it comes to system-bound fields such as law.

Even if concepts are the same, maybe the way of presenting them before an audience may be different from one culture to another.

Ask yourself: Am I aware of all these differences?

If not, you should work with someone who is an expert in the target culture to not just translate words, but adapt them into the culture that you want to target.

2// Specialisation in business

If you’re reading this blog post, I’m sure that you’re aware of the importance of communication in the business world. Words are a great asset to approach potential clients and close new deals.

Make sure that you work with a translator specialised in business to accurately translate your documents.

translate business presentations

I’m sorry, Google Translate. But one billion isn’t “un billón” in the UK.

And it makes a big difference if you’re using figures to back up the main point of your presentation, right?

I always say that if you are 100% sure that you want to do something, do it right. Otherwise, don’t do it. And this applies to translation as well. You can get great results from a translation if you do it right, but if you aren’t willing to do it right, a bad translation can damage the reputation of your business.

Guide to translate business presentations that attract an international audience

If you have decided to translate your business presentation, do it right.

3// Knowledge of graphic design

The translation of your business presentation must be equally appealing. And this means that the person in charge of the translation must know how to fit the translated text into their corresponding text boxes, change typography if needed, and so on.

For example, when translating from English into Spanish, you normally end up having longer texts. This means that you need to change the size of the typography or structure the text in a different way so it can fit in a slide.

Ideally, the person translating the text must be the one making these changes to make sure that the slides are coherent. A person who doesn’t know the target language could wrongly change the position of texts.

In fact, I was talking to one of my colleagues about this. She’s also a translator and was managing a project in different languages. She got the text translated into Japanese, which wasn’t one of her working languages. She was telling me that she didn’t know what to do with that because she didn’t even recognise the start or end of a sentence.

4// Focus on text first

This is how I personally like to work. I normally work on text first and forget about the design.

I prefer to focus on research, terminology, cultural adaptation and expression first. Once I’ve polished the translation, I’ll save some time to focus on making it pretty.

People without the appropriate software normally work on the original file and translate the text as they go, paying attention to the formatting of the text at the same time. This may distract you from using the correct terminology or noticing repetitions within the text.

I’d recommend extracting the text from the slide first and working just with words, before paying attention to the format of slides.

5// Do you need an interpreter as well?

You have decided to translate business presentations for the next international event that you’re attending. That’s a great starting point. But have you asked yourself if you also need an interpreter?

What’s the difference?

Whereas a translator will get your presentation and documents translated into a different language, interpreters will deliver your speech into a different language. Do you need someone during your presentation to speak the same words than you in a different language? If the answer is yes, then you also need an interpreter.

Most people aren’t aware of the different services that translators and interpreters offer and their benefits.

Now that you know the benefits of translating business presentations, you can’t make up any excuse to do so for the next international event that you’re attending. Translating your business slides is a great way to attract international clients and a great opportunity to differentiate your business from the competence. Have you ever worked with a translator or interpreter before? Are you planning to hire one for your next event? I’d love to hear from you!

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