How to Make Your PowerPoint Translations Better

PowerPoint presentations are a popular and useful tool both for business and educational purposes. Quite often they need to be presented to a multinational audience and need to be translated into one or more languages. This is a task for the translator much as any other. There are a few tricks that can help you do it quicker and improve the quality of your translation. The tips will be of help, more or less, for any document translation as well.

What is Microsoft's Presentation Translator?

In an attempt to facilitate its customers, Microsoft offers yet another feature that can make writing and translating presentations easier. This is the Presentation Translator, which is a Microsoft Garage project. This is a PowerPoint add-in that adds subtitles to a presentation in real-time. It allows you to choose the language of the subtitles – it can be that spoken by the presenter or any of the 60+ languages that are supported by Microsoft Translator. The main advantage is that the audience can use its own device to read the subtitles of the presentation in their preferred language.

There is a Custom Speech Service add-in that helps speech recognition and translation. The tool uses the content of the slides and the presenter’s notes to “learn” specific jargon, technical terms, and even abbreviations that appear in the presentation, aiming to display them correctly to the audience.

The Presentation Translator is a useful tool, especially if you do not have much time to prepare and translate your presentation into several languages. Otherwise, it is advisable to use professional translation services, since they will guarantee complete accuracy and localization of your presentation.

5 tips to improve your PowerPoint translations

As translators, we always strive to provide the best possible service to our clients regardless of the challenges we are faced with while translating different documents. PowerPoint presentations have their peculiarities too but once you get used to the format, you will get better and better. The tips below will help you improve your PowerPoint translations:

  1. Know your audience
    A PowerPoint presentation is usually prepared with a particular audience in mind. It is useful to know who the translated presentation is addressing. This will help you in choosing the most suitable words, phrases or examples when you translate a given notion. The goal is for the translation to be easily understandable by the people, no matter if there are 10 or 1,000.
  2. Divide the text into slides and/or elements
    In a PowerPoint presentation most often one slide presents one idea, therefore it is useful to divide the whole text into slides and work one by one. You can also divide it into different elements – such as text only, graphs, tables, pictures, etc. Make sure that all elements are incorporated in the presentation in such a way, that it allows you to translate them. If there is a video, pay special attention to it and give yourself sufficient time to do it properly. A PowerPoint presentation usually contains slides and notes. Double-check whether the notes should be translated as well. Advise your customers that if there is any supporting paperwork to the presentation, it is better to provide it along with the presentation. This will guarantee a consistent translation of all related materials.
  3. Learn the project limitations and follow them
    Each project has some specific limitations. With PowerPoint presentations, it may be the space, for example. A text translated from English into Spanish will occupy about 20% more space. Check with the customer if it is ok with them to change the font or only its size in order to make room for the target text. Make sure that you can use your own localized pictures or if there are any that should stay in the presentation in all its translated versions. The same goes for color. Keep in mind that some customers may have specific requirements about the number of words used in the translated text. In other words, ask what the specific limitations are regarding the visual look of the translation and stick to them.
  4. Use PowerPoint translation tools
    Translating a PowerPoint presentation is quite a lengthy process, as usual, you can translate only one text box at a time. Therefore, if you work often with such texts, it is a good idea to find some translation tools that may help you with this undertaking and reduce the working time. There are several such tools in the market and Pairaphrase is one of them. It helps a lot, especially with the translation of texts into charts and diagrams. As a bonus, the tool stores your text in a bilingual repository so that you can use it for further translations.
  5. Proofread the text
    The last step, though quite logical, is sometimes omitted if not specifically required. Proofreading is an important part of any translation, and PowerPoint presentations are no exception. Read the entire text and make sure that there are no typos, grammatical mistakes, or omissions. Run the presentation to make sure that it goes smoothly and that all elements fit and look ok. When you send it to the customer, indicate that you remain open for feedback and ready to do corrections (within reasonable frames of course).

The translation of PowerPoint presentations follows the basic requirements of all document translations. Use your knowledge and the tips above to ease your work and improve the quality of the PowerPoint translation you are going to submit to your customers.


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