Global Presentations Using TTS And Automated Translation

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The most exciting—and underused—technology is the global online world of text-to-speech. TTS may not yet be emotive, but at this adolescent stage, the technology can meet most industries’ needs by providing vital sales and customer support.

Among marketing and sales professionals, PowerPoint is popular for its ease of use. The program functions on all computers and all languages and is versatile enough to be saved in other formats, including Web presentations, movies, and pages, as well as JPEGs. 
Built into PowerPoint is the capability to be a stand-alone, with audio acting as the presenter. The audio can be TTS, especially in other languages. Slides rotate as audio clarifies the content, with the audio launch timing defined in the custom animation settings. The ensemble creates a revolving presentation for DVD, desktop, or the Web. Translations can be used to generate TTS in other languages, replacing the need for international voice talent recording. Then, the results of the text-to-speech can be improved with music in the background.

When translated, audio with PowerPoint is a fine solution for international presentations, demos, Web slides, and takeaways from global meetings or shows. Though recording a human voice talent may make the greatest impact on the target audience, TTS is powerful, and the cost of human recording—plus the management and administration required to organize the effort, install the audio, and handle the accounting issues—discourages 99 percent of companies from globalizing their presentations. TTS offers an affordable solution.

TTS with Web presentations

The concept of a TTS audio file associated with a slide also applies to Web pages by boosting multilingual online help and how-to instructions. The Web brings the freedom to modify and expand content more easily, adding languages and new TTS, in addition to refreshing stale content.

Web pages can be timed to move from one page to the next by inserting a meta tag in the <head> of a page. The following code dictates that, after 12 seconds, the page will swap for “nextpage.html”:

<meta http-equiv=“refresh” content “12;url=nextpage.html” />

Nonetheless, the timing of a Web page swap should be longer than the exact length of the associated TTS audio file, in order to compensate for the latency associated with buffering and playing online audio, as dictated by the user’s access to the Internet.
Web page presentations with audio also offer interactivity. Fields, check boxes, multiple choice, and other response mechanisms add spice and interest to a page while providing valuable feedback to its creator.

ROI, TTS, and automated translation

The combination of TTS and automated translation represents the future of international sales materials, global customer support, and worldwide corporate media. Like TTS, automated translation is in its adolescent stage, and its results cannot be used “as is.” But the results of automated translation can be processed, polished, and improved by in-house personnel or by vendors using online software.

Examples of the latter include http://www.SubtitleYourVideo.com and http://www.TranslateYourWebpage.com, which store auto-translation, provide an online interface for users to modify content, and predetermine preferred translations to improve automated translation results.

Automated translation and TTS enable audio and presentations to be translated into 10 or 20 languages at a lower cost with less administrative management. Importantly, corrections or modifications are faster, easier, and cheaper.

Is TTS less impactful than a voice talent? Yes. Is automated translation less impactful than a professional translator? Yes. But what is far less impactful than both is not translating at all, which is the current status of the industry.

Making a difference

As a technology, TTS could help thousands of companies increase their international support and help small companies go global. Together, TTS and automated translation reverse the impediment of language, reduce the cost of pursuing international sales for companies that never could have afforded globalization, and enable others to improve their customer support worldwide.

Sue Ellen Reager is CEO of @International Services, a translation and software solutions company that performs translation, voice recording, and global system testing for speech and touch-tone applications as well as media localization. She can be reached at sueellen@internationalservices.com.

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