Checklist for organizers of multilingual events

Before the event:

Communication & preparation

– Inform the speakers/facilitators that there will be interpretation support.

Make sure that workshop facilitators and speakers know that their contributions will be interpreted into different languages. Ask them to plan accordingly: using our equipment involves the use of microphones, headphones and cables. Workshop exercises that include lots of moving around at the same time as verbal interaction are difficult to interpret. To facilitate interpretation it’s helpful to pass the text/presentation and/or a glossary on to the interpreters beforehand. Songs, poems, reading out texts, videos and recordings are difficult to interpret on the spot and the material needs to be available to the interpreters beforehand.
Take into account that everything may take a bit longer.

– Inform participants that there will be interpretation support. Consider asking participants to bring their own radios /phones and earplugs if possible.

– Make sure that participants are aware that they can express themselves in the language they’re more comfortable in! speakers do not have to speak the dominant language at the event.

– If you have any kind of sign-up system, ask participants what their language needs are, so you have an idea beforehand of what languages interpretation will be needed for. If you want to recruit interpreters among the participants, this is also helpful.

– Make sure to organize (enough!) interpreters: every direction (f.e. en→fr) requires at minimum 1, preferably 2 interpreters per session of 2 hours.

– Assign at least 1 person for internal coordination with the interpreters, and a contact person between [bla] and organizers

– Bring up language groups in preparation meetings; how language affects group dynamics and the possibility for people of minority language groups to participate.

– If your event is public, make sure to advertise it in all the languages you want to provide interpretation into. If people who (only) speak those languages are not aware that the event is accessible to them or even that it is happening, they will not come, and interpretation will not be useful.

Logistics & program

– Make sure the event is accessible for [bla] to start setting up at least 4 hours before the start of the event, preferably the day before.

– Plan in some time (~1hour) to meet bla before the event (preferably 1 day before start) to plan the event and go through the program together.

– Plan the program so that big/multilingual sessions always take place in the same room(s)/space(s).

– Plan for 15 minutes before every session in which interpreters, coordinators,
moderators/facilitators, speakers, and [bla] technicians can meet to assess needs of participants; languages spoken in the session; and form in which the session takes place (small groups, big plenary with all participants, dynamics of the meeting)

– Plan sufficient time in between sessions, so interpreters and [bla] technicians can have breaks.Ask [bla] about their techincian’s dietary needs & needs for accomodation (no need for expensive hostels/hotels, please just ask!).

– during events we are very busy and don’t have time to self-organise food. Please organise breakfast, lunch and dinner for us during the days we are with you!


Take into account that:

– [bla] is a grassroots collective with no public funding.

– [bla] is a registered non-profit organization and can send an invoices. Please bear in mind that while no [bla] member receives any compensation for supporting your event, we do need considerable funds to finance transport, replace lost or broken equipment and maintain the collective.

– We ask well-funded events to give some money to our “solidarity pot”, that we use to support events with little or no funding. We will never ask more than you can give, but expect events with access to funding to contribute an appropriate amount to our running costs.
Consider the possibility of [bla] placing a donation pot during the event to collect donations from participants.

During the event:

– we advise that 15 minutes before every session interpreters, coordinators, moderators/facilitators, speakers, and [bla] technicians meet to assess needs of participants, languages spoken in the session and form in which the session takes place.- [bla] may need to ask attention for language needs during the meeting. During the starting session we want to give a short introduction of who we are, why we‘re here and what it means to speak interpreter-friendly. (~10 min)

– Please support [bla] to encourage participants to cooperate with the multilingual set up and treat technicians, each other and equipment with love and respect.

– In case of technical problems: please be patient and give [bla] technicians a few minutes to solve the issue. It’s usually a quick fix! Don’t continue the session without interpretation. Last-minute notifications on which room our equipment will be needed in (e.g. in an open space format) might result in a delay in the program or interpretation not being feasible during that session: we do need time to set up and break down equipment.

– Make sure that speakers and participants announce what language they’re going to speak when they take the mic.

After the event:

It‘d be nice to exchange some feedback on how things went and how to make our movements more language-inclusive in the future 🙂