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The 5th Conference of the Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies Is Another Step Forward and a New Experience



Asta Rusakevičienė, CEO

The Association of Lithuanian Translation Companies (ALTC) has already organised conferences four times in a row. In these conferences, we tried to analyse the Lithuanian translation services market and present the latest worldwide news from our industry. I used to deal with this work alone until it finally became boring, and if a speaker finds it boring, the audience will be bored even more. However, a conference does not consist of only one presentation. We used to invite various conference speakers from Lithuania; however, as professionals from other areas than the language service sector, in most cases they linked their presentations to our industry to a minimum extent. Therefore, the feedback from participants at conferences, which was very positive at first, later deteriorated. We had to move forward and bring the conference to a higher level. My goal was to invite real industry experts, international speakers who present in major events of our industry, to come to Lithuania, so that the participants in our conference can listen to them. Thus, the 5th ALTC conference was designed to be different.

I hope it was different indeed. Such speakers as Richard Brooks, Anu Carnegie-Brown, Jessica Rathke, Snežana Kondrašova and Dominik Radziszowski would not shame any event. I am very grateful to them for accepting my invitation to come to Lithuania.

Besides, the speakers were not selected according to the sound of their names, so to speak. In my opinion, before starting to organise any conference one should first come up with a theme. If you have no vision of what you want to achieve, you won’t know if you are on the right track and if you have achieved the objective. Having considered a wide variety of topics, I finally realised that the vast majority of companies that have the potential to participate in our event are not big and innovative. Therefore, the most important goal of such companies is to expand their business; consequently, tips and insights on how best to do this are always relevant, especially if there are real experts from our industry sharing their advice. Thus, the topic of the conference “Growing our Business. Growing our Team” came up almost by itself. While growing a company, one cannot forget any of the fundamental aspects of a language service company, for example: to analyse one’s own company and create its growth strategy; to manage its human resources and be a real leader; to manage and motivate one’s own freelance translators; to be able to sell one’s own services and, finally, to use the most suitable process management technologies. Thus, the speakers were selected according to the issues raised for consideration. I am immensely grateful to all the speakers for agreeing to come and share their experience and knowledge with us. I won’t discuss here the takeaways from these presentations as it was already done in detail by Jessica Rathke in her blog.  I ecourage you to read this blog.

To translate or not to translate?
It turns out that such an existentialist question arises not only for our customers who, when entering new markets, sometimes think that it is enough to provide the information in English. In such a case, certainly, we apply all our sales ingenuity and, using the arguments taken from the independent researches that prove that most people are more inclined to buy something if they receive the information in their own native language, we try to argue that it is impossible to manage without our services :). Therefore, while preparing the conference, we ourselves raised this question. Of course, it was related to the interpretation and not to translation, but it is relevant anyway. Since all the speakers had to read their presentations in English, and as the language of international conferences in our industry is usually English, it seemed obvious that this time the language of our conference should be English as well. However, having in mind the experience of national conferences in other countries, where interpretation services are usually provided, so that even non-English speaking participants can understand the presentations, we also decided to organise the interpretation, although some members of the association were opposed to this decision, because they considered it a waste of money and energy. Well, it was not a waste of money, luckily. 😉 Once again, I want to thank our dear interpreters, Vilūnė Visackienė, Dalia Mankauskienė and Snieguolė Bakūnienė, who showed great solidarity with our educational activities and provided interpretation free of charge. We also want to thank Konferenta UAB for all the interpretation and sound equipment.

Therefore, to interpret the conference presentations was undoubtedly the right decision. Of course, not all the audience listened to the interpretation, but quite a good portion of it did. Although in Lithuania, like in the rest of the world, a very large proportion of translation companies are established by former translators, it does not mean that the working language of those founders is English, nor does it mean that they know this language well enough. Thus, fortunately, the world is not monolingual yet and we, as language services providers, and our services will still be needed, even at language industry conferences. 🙂

An international event?
This conference could hardly be called international. Indeed, it has remained a national event in our country. However, the conference welcomed guests, i.e. participants, from Estonia, Latvia, Ukraine, Russia and Slovenia. Their feedback on the event (as far as we received it before I started writing this blog) is indeed very positive. I am very pleased to observe that this conference has in a sense gone beyond the borders of Lithuania.

Organising conferences is really time and energy consuming. Sitting in a room as a participant, you hardly reflect on the idea that your experience and impression of the event depend on many small details forming a whole. Some of those details are indeed very small, ranging from whether the water should be served with or without lemon, coffee from a coffee machine or a thermos, cookies or muffins to soup or salad, and so on. However, it is necessary to consider and reconcile all of these small details. Well, not to mention more serious things, such as arranging the topics of presentations with the speakers, preparing the programme, conducting a campaign to inform potential participants about the conference, and so on. Indeed, there are many details and they are all important for the conference to be a success. I take part in a number of different events and I have my own very clear view on what a successful conference should look like. However, even if you know what you want, it is not so easy to repeat things and implement everything if you do not have a lot of event organisation skills. So, unfortunately, certain details are indeed left unconsidered and not fully harmonised. This is a lesson. Therefore, feedback from all the participants at the event is very important. Taking it into account you can find out something that you perhaps have not noticed yourself.

At the end of the event I expected to feel exultant and relieved that everything was over, but I felt emptiness and another question arose – why did I take so much time away from my company and my personal life? What is the point? Thus, positive feedback helps to fill this emptiness and to understand that all this work was not in vain. Negative comments, if any, help to mobilise efforts and show what needs to be changed. 🙂 In brief, feedback is more important to the organizer than participants usually think.
In any case, the 5th ALTC conference was organised and I am proud of the smooth conduct of it. Any comments that we receive once the participants have provided their feedback will be just another plus for us and a lesson for the future, because you are moving forward only as long as you are learning.

I hope that ALTC will continue to organise conferences and I wish a lot of energy and strength to the organizers (even if this wish is meant for me 🙂 ).


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