The UEFA Experience: Presenting and Facilitating with simultaneous translations

Creating an active learning environment where language isn’t a barrier

Where should I sit?

If you’ve got a UEFA event built around dialogue, then you remove choice about seating! It has to be engineered. There are 24 official languages in Europe but lots more if you take into account regional languages. Because language is bound up with a national identity for UEFA it’s more than just translation.

What’s that you say?

Nations are clustered around shared tables based on ‘micropolitics’ and the likelihood of a shared language. At the back of the room are ten booths each of which houses two translators who work shifts. Each of the booth translates what they hear from the stage into their designated language: Russian, French, Spanish, German, Slovak, Lithuanian. Over 40% of Europeans are bilingual. On each table are sets of headphones. In the room there are roaming mics and others who are bi or multilingual. That’s how groups and planned discussion activities work.

Learning on the job

I first encountered presenting with a translator years ago in north Wales. It was an odd moment when from behind the curtained booth at the side of the stage a hand appeared. On investigation it was the Welsh translator asking if I could slow down. That was my first and best lesson: slow down. It helps you; it helps them. The next is to use text on slides sparingly but purposefully. Most of us can infer meaning from a well-structured sequence. The next is to read the audience. If there’s blank looks repeat what you’ve said, if there’s noise and distraction go quiet.

Stood at the front

Standing on the platform allows you to monitor the energy levels in the room. A great experience when it’s so cosmopolitan