Best localization conferences to attend in 2022

Best localization conferences to attend in 2022

The Latin roots of the word “conference” mean, literally, “Bring together.” A conference brings together people and ideas. In the cases of health and community work, conferences often have the goal of generating or working toward solutions to problems or broader social change.

In any industry, conferences are like educational and inspirational events to attend—not to mention lively and fun. They make it possible for practitioners and industry leaders from around the world to gather and help steer the industry for the coming year. It is particularly important that conferences in the translation and localization industry happen every year: due to its ability to take ideas, solutions, and products globally, the localization industry has the influence to drive change around the world.

Conferences may be held in places other than the workplaces and neighborhoods of their participants so that the people attending can focus on the topic at hand without distractions. Some conferences are even held in another area of the country or the world.

A conference may also be held online, or something similar. Teleconferences bring people together through live video feeds, allowing people to discuss issues, hear presentations, network, and otherwise do many of the things they might do at a conference, without leaving their homes or offices. Similar situations can be set up using the Internet, projectors, and webcams, and microphones.
However, COVID-19 has made everyone think twice about holding events, so many event hosts have made the switch to online-only experiences. While doing so has some drawbacks—for example, it’s hard to network remotely—there are also benefits, such as the possibility of reaching a much larger audience. Also, online conferences tend to be very affordable.
The structure and contents of conferences can vary greatly, but a typical framework would include one or more presentations of work and/or ideas about a given topic. These presentations may take the form of lectures, slide shows or films, workshops, panel discussions, and/or interactive experiences. In addition, many conferences include posters or graphic or multimedia exhibits that participants can view independently.

Types of Conferences

1. Informal local conferences

It is like that organized by the Peterson Women’s Health Collaborative in the example at the beginning of the section – may sometimes consist entirely of discussion, but usually include some presentation of ideas or practice, at least as a springboard. Frequently, the format of a grassroots conference is similar to that of a professional one but less formal. (Such conferences are often held outdoors, for instance, where weather permits.) A conference may last a few hours or several days.

It may be a one-time event or a regular (usually annual) fixture on participants’ schedules. It may be held at the YMCA down the street or in a hotel in Paris or Barcelona, or San Francisco. It may also be one of several types:

2. Academic conferences.

Most academic conferences are centered around a single subject, and sometimes on a single topic within that subject. The format usually involves graduate students and academics presenting their research, work, and theories, and defending, expanding, or changing them in response to questions, criticism, and other feedback from colleagues.

Generally annual, these conferences are often sponsored by the professional organization of the discipline involved, and may be held in a different city each year. A major focus of academic conferences, besides the exchange of ideas, is networking, which, in academia as elsewhere, is a key to collaboration, funding, employment, and other professional benefits.

3. Professional association conferences.

These are similar to academic conferences in some ways, but presentations tend to be focused more on practical issues, both having to do with the actual work participants do, and with regulations, funding, and other forces that affect the profession. Professional associations in the U.S. may exist at state, national, and, sometimes, international levels, and each of these levels may hold a yearly conference.

Both of these types of conferences may also be used to conduct organization or association business – election of officers, approval of bylaw changes, annual meetings, etc. – and to present awards and honors.

3. Training conferences.

A training conference may be run by a professional association, but is at least as likely to be conducted by an industry or industry organization, a state or federal agency, or a local coalition or initiative. As might be expected, its purpose is training, and so it might include workshops on methods and techniques, information on new regulations, or simply an exchange of experience and methods among people from a number of different organizations.

Another possibility for nonprofits is a conference run by a manufacturer or supplier to teach participants how to use products their organizations have purchased.

4. Issue- or problem-related conferences.

These might be convened by almost any association, organization, institution, or citizens’ group to focus on a particular concern. Such conferences range from “Education Summits” called by the President of the U.S. and attended by politicians, school superintendents from large cities, and eminent thinkers (but often no teachers or students), to local-coalition-sponsored events focusing on child abuse in the community.

The purpose here may be to inform and energize people about the issue, to create a critical mass of concern about it, or to develop strategies for approaching it. Depending on the issue’s importance and the enthusiasm of the participants, this kind of conference can turn into an annual event.


There are a number of reasons you might organize a conference, some practical, some idealistic, some political, and some with elements of all three.

  • There’s an issue that needs examining. The example of childhood asthma at the beginning of this section fits into this category. Organizing a conference may both respond to and help to emphasize the urgency of dealing with the issue.
  • The field needs a conference. There are several possible reasons for this:
    • The field may be a new one and still lack a clear identity. A conference could bring together the people who are building it and help to define it.
    • The field may not be cohesive. People in it may not know one another, may disagree on methods or other issues, or may simply not realize how many others have similar interests. A conference could bring them together and create networks that would expand and improve the work.
    • There may be new research findings, work, ideas, methods, or information (new regulations, etc.) that need to be shared.
    • People may need to be energized and to know they’re not alone. The field may be reeling from budget cuts or revelations of illegal or unethical practice on the parts of some. A conference may serve to refocus energy, provide a forum for solving some of the problems that have come to light, and simply give participants a chance to demonstrate mutual support.
  • Your organization or group wants to start an annual gathering. You think that an issue, a field, a community, or a particular group of people is important enough that it needs to have an annual conference focused on it.
  • There’s a crisis or opportunity that should be addressed. A conference may deal with a huge drop or a huge increase in funding for the field, for instance, or with the fact that a standard practice has been shown to be ineffective or dangerous.

Opportunities here might include an opportunity to advance knowledge or practical application in the field. A hot issue may bring funding to study or try certain things, for instance, or may attract new participants or funders.

  • You may want to establish the legitimacy of the field. Especially if your work has only existed for a few years – or less – you may want a conference to confirm that there are large numbers of people engaged in it; that most of them have respectable credentials; and that the field is not out on the crazy fringe, but has a solid intellectual and philosophical foundation.
  • Feedback from the field or the community may demand it. People may clearly express their desire for training, networking, or other benefits that a conference can provide.
  • A funder may demand it. Some of the funding for an organization or coalition may come earmarked for a conference, or organizing a conference may be a condition of funding for your work.
  • You may want to enlist people to advance the field, either through their work or through advocacy. A conference can provide instruction and motivation to that end.
  • It’s a matter of prestige, credibility, or credentials for you or your organization. For academics, for instance, the act of organizing a conference itself may bring prestige. The fact that you can gather people from your discipline – or, better yet, from a variety of disciplines – establishes you as an important person in your field.
  • The same may be true for a community organization, a hospital or clinic, a coalition, or any number of other organizations or institutions. Organizing a conference can establish you as a voice of reason or a leading authority in the field, which, in turn, can bring funding and requests for collaboration that can improve your work.
  • It’s part of your job. Some staff and board positions in professional associations, government agencies, coalitions, foundations, or educational institutions come with the organizing and running of an annual conference as part of their job description.

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